About Writing plus Poetry: Harry Calhoun in Dialogue

“This is just outstanding. The total interview is incredible… I’m… Genuinely appreciative of some critically good advice from a fellow writer.” Mark Howell, Senior Author, Solares Hill

Harry Calhoun’s photo could seem beside the dictionary definition for “journeyman.” Dwelling proof that not all writers have to be renowned or stick to one particular variety of writing to be effective, Calhoun has located regular editorial favor as a poet because 1980 and was a commonly released freelance report and literary essay author in the 80s and 90s. In addition, he has edited a poetry journal and a trade magazine for the housing industry and placed poetry and fiction pieces in magazines this sort of as Thunder Sandwich and The Islander. He has been an award-profitable advertising and marketing author for multinational businesses such as GE and IBM for the earlier 20 many years.

Trina Allen is a freelance author and editor who has read through and liked considerably of Calhoun’s perform.

Trina Allen: Your poetry has gotten you the most recognition in publications. To what do you attribute your achievement?

Harry Calhoun: Totally no question, three phrases — 3 words and phrases, limited interest span! Which is why I like my job now. Marketing writing is a good deal like poetry. It really is frequently very quick. It is making an attempt to convey one thing in the fewest quantities of terms and say it with the kind of spin that sticks with the person who’s looking through it. It surely isn’t poetry, but it really is the same mentality, just attempting to say things really speedily and crisply. Folks think that poetry is flowery language or one thing that goes on and on, but typically it truly is really the reverse, it’s succinct and rapid… striving to nail it in as handful of phrases as feasible.

Allen: Is there any a single poem that you contemplate your most effective piece?

Calhoun: Yeah, you will find a poem — ironically, a really limited one — referred to as “Leaving.” I always appear at that as a accomplishment because I come to feel like it captured the emotion and the minute concisely and with compact verbiage.

Allen: I recognize that a reviewer once stunned you with his just take on your poem, “The Day after Christmas.” Can you explain to me about that?

Calhoun: Oh yea. It was a genuinely amusing moment. I experienced the poem published in a little journal, Taurus, exactly where I was revealed fairly usually when I was beginning out. The poem was referred to as “The Day right after Xmas,” and I wrote it to evaluate the emotion of enable down you get after Christmas to the loss of a enjoy connection — we experienced anything excellent, like Christmas, and now you are gone and it’s all mundane once more. The reviewer stated that he liked the poem, which was great, but he said it was a scathing indictment of the commercialism of the Xmas period. He seemingly failed to get the notion that I was making an attempt to tie it into a really like partnership at all. And it amazed me, but it also showed me that poems and fiction are open up to interpretation. Just since I wrote it isn’t going to indicate that he can not interpret it the way he desires to. His interpretation is as valid as mine.

Allen: You have over five hundred publications in magazines like Writer’s Digest, Private Golf equipment, Gargoyle, Mississippi Arts & Letters, and The National Enquirer and you have gained awards for your advertising supplies including an Addy award for ideal immediate mail. What are your feelings about your achievement?

Calhoun: It really is sort of like hunting at your resume and declaring, “Gee, did I do all that things.” You understand that somewhere together the line you did it, but it virtually isn’t going to seem to be actual. I come to feel some regret for not possessing done more, notably in fiction and poetry, but I also come to feel that it truly is been a excellent, entire occupation and I am basically at peace with it.

Allen: Would you grow on your biggest achievement?

Calhoun: Yeah, really I have bounced around enough that I have had some successes in different places. I can’t actually stage at any 1 excellent good results. Issues that occur quickly to mind have been in my most fertile poetic period of time, which was again in the late 80s when I had a few chapbooks of my poetry released by tiny presses. That was truly satisfying for me. I was also getting a lot of my poems revealed in journals around that time and even following that — and I hosted a poetry reading through and tunes sequence with my buddy Mark Howell in Important West. That was a really great time in my existence… but so is proper now, getting a advertising and marketing author, which is naturally completely out of the publication realm. I’m even now obtaining a lot of contentment performing that because its good currently being at this phase in my profession the place I feel like I am fairly great at what I do.

Allen: What suggestions would you give novice writers concerning a occupation in producing?

Calhoun: The 1st prerequisite is to have talent. You have no manage over that. But past that, there are a number of things within your manage. This is my leading 5 listing for writers, in reverse purchase David Letterman style:

CALHOUN’S 5 Easy Guidelines FOR Writing Accomplishment

5. Study voraciously, specifically in the genres you’re most fascinated in. 1 point that amazed me as a poetry editor is that folks who didn’t go through poetry would send me poems. It really is like trying to wander just before your legs produce. Looking through gives variations to copy, styles that will support kind your own individual fashion.

4. Don’t forget that it is all composing. Whether you are writing a novel or an e-mail or a poem, it really is all producing and it all aids. Plus, if you happen to be like me and a great deal of writers I have recognized, the extremely act of composing feels good — no matter what variety of writing it is. Composing this reaction to your interview concern feels excellent, for case in point!

three. Operate, perform, work. Don’t let something get in the way of your composing. Make it your occupation, even if you’re currently working an additional work to assist oneself.

2. Have targets — but don’t be concerned to alter them. Not everyone’s job is like mine, and some men and women start off out seeking to write fiction and end up carrying out just that. But if you uncover other genres that you are very good at, do not be afraid to adjust your goals. The corollary to this is: Don’t have preconceived notions about exactly where your creating will take you. I started out out making an attempt to publish fiction, took a detour into poetry and then magazine enhancing and finished up as a advertising and marketing author. My purpose was often to be a effective author — but the form that achievement took altered numerous moments during my occupation.

one. And my quantity 1 rule for writers: Want it a lot more than you want anything at all else in the globe. Passion is almost everything. I would advocate Ray Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Producing for suggestions about creating for really like rather than cash. Alex Kime think that any good results I have experienced is simply because I wished to receive the title of author — wanted to do it for a dwelling — a lot more than anything. I wished it a lot more passionately than any person else I realized.

You’ll observe that I still left off two of the usual suggestions for writers: Retaining a journal and environment a everyday time or page limit for your composing. That’s simply because neither 1 was notably successful for me. I believe that if I had stuck with fiction I would locate a journal much more useful, but as a nonfiction writer and poet it just acquired in the way of my “genuine” writing … it was far more productive to get my work carried out than to bother with a journal.

As for location a aim to compose for an hour a day or one webpage a day, I locate that possessing an assignment is a lot more of a motivator than an artificially established restrict. Will not have any freelance assignments? Make them up! In my poetry heyday, I would often established myself the process of finishing x number of poems so that I would be able to submit them to a provided magazine. No every day time limit, just the “assignment” to have the submission prepared in a week or two months.

Allen: Would you like to share any further feelings on the subject matter of producing?

Calhoun: Producing is writing… (It truly is) a tactical point… that requires enthusiasm. Some blessed individuals start off out creating fiction and can do it– for them the linear route is very best. Individually my job has been organic, which is a great way of saying I have been all in excess of the spot. I surely failed to commence out thinking I’d be creating advertising copy and no person could have told me I’d get pleasure from it as much as I do. I obtained my initial advertising position due to the fact I might created a lot of freelance articles and parlayed that into marketing and advertising. I needed to discover operate in a more metropolitan spot and the proprietor of a small advertisement agency in Pittsburgh was extremely impressed with some of my freelance composing and employed me as a marketing and advertising author. I have been undertaking it ever feeling.

I have experienced to adjust gears a lot. I’ve had to say, what are my targets now? Do I want to make some funds? How can I make some funds? Do I want to get released? How can I do that? As significantly of an emotional thing as producing is, it is also a tactical issue. I discovered chances to parlay a single kind of producing into yet another or into the next phase in my profession.

I can’t subscribe to the thought that you happen to be a sellout if you don’t compose fiction or poetry… Producing is just composing. If you are achieved at it and you might be excellent adequate to get compensated for it then there is a specified sum of satisfaction to that, even if it really is a 9-to-5 task like my advertising creating. It truly is significantly less bohemian than I however I might at any time be, having lived for a lengthy time in a classic 3rd-flooring “writer’s garret” attic condominium. But no matter what I do, if I will not have passion about it then I will not think I would want to do it.

Allen: Some of your actions have integrated poetry readings, guide evaluations, articles in newspapers and publications, and poetry, fiction, marketing writing. Which gave you the most gratification? The minimum?

Calhoun: I can seem at myself as a journeyman or say I have experienced an extremely assorted lifestyle, nevertheless you want to search at it. I have gotten satisfaction out of the distinct phases of my composing. I am deemed one particular of the ideal writers for the key technological innovation company in which I function now. I get a good deal of thrills of viewing my operate on the Net for audiences about the planet. Which is exciting and I really appreciate that. I loved observing my poetry revealed and liked undertaking the poetry readings, which includes dabbling in performance poetry. That was a whole lot of fun.

There’ve been a lot of large factors. I even now keep in mind getting my initial report released and that of training course was a massive thrill. It was back again in the times when you nonetheless wrote on a typewriter and cut and pasted your stuff until finally you ended up satisfied with it and then typed it up on excellent paper to get it printed. Fond reminiscences.

Allen: It appears like viewing your producing in print was a single of the most thrilling issues for you as a writer.

Calhoun: Undoubtedly, these first publications ended up just fantastic. The 1st thing I experienced revealed was a poem, adopted by book reviews and my first report. It was nice to see my title out there.

Allen: What gave you the least satisfaction, or was the most frustrating early in your producing occupation?

Calhoun: I’m glad I manufactured the decision to go away from fiction. I commenced out in the mid 70s composing it. I read tons of fiction, of system, but fiction was tough for me and carries on to be difficult for me to this day. I guess my biggest regret is that I never experienced a significant fiction work printed. I had a couple of brief tales printed, but it truly is not my powerful stage. Which is the issue I regret most and like the very least about my occupation. I have to give myself credit score for generating the choice to let go of this and do other items.

Allen: Was there a writer or poet that you admired and hoped to emulate in your early creating job?
Calhoun: Really, there have been numerous. When you questioned the question I quickly thought of a few or four writers: Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, and W. S. Merwin, an American poet who I genuinely admired. I undoubtedly was motivated in my poetry by equally. I also considered about Ernest Hemingway because I genuinely like the conciseness and crispness of his creating — I definitely attempted to emulate him for a although.

And then I lastly realized there was 1 writer that influenced my type much more than any other: Harlan Ellison, very best recognized as a science fiction and fantasy writer. Apart from creating entertaining stories, he would do these genuinely exciting introductions to his stories, and they had been often composed so conversationally– this truly drew you into them. A great deal of occasions these days, even as a advertising and marketing writer, men and women say that my style is breezy and conversational, and I feel I owe a whole lot of that style to Harlan Ellison since I was deliberately attempting to duplicate his fashion. I appreciated the way it sounded and what he was undertaking.

And Charles Bukowski, the German poet and fiction writer who adopted LA as his home, definitely affected me. I commenced out studying him in the 70s and quickly grew to become a admirer of his gritty, no-nonsense style, his humor and his accessibility. In the 80s, I obtained his contact data from a fellow fan and commenced a correspondence with him that lasted from 1983 until finally just prior to his death in 1994. I published his work in Pig in a Poke, a small poetry journal that I edited for most of the 80s and even place out a small pamphlet of his function. He was an inspiration due to the fact he was a effectively-recognized writer who nonetheless kept in touch with his modest-push roots.

Allen: You started a critically acclaimed journal in the 80s known as Pig in a Poke, which you revealed from 1982 to 1989. What gave you the idea for the journal and why did you quit creation?

Calhoun: It is interesting. I nevertheless see online references from time to time to Pig in a Poke and other journals from all around that time. Some of them, like Thunder Sandwich and Black Bear Evaluation, are nonetheless likely right now. What gave me the thought for it? At that time I experienced only been released as a poet for a few several years. I was operating as a book reviewer, and when I say functioning I imply I was getting paid out in copies of the textbooks I reviewed. I was not producing any income. I was doing work one more work and striving to discover my accomplishment as a writer.

There were a great deal of modest-push poetry journals at that time. I actually appreciated the way their editors did business. They have been typically really quick in replying. They gave guidance. They were far more conversational in their letters. It was a kind technique and I genuinely favored it because as each author knows people rejection slips can be impersonal and quite challenging to manage. I thought I would be great at editing a magazine and I also considered it would expose me to a lot a lot more poetry, which it did, most of it actually poor poetry. Undoubtedly I acquired to know a lot of poets in the scene.

I released Pig in a Poke out of my personal pocket for a quantity of many years, which is why generally I stopped production because it got to be also significantly of a drain on my finances. But also its time experienced passed with me. I started out to work in marketing and get true-entire world work. I did not have as a lot time for it as I had experienced prior to. It makes me consider that perhaps I could revive it on the Internet since that is more of an quick medium that printing it myself on paper.

Over the training course of the years from 1982 to 88, I held a collection of Pig in a Poke poetry readings at Hemingway’s in Pittsburgh every year. They were successful and a lot of entertaining.

Allen: Do you imagine this sort of journals and chapbooks are a great way to get function printed these days?

Calhoun: If your objective is to make cash, they are a terrible thought. But my purpose was not at all to make cash. It was to get my poetry publicity, to get people to read my things and reply to it and tell me how to increase and to link to it in some psychological way. In that sense, the small magazines are good simply because it is a bit less complicated to get released in them than the mainstream journals. Some of them are of surprisingly higher quality, although. Normally what you get from them is editors that are fast to react and answer with a whole lot more empathy– they really will give you advice or inform you what they like or never like about your poetry. And that’s really useful, specially for a young author or someone who hasn’t completed it for that prolonged. Plus, simply because they are quick to respond and cheap to make there was the thrill of getting to see your perform relatively quickly. It is not really as instant as the Internet is nowadays, but you could get a poem approved and inside a couple of months you could see it in print. And you acquired to share your feelings with other people. It was entertaining.

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