Interview with talented poet, Darren White
Your poetry style is often free-verse, what draws you to this form?
I am well versed in Arabic poetry, especially pre-Islamic and early Islamic poetry. That is not free verse at all, it’s strictly regulated in 16 different meters, just as our Western metered poetry is.
I do happen to like writing in meter, sonnets, limericks and more. But when I am writing about anything important for me, I do not do that in rhyme.
What I like about free verse is how diverse it is. Many people seem to think that Free Verse means write anything you like in whatever way you wish, but that is not true. It has rules and regulations as well. Writing an essay and divide it into short lines with a white line every 8 lines, does not make it Free Verse just for the sake of it.
I add alliteration, assonance, internal-, slant-, and sometimes end rhyme to my Free Verse poems. And they are built up in a certain way. Opening, volta, closure.
When composing poetry, does the ‘idea’ or the line come first. Or is it something else?
That is not an easy question to answer. It depends. I can wake up at night with a line in my head. And I will write that down immediately before I forget it. Sometimes even I will not go back to sleep until I’ve written that first draft completely, out of fear it will elude me in the morning.
Other times I am listening to music and it brings me into a certain mood where I in a trance-like state write a first draft. These almost always have potential to work out decently.
Also, I love writing ekphrastic poetry, about paintings, ballet. There are certain painters that awake the writer in me. Hopper is one, Goya and Nerdrum are others. I think they are fascinating painters and they inspire me enormously.
May we have a short excerpt from your work?
I will give you part of one long poem from the book ‘Intrinsic Brightness’ (in Iambic Pentameter Blank Verse)
I have my hands, some paper and a pen.
Today I start to expose what was done
their crimes be judged, these torturers of youth,
who lust and kill, who do not feel regret,
who brainwash children into willing herd
discard us like we are commodities…
Their days in court will end in prison time,
more than their days spent raping little boys.
My hands will talk, my language is extreme.
I’ll write their prison hot in hellish flames
to keep their claws and maws far, far away.
Our rusted cage then opens wide and free.
Your recently published collection of poems ‘Intrinsic Brightness‘ tackles topics such as disability and child abuse.
Emotionally, were they difficult poems to write?
Yes, this was emotionally draining and extremely difficult. I never intended to be so openly vulnerable, the poems in there are raw and direct, they don’t package emotions and situations in wool or tissue. So the book leaves me naked and exposed.
But it is written for a specific purpose and with a specific public in mind, (sexually) abused and trafficked boys, gay or not gay (I am all that and gay as well). To give them a sense of future, show them it can be done. I am here, I survived, and I am writing about it.
And yes, even when it leaves you disabled, like it did me, it doesn’t mean that’s the end of the world. If you keep an open mind you will be able to adapt to new circumstances.
That is what the book is about. That you can rise above your past, and build a new future.
Can you tell us how you got it published, and the process involved?
I didn’t intend for this book to be published to start with, it was with the sweet but persistent pressure of a friend (Sara) that I gave in.
The book is published by, and will be marketed by, my friend Arthur Vaso and the small publishing company we (Art, Sara and I) are starting, Vaso Publishing. It’s all very new, and my book is the first one we published this way. It’s a learning curve and sometimes I cursed the whole project and wished to move away from it. I am glad I didn’t of course. But I think for starting writers it is very challenging to find decent ways to get published.
I am a writer and nothing else. If it were up to me, after the publication I would think ‘that’s it, done!’
But the real work starts there, and that is where my friend comes in. He knows the hows and whys, and I must admit I am very lucky I can leave that business part to him.
As a WritingForums member, what are your favourite sections, and does membership have any benefits?
My favourite sections in WF are the poetry sections, all of them, and Metaphor 3 in particular. But, as I scout for stories, visual art, and poems for Flashes of Brilliance, I’ve come to appreciate more and more of the rest of the forum. I might even start thinking of trying Flash Fiction.
Yes, membership has benefits. I have learned a huge deal about writing, receiving and giving critique on WF. That is not always easy. I came from a feel-good site where all comments were ‘fantastic’ ‘you’re wonderful’ and so on. Very flattering to the ego, but it doesn’t help you improve your craft. And that is now I see my poetry, craft. Work in progress. It needs fierce interference when it fails to deliver. And yeah, despite the fact that is sometimes hard to swallow, it’s also needed.
And exactly that is what you get on WF, as long as you keep an open mind.
Do you have any favourite poets or poems?
Yes, I do. In WF I have a load of favourites poets, but I won’t name them out of fear I forget any of them, but at least ALL of my friends in Metaphor 3 are among them.
Then, yes I have favourite poets, but that will change and evolve regularly, here are a few of them:
Federico García Lorca, Mahmoud Darwish, e.e.cummings, James Tate, and many, many more. Especially Lorca influences how and what I write.
Do you have any support with your writing – family, friends, writing groups etc?
Outside of WritingForums.com and another poetry site I am a member of, no. My family loves me, so they love my poems, but I bet they are sometimes stifling a yawn when I show them my poems, they aren’t poetry people, and that’s quite ok. I found my poetry family on WritingForums.com.
I don’t go out often, I am a recluse, so I don’t get to meet real life writing groups or friends.
Have you travelled, if so, where are your favourite destinations?
I am a recluse as I said, and an Asperger, we don’t travel well. On top of that I have had to travel all of my youth, forced. Was not my choice and it was horror. I am happy here in this room. My outside world I reach through the Internet, my friends are there too and that is enough for me.
Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?
Ballet is my passion, I write about it often. Music is too. Reading is, working for WF is too. And my other hobbies are a few toddlers running around here, kids of my sister, where I live. Making my life interesting, to say the least
I have sent in poems in contests for different magazines. I also have a long-term project running about ballet, a sort of stage-play in rhyme and free verse, complete with ballet, voice over and the rest. Don’t tell me it’s too much work, because I know. But it’s good to have it and think about it.
And then I am working with a friend on a book he is writing, as his editor, second pair of eyes, but mostly as his Jiminy Cricket.
I am translating the book “Abyss Of The Moon”, written by RH Peat, into Dutch. Which is not easy, it’s a true challenge, but something I truly love to do. Translating is an art, very different from writing poetry yourself. It’s a true skill and very fulfilling if both writer and translator can find each other in the result.
Where can the readers find out more about you and your work?
Hopefully in other books I plan to write. About me, I am quite secretive, and I plan to keep it that way. People can find me on Facebook and on PoetrySoup, but I am not as active there as I am on WritingForums.
Is there anything else you wish to say to the readers?
Read, and read again. Find your own meaning in what is written, and never take any information for granted. Find your own truth and question everything.
Poetry by Darren White: