A Cold Drink of Meaning (Author Interview)

A Cold Drink of Meaning looks like interesting poetry and commentary book.  Can you tell us a little about it?  

I started writing poems about twenty-five years ago after reading some writing advice from the great Ray Bradbury. True to his advice I found that poetry helped me say things with a certain amplification. I used to try my poems out on certain web sites and found that a lot of people connected with them in the spirit in which I wrote them. I had over a hundred poems I’d written over the last couple of years, along with certain observations and meditations on things, just sitting there. As I read over them I realized that they had an implicit theme of trying to find meaning in what I wrote about. Wanting to find meaning in things isn’t specific to me. We all want our lives and the world to be meaningful to us, and we want it badly. We just don’t stop moving long enough to make a customized space for it. That’s my reason for writing this book. It’s just one person’s way of pointing to the reality that, without meaning, it’s pointless to keep wearing ourselves out living through unexamined and substituted narratives (the air is full of them) that eventually leave us exhausted and empty. It’s my way of saying that one can stop at any time, clear a space, and establish a simple gound of meaning from which to proceed with purpose. I don’t have to prove my thesis because the news is a daily chronicle of things falling apart from meaninglessness.

How did you come up with the poems and thoughts in the book?  
I never know when something will prompt me to write a poem or record thoughts. I might be listening to music, be reading an article or book, or hear a snatch of conversation. I might be taking a walk and thinking about something and suddenly see a deeper part of it. Each poem is just the end result of some unexpected interaction with everyday life or the result of focused thoughts about something. I feel like I find treasure every time it happens.

What will readers get out of your book?

I believe that human beings, no matter where they’re from, are much more alike than they are different. If I speak from that within myself that is genuine, then I believe I’m automatically speaking to the same thing in others. If I’m correct about that then readers should feel as if they’re just plugging into something akin to an underground current that runs beneath us all. In fact a tagline on the book’s landing page says that “these poems are you thinking aloud.” I hope they come away feeling like they were inwardly confirmed in some way even though they don’t know me. I want them to experience my words as a witness of meaning through a variety of expressions (in the book I compare them to jazz riffs) that help them feel a bit less disconnected from things. It remains to be seen how well I’ve pulled it off, but that’s what I’d like for them to get out of it.

What inspired you when writing A Cold Drink of Meaning?   

The material was already written. As I said, it was when I perceived the theme that I decided to assemble the parts under this heading. I ejected some things, modified others, and added new material. What I found interesting is that, while I was going through that process, I encountered several arcticles and a couple of television interviews with writers of very different backgrounds centering in on the loss of meaning as a source of much of our ills. Naturally, that inspired me to feel like what I was doing was aligned with what some known writers were also trying to say in their own way.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve always known that I wanted to write because I’ve been a reader since childhood. I’ve written mainly personal things over the years. Back in the eighties I had a local following based on letters to the editor and articles I wrote for the local newspaper. But it’s only been since I’ve gotten older and out from under certain responsibilities that I’ve given more serious focus to developing as a writer, and to facing the reality that writing something others want to read is not a simple task.

When writing A Cold Drink of Meaning did anything stand out as particularly challenging?  

Once I decided that I wanted the poem by that title to be the theme of the entire book, the challenge became how to unify everything in a genuine way without it coming across as forced under the theme. So I read and reread my words many times until I could feel what belonged and what didn’t. I put it all aside for a while and then came back to it with a fresh look. That’s when I could see that the theme of meaning, at least for what I was trying to do, wasn’t like a theme in an essay. It was more like a theme that worked like a bassline in a jazz band, allowing riffs and explorations of the theme to take the reader in different improvisational directions while still providing a solid link.

What do you like to do when not writing?

 I work in Information Technology as a technical support person. I like to read a lot. Fiction and non-fiction. The writing of others teaches me and stretches my own comprehension. I like watching a good movie with my wife. I also like to jog, take meditative walks, and go to the gym.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

They can look up the book on Amazon. That would be the best way. It’s the only public work I have. Well, there is an ealier book of poems there but I plan to rework it. I’d like to say they could Google me but they’d just come up with other people with the same name. I want to ask these people to stop using my name but somehow I don’t think they’d listen. If readers have any questions or comments they can email me at salutarywords@gmail.com. I plan to start on a new book. I have several ideas I’m playing with and as soon as I decide on a direction, I’ll get started.