Complementing my interviews, the Author Spotlights are now running every weekday and this week features five authors from publisher Apostrophe Books. Today’s spotlight, the one hundred and eighty-eighth is of poet John Lavan, the third of this week’s Apostrophe Books authors.
Based in Yorkshire, England, John is a poet-blogger and has an ebook of poems ‘Familial: Selected Poems’ published by Apostrophe Books. He has poems published in journals around the world and has won prizes for his poems in the UK.
John works primarily as a Management Consultant, using a toolbag of psychological tools in business: from NLP to spirituality and eastern mysticism, essentially creating a new level of self-awareness and bringing people together to make great, collective decisions.
Traveling by rail every day, and extensively around the UK, John writes many poems on trains! He is a father of three boys and his eldest son, Andrew, had Down’s Syndrome. Andrew is John’s greatest source of inspiration, as reflected in many poems. The spirit and wisdom of a Down’s boy often shine through his poetry. For example, a recent poem:
Two Down’s Boys
Here we are
in our aprons,
People are staring
and, in the restaurant, tittle tattle,
leather skirts and thunderbolt words,
politics, bible and bartered
avocado and prawns.
But we are munching oily chips,
fit and fat,
from our chambered hearts
– magnificent brotherhood.
That’s where we’re at.
And now from the author himself:
My new wife, Amelie, and I started reading poetry together around seven years ago – as lovers often do! I also started leaving my own short poems on Post-it notes when I left early in the morning and suddenly discovered a passion for writing poetry. This was quite a surprise!! I’ve been writing daily ever since.
My philosophy of poetry writing is captured brilliantly by Paul Valery who said: ‘A poem is never finished, only abandoned’.
And blogging is an ideal way to keep poems alive; to come back to them later for improvement on meter, rhyme, metaphor, imagery, conceit etc. In this way, a poem feels only ever abandoned for a while!
I do see poems as magical. Magic spells, if you like, which can move the reader’s perception with words – so that a person doesn’t quite see the world after reading a poem the same way they saw the world beforehand. Of course, this is also crucially true for the writer of the poem!
As Robert Frost said, ‘No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.’
So the process of writing is quite an effort! It takes some intent to access deep emotions somehow and splurge them onto the page. It’s more fun to then artfully craft the ‘splurge’ into a poem, but this is also very delicate work, because we need to preserve the feeling of the initial inspiration in re-drafting. My re-drafting is ever on-going.
As the great Raymond Carver said, “I’ve done as many as 20 or 30 drafts of a story. Never less than 10 or 12 drafts.”
But many modern poems try to move perception in a quick and superficial way – to smartly transform thinking by simply ‘reframing’ and being clever and funny. Frankly, that’s quite easy to do, and not far from stand up comedy. Psychologically, as perception shifts, we get a surge of pleasure as the reframe adjusts itself internally in the nervous system – like;
“I opened the door in my pajamas’; ‘what a funny place to put a door!’
Great poets like, say, Yeats or Eliot have this capacity to move both mind and heart together – and all great art can do that; touch a tender, soft spot that is more deeply human. That’s my mission!
My next project is also a heart-project. I would love to write a sequel to ‘The Prophet’ by Gibran. Of course, that’s ridiculous – or that’s what my mind is telling me. My heart, however, is in it.
Thank you, John. You can find more about John and his writing via…
- The aforementioned blogs: http://realpoems.org and http://beautifulwordpoems.blogspot.co.uk
- Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008Z125L8
- iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/familial-selected-poems/id553587715?mt=11&uo=4%22%20target=%22itunes_store%22
- and from 130+ other retailers, through http://apostrophebooks.com/books/poetry/familial
- Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/apostrophebooks/familial-selected-poems-by-john-lavan
- Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15838108-familial
- You can find videos of John and Andrew here: http://apostrophebooks.com/familial
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