Poet Spotlight: with Marc Frazier, Author of Willingly
After the publication of Each Thing Touches in 2015, I had a few years during which I was very prolific. I had so many poems to choose from for a new collection which I put together in 2018. Willingly was stitched together mostly from my collection of published poems since Each Thing Touches. It is a bit unusual, but most of the poems in Willingly were published in literary journals both online and in print. This third book differs in two ways from my previous books in that there are more experimental pieces and more gay-themed poems.
You ask a lot of questions in your poems, what do the questions add to the poem?
It’s interesting that you asked this because I am not consciously aware of how many questions I ask in poems until it is pointed out to me. I recently wrote a poem titled “Interrogation” which is a series of couplets where the first line is a question and the second has some sort of answer. I had a poetry workshop buddy who used to criticize my use of questions. He had a silly rule (like poets tend to have) that a poem could only allow for one question. I hope when I use a question it is organic to the poem and its meaning.
When did you start writing poetry, and what moved you to start and how has your relationship to it changed and served you as a writer throughout your career?
I started writing, including poetry, in high school and my first two published poems were in the creative writing magazine. I had a full-time public school teaching career so most of my poetry career was contained to weekends and summers. My relationship to writing poetry is always growing in new directions. I’m a big believer in mentors and have studied briefly with some big name poets like Mark Doty, Lisel Mueller, and Carolyn Forche. I have taken numerous online poetry writing courses and workshops which have helped me to generate new work. I am a believer in writing prompts which some poets are dead set against. They usually work for me. I have also attended a large number of writing conferences, often ones where I can get a manuscript reviewed by a well-known poet. I have a toolkit of many ways to jumpstart writing a poem rather than depending on the magic source of so much poetry: inspiration.
Now that your book is being received and written about, is there anything around the narrative of the book that you feel is not being said? What do you wish people knew that perhaps they don’t?
I wish more people realized the amount of time and effort that goes into putting together a full- length collection of poetry. The poems do have to hang together in a meaningful manner and the poet has to have so much excellent work, not just good or above average, to fill that number of pages. I also wish people could appreciate how much goes into crafting just one poem until it is in its exact right clothes (form) and says exactly what you want to convey (theme).
What is the role of poetry today? Why do you keep writing poetry?
I keep writing poetry because I can’t stop. I don’t think the role of poetry ever changes. I know that it is very popular today to say that social and political themes should hold sway, but I have always believed that there is a more universal use for poetry. I am not a big fan of all the ranting and raving and gnashing of teeth in today’s spoken word world or the blatant anti-Trumpian works which are so de rigueur these days.
Who is a poet that most people don’t know about who you think is incredible?
I think Katie Ford is quite remarkable. Colosseum is a favorite of mine.
What are you working on/reading now?
I am reading Ocean Vuong’s novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. His poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds caused quite a stir in the poetry community a couple of years ago. I am also always tweaking a memoir I have been working on for awhile now called Without. I am taking a poetry workshop during the month of July sponsored by Two Sylvias Press. I took it last July and recommend it to poets of all levels.
If you could offer up only one tip to your fellow poets, what would it be?
Less is more but you need to finish a complete thought. Short poems are usually lazy poems and long poems rarely work.
End of Interview
Marc Frazier has widely published poetry in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, Good Men Project, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Slant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, and Poet Lore. Marc is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a “best of the net.” His book The Way Here, as well as his second full-length collection Each Thing Touches, are available on Amazon. Willingly, his third poetry book, was published by Adelaide Books, New York in 2019.
Poets and Writers Directory: https://www.pw.org/directory/writers/marc_frazier
To purchase a copy of Willingly click here