1. You’ve published several books of poetry. Can you tell us a bit about each one?
My first three chapbooks From the Depths of My Weak and Tortured Soul, Victorian Poems: Volume I and Victorian Poems: Volume II are out of print. They were originally hand made chapbooks that I did on my home computer. I printed the covers and pages myself and stapled it all together. I have no plans at this time of re-publishing these chapbooks but I do have another book coming out later this year called Forever From Now: Selected Poems which will include some of the poems in my first three chapbooks along with a few previously unpublished poems. Forever From Now is being published by PublishAmerica.
Internal Civil War and Melancholy Dreams were also early chapbooks of mine that I made myself at home in 1996 and 1997. I published the second editions of these chapbooks in 2010 on www.lulu.com with new cover designs. The new cover for Melancholy Dreams is a photo taken by my girlfriend, Siripañña Sophie Lichtenstein. South of Heaven and Hard Rain & Thunderstorms: Selected Poems both came out in October 2010. South of Heaven is a title that I’ve had in mind for a book for a long time. It’s been around since at least 1996 when I published Internal Civil War, I thought about calling it South of Heaven but when I wrote the poem Internal Civil War, I really wanted that to be the title. So, I held South of Heaven back but it was such a great title that I knew I’d use it some day. I was going to use it as a chapbook title but I decided instead to use it for my first full length collection of poetry. The poems in South of Heaven and Hard Rain & Thunderstorms span many styles and forms, from poetry that rhymes to poetry that doesn’t, short poems and long poems. “As I Stood Upon the Mountaintop” is a pantoum in South of Heaven.
2. Tell us about your latest book and where we can purchase it.
South of Heaven and Hard Rain & Thunderstorms: Selected Poems both came out in October 2010. South of Heaven was released on October 31 and Hard Rain & Thunderstorms came out earlier in the month. South of Heaven can be purchased at http://stores.lulu.com/reyjamiei or for Amazon Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004G4COIW. Hard Rain & Thunderstorms: Selected Poems can be purchased through the publisher at http://www.publishamerica.net/product25012.html or on Amazon.com. All of my books can be purchased through my website too at http://www.jamiecollinspoetry.com.
3. What are you working on now?
I have two poems being published in an anthology called Making Waves: A Book of Little Known Poetry by Swyers Publishing. It should be out April 15, if there are no delays. I also have a new book of selected poems being published at PublishAmerica. This new book has gone through a couple of title changes before we settled on the title Forever From Now: Selected Poems. And I am working on another book that I will publish myself on Lulu. I hope to have this book out some time this year. I haven’t settled on a title for this one yet.
A typical writing day for me probably isn’t typical at all. I rarely have time to devote a day to writing, instead I have a small composition book that I carry around with me in my back pocket and I write whenever I can. I still write the old-fashioned way. Everything I write is written with pen and paper first and then I type it out on my computer.
5. You’re an accomplished poet but I wonder if you’ve considered writing a novel. If so, any particular genre?
I have considered writing a novel. Every once in awhile the idea of writing a novel comes to me again then it’s gone for awhile. I doubt I will ever write a novel but I’m open to the idea. If I were to write a novel, I think it would probably be science fiction because I like the idea of being able to create your own worlds and populating them with your own creations. Science fiction is pretty much an “anything goes” genre as long as you get the science right. I would also like to write a Western because I love westerns and that time in American History. A Sci-Fi Western sounds like it could be fun.
6. I note you name Leonard Cohen and Hank Williams as people who have influenced you. Good choices. In what way?
Leonard Cohen is a great poet and singer/songwriter and Hank Williams is a great singer/songwriter that I consider a great american poet. Leonard Cohen is such a great poet that when I read his work or listen to his music it makes me want to be a better writer. The same can be said about Hank Williams. I listen to them or read their work when I need inspiration.
7. What works best for you re; promoting?
I’m still fairly new to promoting and I’m not sure if I’ve gotten it right yet. It’s mostly trial and error. I use Facebook, I have a fan page there. It’s a good place to get yourself “out there.” I also use author networking sites like authornation.com and authorsden.com as well as poetry sites like originalpoetry.com. And being interviewed in blogs like Dames of Dialog is a step in the right direction.
Usually when I “hit a wall” while writing, I take a break, do something else for a while, let my mind rest. Usually, I’ll read other people’s poetry or listen to music. Then when I go back to writing, I feel inspired, sometimes I’m able to finish what I was working on before and sometimes I start from scratch and write something new.
9. Who is your favorite poet?
Leonard Cohen is my favorite poet. He’s probably the greatest living poet or at least I think so.
10. Tell us about your part of the country.
I’m from southwest Georgia. I’ve always lived in small towns. I grew up in Cuthbert, GA and I lived the past 8 years or so in Cairo, GA. It’s very hot there, mostly boring. But we do have some nice places to go if you don’t mind driving a while, like Westville in Lumpkin, it’s an 1850’s town living history museum. The movie 2001 Maniacs was filmed there. We also have Providence Canyon, also known as the Little Grand Canyon in Stewart County and Kolomoki Mounds in Blakely. Tallahassee, Florida is only 35 miles or so from Cairo, GA so it ain’t all bad. In February 2010, I moved to Seattle, WA. It’s a lot different from what I’m used to. There’s more to do, more to see. I like it here but I’m still adjusting to living in a big city. It rains a lot here but not like it does in the South. It rains almost everyday but some days it rains for only a few minutes and some times it rains for two days. Sometimes the rain is so soft and light that it seems like the raindrops are floating to the ground and sometimes it rains hard but I haven’t seen a thunderstorm since I’ve been here.
11. We love animals. Do you have any? If so, tell us about them.
We have a dog named Mesa. He’s old and senile but we love him anyway. His name is a Thai word, it means April, because he followed my girlfriend and her brother home from school one day in April and he’s been part of the family ever since. We have three cats, their names are Lucky, Mihang, Tinai. We also take care of two strays, there names are Granny Cat and Julie. Mihang and Tinai both have Thai names. (I’m not even sure I spelled their names right.) I don’t know the exact translation but Mihang’s name means he has a tail. Granny Cat doesn’t actually have a name or either it’s long forgotten, she’s old and blind so we call her Granny Cat. Julie moved into our back yard a while back. She’s been living there ever since. She’s wild and nervous around people but she recently started wandering into the house since it’s been cold out. All of our pets have personality and character. I like that in pets.
12. What’s your favorite saying?
My favorite saying is “I’m southern born, and southern bred, and when I die, I’ll be southern dead.” It’s from comedian Lewis Grizzard.
For more information about Jamie and his works: http://www.jamiecollinspoetry.com