I have something a little different for you guys today! I recently had a chance to interview Robert Zimmermann. A lot of you know him from his book reviews over at his blog, but what you might not have realized is that he is also a poet. Rob is currently working on a collection of his poems but took a little time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions. Enjoy!
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BL: For those who are unfamiliar with you and your work, how would you introduce yourself to my readers?
RZ: Hola, me llamo….oh, wait this would be much easier in English. My name’s Rob, or Robert, really whatever you want to call me works. I’m just not a Bob. It doesn’t work for me.
I’m a poet, though I’ve only recently started conversations with that line. I also run the blog A Life Among The Pages. I post book reviews, poetry, stories, etc. Mainly in my work I write about whatever comes to me. Whatever it is, it’s bound to be honest and often emotional.
I’m also a very sarcastic person. Taking life too seriously is bad for your health. And along with that, I can’t seem to sit still. I always need to be doing something. In the words of the Immortal Ferris Bueller:
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
I think those are great words to live by and I make sure my work reflects what I look around and see.
BL: What project(s) are you currently working on? Any release dates or milestones planned?
RZ: Right now I’m working on a collection of poetry. I’ve technically been working on it for over a year. Sadly though, until recently, I hadn’t added anything to it and barely looked at it.
What I plan to begin doing is lessening my workload on reviews and such. This way I can free up time to think and write more poems. I only have about 25 pages. I would like to at least double that to produce a good sized collection.
As for any goals…I haven’t really set a time frame out for this project. I should, but I think it’ll have to wait until I get back in the writing mode at least. At the very least I’d like to get a good portion written by the summer. That’s when my family visits and things get hectic. No matter what, I want this done by the end of the year (vague goal, but I like it, haha).
BL: A lot of people don’t feel like poetry is “for them”. How do you explain to people who might feel this way, why poetry matters to them?
RZ: I’m a strong believer in poetry not being for everyone. This goes for many forms of writing as well. Some people don’t like non-fiction, or fiction, or just various genres within writing as a whole. In the end, everyone has free will and can choose what is important to them.
At the same time, there are readers out in the world that haven’t even attempted to “like” poetry. For many people, myself included (in the beginning at least), poetry is a scary thing to read. In my experience, it felt as if I NEEDED to see something beyond the surface. You don’t though. Like all writing, with poetry, just read it and whatever you see is what you get. Some people will get a very deep meaning from it, while others will just see someone smelling a flower on a sunny day without the metaphor of how much society is caught up in their own thing and not enjoying life.
There are also a vast amount of poets in the world, especially in today’s world. I suggest that anyone interested in trying to enjoy poetry, even if their past experience wasn’t very likeable, go look at more current poets. Once I was opened up to contemporary poetry, I understood that there isn’t a black and white to enjoying it. There are many, many shades of grey within the art form.
What I’m really trying to say: Poetry isn’t “for” or “not for” people. It just needs to be given a chance. One more suggestion….don’t start out with the “dead white guys.” Even I don’t enjoy reading too much Longfellow or Keats, only in moderation.
BL: What’s one thing that no one knows about you or your work?
RZ: That’s a really tough question, but it’s a great question too. I really need to think about that one. I don’t normally pay attention to what others know and don’t know about me. I know there’s probably a lot, but that also depends on who the “others” are. People who’ve known me for awhile know more than those I met a few months ago.
First thing that comes to mind is my home life; how I grew up and all that. But I won’t get into that. That’s what my poetry is for. I think I’ll think of something less serious for this one. I have the normal amount of fingers and toes. I’m not too smart, but I’m not very dumb either. Most people who know me know that I have a dangerous amount of books (my room is filled with stacks and stacks of them).
OK, here’s something somewhat fun to tell: Some people might know this, but not many. Back in August of last year I was probably a few days away from just grabbing a bag of clothes and leaving my house. Hopping on my bike and just going. Somewhere. Anywhere. Part of this is because I just can’t stand being here. A lot more of it is that I want to just get out and see things. Where I live is beautiful but it’s not very inspiring after living here for over 20 years.
The only reason I didn’t pack up and go was my dog Deuc. He ran out of the woods one night and I couldn’t let him stay in the shelter. I needed to give him a home. So the next time I have the urge to just leave, at least I have a sidekick.
BL: Aside from your poetry, you do a lot of book reviews on your blog. Is this something you plan to continue doing?
RZ: I definitely plan on continuing with the reviews. I also will keep doing my other posts, like the “Authors I Love” series. While I might not have a strict “book blog” like some other bloggers out there, I know the importance of having reviews for authors. I think it would be unkind of me not to write up a review after I finish a book. I’m going to be reading them anyway, so why not?
There will definitely be less reviews going up, but that’s only because I’m (hopefully) not going to be spending as much time reading as I will be writing. If anything, I’ll at least write up a quick review to post on Amazon and Goodreads. That way there’s some feedback to help out a book.
BL: How do you feel about the “Indie Revolution” taking place in publishing today?
RZ: I love it! The bottom line is that all people who write are authors. It doesn’t really matter who publishes a book, it’s still a book and deserves the same respect as someone who gets traditionally published.
I know there are many who will hesitate to read a self-published book. I think those people are ignorant or more likely need to get off their high horse and join the real world. There are many great authors in the “Indie Revolution” that are just as great at writing as anyone else out there. Also, to be honest, I have read some books by famous traditionally published authors who don’t stand up to some of the genius I’ve seen from the lesser known Indies.
A year ago, I might have been on the side of the big publishers. I might have said “they are publishing themselves because they aren’t GOOD enough for a real publisher.” This is the most untrue thing I could have said. Most of the time a self-published author made a pro-con list to decide which path to pursue. Most of the time it pays to control everything about the books yourself. I see traditionally-published authors doing the same amount of marketing that self-published ones are. Where’s the advantage? They got a display in B&N for the week of their release but they probably didn’t have much choice in what their book cover looks like? I don’t see an advantage to it.
I’m not really on the side of either in this debate. I appreciate both types of authors equally. They all put hard work, time, and money into what they write. As time goes on, I thinkIndieswill become even more popular than they already have as a form or publishing. The result will be an even broader set of titles to read instead of what a select few money hungry people want the world to read.
BL: You are a poet and a book reviewer. What other hats do you wear?
RZ: Well right now I’m wearing a Yankees hat. Sometimes just a plan black one, it fits nice and snug and it’s really worn so it’s comfortable. Though I haven’t lately, I can often be found wearing a brown leather cowboy hat. And, for all you kids out there: I do wear the hat of a bike rider. I always wear my helmet when riding my bike. You never know when a crash will happen and it WILL increase your chance of survival.
Ok, fun time over. Haha. The non-physical hats I wear aren’t really much different than those you mentioned. In a way I think they are all one hat. They can really be lumped under the hat of “writer.” Whether I’m writing a poem or writing a review it’s still writing and both disciplines influence each other. I have dabbled in fiction a little. I feel my poetry is definitely within my prose and not just because I included a poem in a short story I wrote.
So really, I just wear a hat. That hat is the Hat of Me. Its color might change a little bit for a review or poem, or a random post. But its basic shape is the same. I just do little bit of everything and try not to narrow my horizons.
BL: Given unlimited resources, what dream would you pursue?
RZ: Can I go back in time first? I’d like to not ruin my pitching arm in Little League so I could go on to pitch for the Yankees. Ok, that’s not really my dream; it was a dream of mine.
I don’t really have dreams for myself. It sounds like a bleak life, but it’s just who I am. I don’t like to think of a future or different way to life. It’d be nice to take those unlimited resources and give me just enough money to live comfortably. That’s really all I’d wish for.
There aren’t jobs in my area, especially being without a car and living 10 miles from the nearest fast food joint. So I’d just like to be able to afford basic things, like not living at home. I’d get my own place then sit down and write. I don’t have a dream job exactly. The only thing I know that I want is that I want to be able to read and write often. I don’t think it’s that hard to accomplish once I motivate myself.
Maybe that’s what I’d do. I’d buy motivation. Then the rest can start falling into place.
BL: Lastly, what would you say is the most important thing for creative people (writers, poets, artists, etc.) to keep in mind?
RZ: The most important thing for creative people is (very unique I know) be yourself. It’s true. When you’re creating something, create it for yourself. Make it how you’d like it and don’t conform to someone’s wants (unless you’re commissioned by someone for a project, then you’re stuck).
Early on in my writing I was a little too worried about what other people would think about what I wrote. It influenced what went down on paper more than it should have and I don’t like those pieces. Once I let go and just let the words come out, the result is what you see today. It became what writing is to me: a therapy. I got to know more about who I was and was true to that.
Just be yourself and your brilliance will shine though. You’ll get more respect and more people to enjoy your words that way.
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I’d like to thank Robert for letting me interview him. I hope you guys will check out his blog if you haven’t already. There you’ll find some samples of his poetry, his book reviews and lots more! You can also catch him on Twitter and on Facebook!