I love the way connections with other writers lead to other connections -- with other writers. And so on. I've met many fascinating people through my friend Cliff Brooks, including Scott Thomas Outlar, one of the most dedicated and prolific young poets I've ever met. I wanted to find out more about him and his process so I sent him a few questions to answer, and his answers are below.
How old were you when you started writing poetry?
I started writing lyrics after I graduated from high school. Baby steps. Started writing with the intention to dedicate my time completely toward developing the craft when I was 22. Spent the next 12 years (not the entire time, maybe fifteen thousand hours or so) filling notebooks…playing with words…learning. Finally felt the calling toward publication last year. Thankfully, I developed a fairly adept sense of patience in the past. Now my attention is focused on figuring out this new stage of the process.
What inspires you?
The first breath of oxygen upon waking each morning. Music. Truth. Love. God. Peace. War. Chaos. Order. Other poets. Brilliance. Madness. Wine. Nicotine. Coffee. A blank sheet of white paper. The horrors of life. Suffering. Beauty. Family. Friends. Enemies. Nature. Watching a spider weave its web. Witnessing a fly escape the trap. Learning something new. Seeing something old in a new light. Random acts of kindness. Visions of the future. Spontaneous revelations. The thought that the next poem might be better than the last. The final breath of oxygen after laying down each night.
Do you try to follow traditional rhyme patterns or be more free verse?
Here’s my dirty little secret: I’m not a scholar, in any sense of the word, of traditional poetic forms. I wouldn’t know how to construct such things if I tried, though I’d imagine my style does align with some form or another at certain points simply based upon the synchronistic flow to which all poetic rhythms are attuned. Everything has been done, and there is nothing new under the sun. So every free verse line I throw at the canvass is landing on territory that’s already been taken. The trick, I think – and whether I’m able to pull it off or not remains to be seen – is to combine multiple established forms in such a way that creates originality simply through the combination itself. Unique style born out of amalgamated hodgepodge. Chaos Birth.
What's your day job and does it influence your writing?
Writing, thankfully, is my mission these days…morning, noon, and night. I’ve purposefully stripped my life down to a very simplistic form over the past few years so that I can survive needing only essential necessities to complete the job at hand. I do enjoy working other odd jobs at times in order to find fresh doses of inspiration. In the past I’ve worked in warehouses, grocery stores, and book stores. I helped operate a painting business some years back that required several hours a day of traveling, so time in the car spent with music and my own thoughts might as well be classified as writing because whatever ideas were being birthed eventually found their way onto paper once back at home. Delivering newspapers at another point in my life necessitated far more concentration on the road than previous jobs, but was still just a carnival of good music and cascading ideas concerning the current book that was being constructed at the time. It really doesn’t matter what the job is, my mind is always focused (to the highest degree possible while also allowing basic competence to be maintained in other aspects of the immediate task) on ideas that can be later poured into the true work of releasing the words from my mind so they can find a better home upon the page.
Do you only write poetry or do you also write prose?
I write what I call prose-fusion poetry, which means the content’s direction could go off on any number of tangents at any given moment. Fiction, essays, poetry, rants, ravings, ramblings, screeds, manifestoes…each style has its moment in the sun from time to time. This past year, however, has been almost exclusively concentrated on poetry, simply because I’ve immersed myself so deeply into the pursuit of publication and making connections that the thought of coming up for air or straying from the path just wouldn’t have made sense. But as I’m writing out the answers to these questions I can feel a certain urge beginning to boil up in the recesses of my subconscious that basically lets me know that soon enough another form of expression is going to have its top blown off.
Does your love life influence your poetry?
Well, I have to chuckle a bit at this question because, having been a self-imposed hermit for many years now, the thought of having a love life has not really been on the radar. I’ve sacrificed everything for my writing, and that includes romantic relationships. The thought of love is a distant shore. My raft will wind up beached one day, I’m sure. But there are hellashish waters still to be navigated before such a time arrives.
What goals do you have in your writing?
To have fun, to push peoples’ buttons, to rabble rouse, to shake up the status quo, to make loads of money, to spit venom at the entrenched institutions of corruption at work in this world, to call out the arms dealers, to point spotlights on the decadent banking cartels, to run down the two party political system, to wage war against the pharmaceutical companies that profit off of people remaining sick, to plant seeds about the power of natural health modalities, to espouse the philosophy of personal sovereignty, to awaken the sleeping giant of human consciousness, and, most importantly of all, to help play my role as one drop of water in the ocean of a new artistic Renaissance that is coming into form. In life, there are long term goals and there are short term goals. The immediate plan is to get a copy of my newly released chapbook “Songs of a Dissident” into the hands of as many people as possible. It was published by Transcendent Zero Press recently, and now I’m extremely excited about promoting it and doing what I can to sell a few copies here and there.
Who are your favorite poets to read?
I’m inspired most by those who are on the scene writing in this current day and age. Contemporary poetry is what excites me because it is fresh and carries within it the seed of revolution. I have respect for those who came before, created new styles, helped to push the art forward, and blazed trails, but what matters most to me is what happens next in the world. There are large changes manifesting upon this earth, and not all of them involve kittens, rainbows, cupcakes, and cotton candy. Things will get worse before they improve, but improve they will because of the consciousness put forth by the artists. That being said, I dig the words of poets such as Heath Brougher, Sarah Frances Moran, Charles Clifford Brooks III, James Diaz, Kushal Poddar, Chumki Sharma, Alan Britt, Allison Grayhurt, and Laura M. Kaminski, among dozens upon dozens of others. There is no shortage of great talent pouring forth brilliance. Today. Now. I’m about as anarchic an individual as they come, but that doesn’t mean I don’t dig community. Cheers to the writers. Cheers to the artists.