Thick With Conviction - A Poetry Journal
thick with conviction a poetry journal
 10 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 yourself?


1. What or who gives you inspiration and perspiration?

Evil people, sexy naked people, ghosts, enigmas, blurred and forgotten people.

Loud, screaming music.

The innocent.

The guilty.

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 you've gotten?

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 opinion?

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 whatsoever!Ē

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 why?

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 Awards, too.

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 energy.

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 prefer?

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 alive.

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

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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