Longing for the Snow - POETRY (Author Interview)



Longing for the Snow looks like a great poetry book. What can you tell us about it?

Well, it originally were small notes in a diary. I was working on a First World War manuscript (English Soldier who survived the four years in Flanders Fields) in the Hay Library in Brown University, suffering from nausea due to Meniere’s disease and thus rather sensible to the season and of course in love with the surroundings…The poetry book is a therapeutic journey on the East Coast in the Fall. Longing for the snow is longing for peace and calm and for the virgin snow where you live in yourself and where I can escape noises which hammer in my head due to Meniere’s disease.


How long did it take you to write Longing for the Snow?

It actually took me a full year. It was to be published last year in autumn 

(the Fall) but I didn’t get ready. I was very nervous about certain things (rhymes, rhythms, cadence) and very uneasy about becoming a poet… wondering is this what I really wanted. I see myself more a short story writer…And in their original state, the scribbling in my notebook were highly personal. Poetry seems to be highly personal but that is just not true. Before a little note get the form of poetry, it needs to be worked on. It is hard to objectify your innermost feelings….

I was also looking for illustrations… and this was not an easy process until James Brian Moulder offered do draw. He is student in architecture at Clemson University and first to read my poetry.


What inspired you when writing Longing for the Snow?

What inspired me most is the season of the fall on the American East Coast and the Ivy League university tradition. Most probably a feeling of sweet sickness typical for the fall when things move slower than in spring and summer. It is also a time when you reflect about the transience of life… On the US East Coast this is quite contradictory as nature is so beautiful while decaying and moving slowly into winter. I hope my death will be like that too…

What will readers get out of your book?

I hope they get a feeling of the fall and of nostalgia. In the western tradition poetry is very often associated with fall. For the French symbolists for example, autumn is the Poet’s season. I also hope they will like the langue I use. I also hope they will be inspired to have a look at Brown University’s website to see the New England style of living – apple pie, pumpkin carving, Halloween, etc.

Besides this general feeling some things apart like John Harvard’s statue, Sage Chapel and even a Greyhound bus. So the reader in a sense is also informed about certain landmarks.


Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Longing for the Snow?

What was extremely challenging was bringing the poems to live. First from scribblings in a notebook written during the coffee breaks. But, then trying to make a configuration so much so that the poems have something of a cycle or at least a sequence. The most challenging of all was probably throwing out a few poems I truly adored but which would have harmed the totality.


What do you like to do when not writing?\

I like doing the opposite: reading!  And travelling and reading while I travel. I also like teaching very much. I am poet so to speak who likes his daily job!


Where can readers find out more about your work?

My website is under way as I will be publishing soon a new collection of short stories called Billy Rubin and other stories. In the meantime readers can go my website at XLibris Publishers:  https://www.erikvanachter.com/

Pumpkin Carving

The plump pumpkins amidst stumps and roots
nestled betwixt the chrysanthemums of the garden
seem to call out, crying for a carving.

Eager to remember the taste of Fall,
-the sickening sweetness -
I reach for one twice the size of a human head
thinking already of who to carve, or what.

It could be a president of the modern era, with a mocking grin
or perhaps a historical figure, vigorously reimagined
by the swipes of a sharpened knife.

It could be a serial killer, a wrestler with a cowlick,
a slasher from the flicks apropos for the season,
too fearful for the kiddies of the neighborhood.

Infinite options circle my head. I think, for a moment,
that perhaps it could be me. A self-portrait in pumpkin,
that most seasonal of mediums.

But alas I am not as easy to carve as I once was,
for each wrinkle beside my eyes must be accounted for,
painstakingly recreated from scratch.

Far better, in a sense, to carve someone young, beautiful
for the lack of effort it would take, the lack of lines to make
in order to evoke an accurate image.

But then, perhaps it’s the difficulty of the wrinkles
and the challenge of capturing the wear and tear of life itself
that makes the carving all the better.

I laugh because I know I’m overthinking something as simple,
as supple, and as silly as a plump, grinning, little pumpkin.
A pumpkin carving need not be perfect.
It exists because it exists, being only to be.