Questions with...John Sweet
Hi! It's Karina filling in for Kristina for a little while. In case
you weren't aware, we do a little Q&A
with one of our current or former contributing poets to get inside
their heads a little and see what makes them exactly who they are.
This month, we have John Sweet, who has been widely published and
has several chapbooks of poems as well as a full length available.
He's also a four time contributor to TWC. So how will John answer
our questions? See for
1. What or who gives you inspiration and
Evil people, sexy naked people, ghosts, enigmas, blurred
and forgotten people.
Loud, screaming music.
Sexy naked people.
Did I say that already?
2. Have you always wanted to write, or did you have a
secret desire for something else, like spelunking?
Started writing when I was 12 or so, it seemed like a
good idea. I used to paint, too, but itís
cost-prohibitive these days. Iíve been a crashing
failure at my secret desires of either being born
wealthy, or marrying into money. Starting a band always
seemed like a good idea, but Iím not really musical, and
couldnít stand the idea of being around the same people
day in and day out.
3. Do awards and accolades make you swoon? Have there
been any that you're particularly swoon-y about that
Iím from the stick-up-the-ass-purist school of writing,
where Iím just not overly concerned with or impressed by
awards. Maybe I need to win some more and see if my
outlook improves. Iíve been nominated for a Pushcart a
dozen or so times, and Iíve won a few chapbook contests,
but nowadays I just mostly sit in my rocking chair and
mutter about the damn kids these days and that freakiní
racket they call music.
4. When you're not leaving your poetic footprint, what
else in the world makes you warm and fuzzy?
I like to spend as much time as possible with my kids.
They rock. Writing poetry is what I do to kill time when
theyíre not here.
5. Give me names. Who are the best new poets, in your
I donít even pay attention anymore. Thereís too many of
us out there screaming and whining and pissing in the
pool. Everything becomes a blur. Usually, not a day goes
by without someone sending an email or a smoke signal or
a strip-o-gram saying ď(Insert Name Here) is the best
new poet around! You absolutely have to read his/her
work or your life will cease to hold any meaning
And the pigeons always crap on my car, and the strippers
are always surly.
ButÖÖ. MK Chavez is totally awesome, and Leonard Cirino
is amazing. I canít recommend either of them enough.
6. Best of the Net or Pushcart? Which matters more and
Nope and Nope. Itís pretty easy to tell good writing
from bad writing, but from there why start getting all
nitpicky and handing out awards? Thereís so much writing
out there that no oneís ever going to read it all,
including those who deem themselves worthy to judge. Iíd
rather find good writing for myself than have someone
tell me what they think is THE BEST.
I hate the Grammys and the Emmys and the Peopleís Choice
7. Then and now. What poem made you start writing and
what poem do you absolutely love right this very moment?
I actually started writing seriously because of a Lit
class I was taking in high school. I hated everything I
read, couldnít relate to any of it, none of it had
anything to do with me or my life or the general
nonsense that was Ronald Reaganís America . I started
looking through bookstores for better stuff. Iíd scan
the blurbs on the back and read anything that was
described as ďrawĒ or ďhonestĒ or ďharshĒ, but it all
just ended up sounded the same Ė very polished and
self-conscious work, and all of it totally lacking in
I finally decided that I was going to have to start
writing the kind of things that came to MY mind when I
read those adjectives.
The first poet to totally knock me on my ass, though,
was Margaret Atwood.
Right now Iím re-reading a whole bunch of Creeley for
the umpteenth time. No poem in particular, but when heís
on, he is truly on.
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
The speed and immediacy of the Internet is awesome, but
I prefer print, if only because I like being able to
carry the poems around with me. Both mediums definitely
have their good qualities, but I donít think that words
on paper will ever disappear. Printed poetry is like
vinyl records - there will always be people out there
willing to stand up for the old ways and keep them
9. Where do you see yourself and your poems in five
Iíll probably still be writing, will still be mostly
unknown, and definitely an embarrassment to both of my
boys which, as a parent, is my sworn duty.
10. What are the ingredients for a tasty poem?
Honesty is the biggie I suppose. Itís better than truth,
since one personís truth is another personís bullshit.
Write from the heart and the gut. Save the brain for
things like grammar and spelling. Simplicity and brevity
are both good, too. Poems of biblical proportions arenít
necessarily good things.
And you canít go wrong with sexy naked people.
Current Issue: April 2009
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