Poets can expand and become a novelist or a screenwriter: An online interview with Oneal Walters
Oneal Walters, Toronto born author/poet, wrote a poem on a bi weekly basis at Call and Post Newspaper. He has been the first author/poet to be published on the cover of FutuReale Magazine. He was a Contributing Staff Poet at FutuReale Magazine. He was a guest columnist at Torrid Literature. He is an author of two poetry books.
Published books: Frozen Stare, and, The Age Begins
Dupur Mitra: Do you think poetry plays role in your society? If yes how and if not why?
Oneal Walters: Poetry plays a minor role in today’s society. However poets can be vital contributors to today’s society. Poets can expand and become a novelist or a screenwriter. We can enter into profitable and more socially accepted art forms. Poets are not like musicians; musicians in my experience will become a fan of other musicians and support their work. Poets, in most cases, are singularly dedicated to writing their masterpieces and provide little time to follow and support other writers.
Dupur Mitra: Who are your major influences as a poet?
Oneal Walters: Irving Layton was actually the reason why I wrote love poems. I read one of his collections of poetry and then immediately read everything poetry related that he wrote. It was a great obsession. I was a fan of his poetry. I read a lot of Canadian poetry at first, and then I found a collection by Maya Angelou. Her perspective as a Black woman living in the United States was awesome and very unique to anything that I previously read from Canadian poets. I read and read more of her poetry and then inherited a heritage that deepened my experience as a reader and as a Black man.
Dupur Mitra: What does being a poet mean to you?
Oneal Walters: A poet is a person who uses poetic devises to tell a story and in my case, uses narrative. Poetry is an inward communication with self and once completed it becomes a communication with others for their enjoyment or to improve understanding.
Dupur Mitra: What is your writing process?
Oneal Walters: The idea for a poem can be inspired by anything; a conversation, news report, or just by observing people. If I am unable to write down the idea immediately, the idea for the poem will remain with me for days until I write it down. Once written the development of the story for the poem will develop in my mind. This is the discovery and development stage.
Dupur Mitra: What are your observations about world poetry?
Oneal Walters: Poetry as an art form is participated around the world. There are those who write as a hobby and those who write seriously. There are those who are self published and those who have been published by a traditional publisher. Poets are numerous and there are outlets like allpoetry.com and social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook to connect with other poets and to share their recent masterpieces. My observation is that there are more poets than actual readers. It is easier for fans of film to say I like Will Smith, or fans of TV to say I like Big Bang Theory than for fans of literature to say I like George Elliott Clarke. There is fan loyalty to other forms of art than there is for poetry. Fans can appreciate a poem, and in a lot of cases comment directly to the poet about several poems, however a few truly support one’s published material. On the other side, those who support Will Smith will loyalty watch every movie and then have an opinion of whether they liked the experience or not. Poets deserve this loyalty too, if you like my writings or any other writer, support their published material and then form an opinion.
Dupur Mitra: Can poetry as a movement be improved? if yes how, if not why?
Oneal Walters: Poets are vital because they are writers. Expression and reflection is necessary because we are artist. We are experts at communicating a story that has a meaning for others. TV programs display interactions; a person in their environment, a person with another person, or a person with one’s self. Poetry on the other hand shows the environment on its own. It describes birds, bees and the trees. This type of poetry is like a painting without action, a film without a climax, a song without a hook, it’s a failed communication in today’s society. We have to create poetry that involves communication and then either get it published by a traditional publisher that has marketing capability or self publish and then build an audience through social media. Poets need to develop a business orientation if they are writing with a serious intent to be published and to grow their audience. Also, just the basics, poets need to know who their audience is.