Thick With Conviction - A Poetry Journal
thick with conviction a poetry journal
 10 Questions with...Bill Roberts


Bill Roberts is trying to solve the mystery of how it is his Oklahoma grandparents produces 22 offspring while he and his wife of fifty years to date have yielded none, so they adopt untrainable dogs. Bill's poetry is widespread in small-press and online magazines. He lives much too close to the edge in Broomfield, Colorado where he can be contacted at


1. What or who gives you inspiration and perspiration?

I get so much out of reading other poets’ works. Never really found a poem I didn’t like, or at least something about it - a word, a mood, a vague suggestion, something that sets me off writing a poem of my own. My wife, a breast cancer survival of ten years now, inspires me, too. Such grit, such strength, such determination in the face of the beast that affects too many women (and men, too - a male friend died of it). Perspiration? I start sweating when I have the nightmare where I unretire again, go back to work.

2. Have you always wanted to write, or did you have a secret desire for something else, like spelunking?

I’m descended from the renowned biographer James Boswell, so all I heard growing up was how great he was. Turned me off like crazy, so I resisted writing seriously until my first retirement (of a dozen or so) in 1995, when I knew I’d have to do something to keep the mind racing and fresh. Thought I could write at least as well as those poets who appear consistently in The New Yorker Magazine, and have been trying to prove my point ever since. If I could turn my clock back, certainly I’d have shunned becoming a nuclear weapons consultant (rather a dreary field, however fascinating) and would rather have striven to be either a ballet dancer, opera singer or dog trainer. At these latter three endeavors I have absolutely zero talent. ‘Twould have been a challenge.

3. Do awards and accolades make you swoon? Have there been any that you're particularly swoon-y about that you've gotten?

No, I don’t pursue awards or enter contests since I was named the MVP of the 105-pound football team for Police Boys Club No. 10 (as quarterback and bruising middle linebacker) in Washington, D.C. in 1948. A goodly number of Washington Redskins came to fete my achievement, dwarfing me so badly I realized I’d never become a pro footballer like them. My greatest thrill, honestly, comes whenever one of my poems is chosen to be published, and I get that electric jolt fifty, sixty, seventy times a year. My humble poetic skills have trouble keeping up with my marketing talent. I love to meet new magazines, such as Thick With Conviction, and have turned my attention to online publication to a far larger extent than hard-print - faster turnaround, bigger audience, more lively sector.

4. When you're not leaving your poetic footprint, what else in the world makes you warm and fuzzy?

My first and only wife of fifty years keeps me honest and out of trouble, so she’s my best friend and companion. Then there are our two unruly mutts, Rosie and Marco, who resist discipline, much as I’d have preferred myself. Irene and I travel fairly often, enjoy driving in Europe, and love France, the French people (who really do adore us, especially for saving their butts in World War Two), and French food and wines. In the Denver area, we’ve found the near-perfect balance of cultural activities to pursue - plays, ballet, dance, opera, symphony - at least one or two a week. And dining out. We came to Denver and Boulder in 1963 from New York City and found it to be a gustatorial wasteland. Now, we can’t keep up with all of the great restaurants, ethnic and American. Irene, by the way, is the best cook in all the land. Lucky me.

5. Give me names. Who are the best new poets, in your opinion?

So many great women poets who inspire me, and some have become friends. Ellaraine Lockie and Pat Wellingham-Jones in California make me struggle for breath with every poetic creation. Cathy Porter is a newcomer to watch - very gutsy. The men. Robert Cooperman in Denver is a clever chap. I always find Charles Reis, Alan Church, Alan Catlin and Kendall Bell with something exciting to say in print. So many good ones, so little time.

6. Best of the Net or Pushcart? Which matters more and why?

Maybe because many of the poets I’ve befriended string along that trailer, “Pushcart Nominee” so often, I would say Pushcart overrides Best of the Net at present. But do I really care? Naw. Best of anything is sort of a phony-baloney title. When you read a poem you like, maybe knocks you off your seat, then that’s the best feeling you’ll get on that particular occasion. Enjoy the moment.

7. Then and now. What poem made you start writing and what poem do you absolutely love right this very moment?

Edgar Allan Poe made my pulse race from first reading of “The Raven.” Still today, his “Annabel Lee” and “The Bells” are unquestioned masterpieces. But would Poe be published widely today? Doubtful. Sad but true commentary. Two poems by two of my favorite women always come back to me as best-in-show - Ellaraine Lockie’s angry “Sizing Down in the Driveway,” from her chapbook, “Finishing Lines,” and Pat Wellingham-Jones’ anguished “First Christmas Again,” from her chapbook, “Voices On the Land.” Read them and you’ll be forever moved. Though I prefer to write humor and nostalgia, I‘m a helpless romantic and love to ride the emotions these ladies evoke with their works.

8. Are online poetry 'zines a crushing blow to traditional print 'zines, or are they the meat and potatoes of the poetry world now? Also, which do you prefer?

Well, I’d say that the electronic media is slowly strangling hard-print publications. There’s no better feeling than holding a book in my hands or reading the three newspapers I get daily, but The New York Times can consume half a day. I like to think “young,” even at my age - hey, if you keep going around on the merry-go-round to nowhere, you’ll miss the express jet to where it’s happening. Good to look back, but keep moving forward. Is online a threat? Yes, but that’s just a fact of life, ma’am.

9. Where do you see yourself and your poems in five years?

I’ve written and published enough poems to make twenty books and hundreds of chapbooks but I still prefer one poem at a time. So, in five years I don’t see much change, but I could just as easily become infatuated with painting, take up oils and an easel, and never look back. I surely look forward to another five years, come what may.

10. What are the ingredients for a tasty poem?

Any piece of writing - poem, short story, book or careless chicken scratch - has to say something, have a message, tell a story, even if it’s a wee vignette. A fellow poet just wrote to me about a poem of mine she’d read (“Lost Highway”) about my kid sister who likes to get lost while driving, saying she thought it was moving, as if the person were going nowhere in life. That’s good, honest feedback which I truly enjoy receiving. But give me a laugher of a poem, any time. I couldn’t live without humor. Why take life so seriously, I always ask myself. I usually answer, too, which causes passersby to think I’m odd. Let ‘em think whatever, as long as they’re thinking. Too many folks have abdicated their gray-matter resources to their pastor, boss and/or political leader. Tsk, tsk. Challenge authority. Remember that one?






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