I think that writers (especially poets) write for themselves and not for others: An online interview with Brian Wrixon
Brian Wrixon is a poet, writer and not-for-profit publisher from Burlington, Ontario, Canada. He is a retired business executive who now devotes his time to creative endeavours. In addition to publishing his own works, he has been instrumental in assisting young and emerging authors from around the world get published.
His first international anthology, “The Poetry of War & Peace” by Brian Wrixon and a World of Friends, features 80 authors from 20 countries. The second book, “Words on the Winds of Change” by Brian Wrixon and Poets For Social Justice, saw 128 writers from 23 countries submit works addressing issues of social justice and human rights abuses. Both anthologies contain works in several languages. Two more anthologies are being published in the spring of 2012.
Brian has been married for over 40 years to Dr. Cheryl Wrixon, an educational consultant, has three grown children and three grandchildren. He graduated from Laurentian University in Canada with a degree in Classical Studies, and is a former faculty member and program coordinator at Mohawk College.
Dupur Mitra: When did you start writing?
Brian Wrixon: I started writing poetry about 5 years ago. I had suffered a rather severe accident and found myself dealing with some level of depression during my uncertain recovery. I found that writing was very therapeutic and I devoted some time each day to putting my thoughts and feelings on paper. Writing became a habit and the habit became a pleasure. Now my life would be incomplete without my writing.
Dupur Mitra: Why do you write poetry?
Brian Wrixon: In a sense each of us is a poet. We carry within us the soul of a poet. We see, smell, touch, hear and feel. We constantly interpret life through our senses and our emotions, and that is what makes us human and sets us apart from the beasts. Poets are people who marry those interpretations with their imaginations, and all of us do that, all the time. Strangely enough though, we only use the term “poet” to refer to those who are actually brave or foolish enough to commit those interpretations to paper. It’s like there’s some shame in being called a poet. But the poet’s souls is within us all, whether we take up the pen and write, or not.
Dupur Mitra: How long does it take you to write a poem?
Brian Wrixon: It takes me only moments to write a poem – that is, to put the words down on paper. I have likely thought about the ideas and the words for days, however.
Dupur Mitra: How do you write your poems?
Brian Wrixon: I have scraps of paper all over the place with different ideas and turns of phrase. Sometimes I wake at night with an idea that I scribble down on a pad of paper by my bedside. In time, those scraps of ideas and words get worked into poems. I also have had some fun using an online random sentence generator to create a crazy set of words that I then worked into poetry.
Dupur Mitra: Where do your ideas come from?
Brian Wrixon: All my poetry is born from the connections in my life – connections with people, places, things, events, feelings and emotions. I have a very rich life and that richness provides me with all the fodder that I need for my creativity. I have 66 years of connections to draw upon!
Dupur Mitra: What part does music play in poetry?
Brian Wrixon: Good question! In fact, I believe that poetry is music. You cannot separate the two, especially if you are writing lyric poetry.
Dupur Mitra: Do you get inspiration from your readers?
Brian Wrixon: I get encouragement from my readers, but not inspiration. When it is all said and done, I think that writers (especially poets) write for themselves and not for others. I like to say that writing poetry is like singing in the shower. You do it for yourself. If your song slips out the bathroom window and happens to entertain the gardener, the trash collector or the newspaper delivery boy, then just treat that as a bonus. If however, a crowd starts to gather in your backyard every morning while you shower, call me and we’ll look into a record deal with me as your agent!
Dupur Mitra: What was the first poem you wrote?
Brian Wrixon: Remembering
Rolling meadow down our street
Father, son run bare feet
Butterflies, baby birds, wings
Seeds, bugs, nature’s things
Chainsaw, hammer, bricks, stone
A single tree left all alone
Nature killed, meadow gone
Father and son have walked on
What’s your favourite poem that you’ve written?
Christmas at the Front
The sun rises to a strange stillness
Burning off the smoke and mist and gas
They listen for the rumble of the guns
But all is quiet on the front this morning
Faces stare across no man’s land in silence
And faces stare back at them, also silent
In the stillness, voices rise along the trench line
“Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright”
From across the mud, the craters and the wire
“Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht, alles schlaft, ein sam wacht”
A white flag is raised, mirrored by another
Everywhere soldiers emerge from their trenches
Weapons aside and hands extended in friendship
Those fighting for King and Country
Meet those of the Kaiser and the Fatherland
Exchanging rations for cigarettes and sharing pictures
Happy to follow a new leader for an hour
A King lying in a manger, loved by all
Dupur Mitra: Do you illustrate your own poems?
Brian Wrixon: No, I don’t illustrate my poetry. I prefer to have my words make a statement all by themselves. I tend to think that if a picture is needed, then the words aren’t right.
Dupur Mitra: What else do you like doing when you’re not writing poems?
Brian Wrixon: I love to publish. I started a Facebook writers’ group called Poets with Voices Strong and we currently have in excess of 1,000 members from all over the world. We have now published 12 anthologies that have incorporated a wide variety of themes ranging from war to love. In addition, I also publish the works of individual members of our writers’ group. Brian Wrixon Books is a Canadian publisher registered with Library and Archives Canada, our equivalent to the US Library of Congress.
Dupur Mitra: What makes your poems different from other people’s?
Brian Wrixon: My poetry is a reflection of me, and that is the only thing that can possibly make anyone’s poetry different from anyone else’s. I write about my connections and my reflections on life, and my interpretations of what I experience. That has to make my poetry different.
Dupur Mitra: What is poetry?
Brian Wrixon: I would define poetry as, “thoughts, feelings and emotions put into words”. Oscar Wilde noted that even bad poetry is rooted in genuine feeling.
Dupur Mitra: What are your observations about trending of world poetry?
Brian Wrixon: (“Trending” is one of those words that I don’t use because I am not a “Tweeter” – tweeting is strictly for birds, as far as I am concerned. At times I am accused of being “road-kill on the information highway”, but I love this definition of trending: “Trending” is a mutilation of the English language that means “currently popular.” It derives from a sad misunderstanding of the verb “to trend” as meaning “to become a trend.”)
When I started Poets with Voices Strong, I soon came to realize the immense popularity of poetry in the world, especially in countries like India. I thought I was very much alone in the world of poetry, but that is not the case. I believe that its popularity is very much on the rise and I would suggest that social networking sites such as Facebook have been chiefly responsible for this increase. In addition, the ease with which one can now get published through print-on-demand companies such as Blurb Inc, Lulu and CreateSpace means that emerging writers can now have a voice in the literary world. Brian Wrixon Books is devoted solely to providing that kind of outlet for creativity.
Dupur Mitra: Does the poetry movement improve poetry? if yes how, if not why?
Brian Wrixon: The more people write, the more they will improve. The more they are willing to post their works and receive the feedback of their peers, the more they will improve. What I see around the world is an increased level of pride among writers. I also see a very strong willingness among those who have perfected the writing craft to act as coaches and mentors to those who are just starting out. The level of mutual cooperation and sharing that goes on in the poetry movement of the world today will definitely improve the overall health of poetry in general.
Dupur Mitra: What is your opinion about today’s world poetry movement?
Brian Wrixon: There is an old Chinese proverb that says that society improves when old men plant trees under whose shadow they will never sit. I suggest that society’s long-term survival is guaranteed as long as people are prepared to write poetry and to share it freely.