How long have you been writing? Phew! My first poem was published fifty-one years ago. I was seventeen.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer? Once I would have said my weekly self-syndicated newspaper column, On the Job Front (my day job was in employment and training), which I did for about six years. However, when I went on medical retirement, I started blogging for the sake of my sanity. The idea of a me-blog held no appeal. After some experimentation, I eventually started The Poet by Day (jamiededes.com), an information hub (5k+ subscribers at this writing) for poets and writers. It services up poetry (mine and that of others), poetry news and events, reviews and interviews, writing prompts, and updates on opportunities for writers.
What are you currently working on and what inspired this work? My major project is ongoing: As I played with blogging and social networking, I was struck by the world without borders that the Internet offers. It’s a wonderful way to see that there really are no “others.” Hence, The BeZine, 3K+ subscribers at this writing. I’m founding and managing editor. The zine was made manifest in concert with extraordinary readers (supporters), contributors and a core team of writers, poets, essayists, photographers, artists and clerics. Our contributors thus far have represented nearly fifty countries and all major religions, atheism and agnosticism.
Our fourteen-member core team – The Bardo Group – is devoted to fostering proximity and understanding through our shared love of the arts and to making – however modest – a contribution toward personal healing and deference for the diverse ways people try to make moral, spiritual and intellectual sense out of a world gone mad.
We make a deal out of poetry month in April and each year on the fourth Saturday in September we host The BeZine Virtual 100,000 Poets [and friends] for Change as part of Global 100,000 Poets for Change, which was founded in 2011 by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, both of Big Bridge Press. The BeZine Contributing Editor, American-Israeli poet Michael Dickel, has been a passionate and pivotal player in this effort. Michael and I collaborate on planning, promo and delivery and he serves as our fabulous master of ceremonies.
Yes! I’m VERY proud of this project.
How do you react to rejections? No biggie. Part of the job. Moving on…
How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication? Part of the job. Thank you. Back to work. [Okay, a little happy dance.]
What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer? Take pleasure and comfort in your work and the fact of your talent, intelligence and intuition. Write every day. That’s what keeps you sane. The rest is window dressing.
What is your favorite book? Yikes! Honestly, that sometimes happens to be whatever I’m currently reading, which today is Oscar Hijuelos’ Mr. Ives Christmas.
Who is your favorite author? Again, probably whomever I’m enjoying today, though I must say that Betty Smith, Pearl Buck, Alexander Dumas and such were childhood favorites and I am grateful to them for inspiring a love of reading and a desire to write, both of which have certainly put Life in my life. Adult faves include Muriel Rukeyser, Elizabeth Bishop, Kenneth Rexroth and a multitude of others – mainly poets… Sorry! I really can’t name just one.
What makes you laugh? Kindness.
What makes you cry? Cruelty.
What is your preferred drink while you write? Hot tea. Water with lemon. Mineral water with lime. I’m sure Bukowski would have found me a bore on a number of levels. 🙂
What is your favorite food? French fries with lots of Heinz ketchup and salt and a diet coke.
Shakespeare or Bukowski? Lobster or hamburger? They both feed me.