Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Frank Watson Interview - In the Dark, Soft Earth

Photo Content from Frank Watson

Frank Watson was born in Venice, California and now lives in New York. He enjoys literature, art, calligraphy, landscaping, history, jazz, international travel, kickboxing, and powerlifting. Publications include In the Dark, Soft Earth; The Dollhouse Mirror; Seas to Mulberries; and One Hundred Leaves. He has also edited several volumes, including The Poetry Nook Anthology, The dVerse Anthology, Fragments, and the Poetry Nook Journal vols. 1-5. His work has appeared in various literary journals, anthologies, e-zines, and literary blogs, but most of all, he loves to share his work on social media and in books.

What inspired you to pen your first poetry book? 

For a long time I felt a kind of dormant energy inside my mind that was not being expressed. Ever since college, I had read poetry regularly and found it to be the most satisfying genre in exploring the aspects of experience, emotion, and thought that could not be expressed directly and literally. In other words, a tool for digging into the deepest subconscious desires, fears, and dreams. At some point, I decided to just start writing down a lot of these things, even if I couldn’t necessarily understand them at first. As I tried to release and let go of the natural instinct to edit my thoughts, I found that the spigot opened and I had a flood of ideas coming out, as in endless dream fragments. When enough of these had come out, I began to see patterns that explore deeper currents of thoughts that did make sense and struck deeper than if I just said the emotion explicitly. There was power in the symbols and metaphors that comprised the poetry. So I set about organizing the fragments into cohesive threads and that led to my first poetry.

Tell us your latest news. 

I have my third poetry collection coming out on July 7, called In the Dark, Soft Earth. It explores themes of love, nature, spirituality, and dreams, with interludes of tarot card inspirations and jazzy blues. Beside that, I’m regularly writing new poetry, working on updating a poetic translation I did called One Hundred Leaves, and working on translating Chinese quatrains.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way? 

Countless poets and other writers have influenced my work. I first fell in love with poetry from reading the work of e. e. cummings and T.S. Eliot. I also love reading great works of classical poetry, such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Henry Howard, Thomas Wyatt, Andrew Marvell, and ballads, such as Sir Patrick Spens. However, I’ve found that they’ve not been particularly influential in terms of my style and thematic interests. My style, without a doubt, has been most influenced by the works of the Japanese poets, especially Basho, and also the one hundred poets in the anthology Hyakunin Isshu, which I translated as One Hundred Leaves. Reading Basho in college was the first time I found a work that captures moments in time in much the same way as my own internal thought processes and spending so much time translating Japanese poets required a careful study that left a strong influence on my style. However, the themes that interest me are quite different in many cases than the Japanese poets. I do have a strong love for nature, as most of them do, however the way I experience relationships and life in modern society is quite different than the things they experienced. Science fiction shows like The Twilight Zone, paintings by Salvador DalĂ­, jazz, songs, and movies have as big of an influence on my themes as anything from poetry.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 

The most rewarding thing for me is when I hear from fans who tell me how the poetry moved them or helped them overcome some issue they have. It always surprises me because poetry is so personal and it comes directly out of the subconscious, with minimal editing on my part. But I guess a lot of what we experience is universal, so the way I’m reacting to an experience, feeling, or something in the past has relevance to others’ very personal interpretation. It is always personal and I often have heard that the way someone else interpreted a poem is totally different than how I originally imagined it, but their interpretation is just as correct. That is the beauty of expressing these deep undercurrents through little stories or metaphors; they gain meaning from your own personal experience.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your poetry book? 

I hope that if they find that it resonates, they will read it differently than they would a novel. With a novel, particularly one with a fast-paced story, you read as quickly as you can to find out what happens next. This kind of poetry is almost like a meditation or an exercise in mindfulness. You get the most out of the poems by reading each poem slowly, letting the images linger in the mind, and feeling the love and flow in each word, perhaps even reading it aloud or several times. That is the way to appreciate the meaning most deeply.

In your new book; IN THE DARK, SOFT EARTH: POETRY OF LOVE, NATURE, SPIRITUALITY, AND DREAMS, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it. 

In the Dark, Soft Earth is about finding the connection between your inner self—your experiences, the feelings and thoughts that linger beneath the surface, your spirituality and dreams—with the outer world of nature, modern city life, music, relationships, and the wild soup of rapidly changing events. It’s about finding that inner calm and strength, so that you can accept a world that often seems in chaos while maintaining your equilibrium and sense of self. It explores different aspects of this in ten thematic mini-books or chapters, such as Within the Weeping Woods, A Dance Between the Light, Beneath the Raven Moon, and Omens. There is also around 50 pages of beautiful classical artwork to complement the poems. In some cases, such as the tarot section, the artwork directly inspired the poem. In other cases, I added the artwork because I believed it enhanced understanding of the mood and meaning of the poems in that section. The book explores beauty in all aspects of the word, from love and romance, to appreciation, to the dark beauty of horror, nightmares, and omens.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 

Just everyday life. Few poets earn enough to focus on writing exclusively, so I also have to maintain a career, be there for my family, exercise, read, and write as much as I can. It can be exhausting and sometimes I need to take a break in order to restore the creative flow.

Which poetry was the most memorable to write and why? 

That’s very hard to say because so many lines pop into my head at various times, but the first poem in the title thread, “in the dark, soft earth” stood out in a way because it popped into my head as I was waking up one morning and I was in a hurry, so I didn’t have time to write it down, but it just kept repeating in my head all day until I wrote it down: “on green and broken sod / the trail goes cold / in the morning frost.” Even now, years later, I can remember it and write it down without looking up the exact wording. Why did this line stick with me so much? By itself, it’s just a strong image I had, but I realized when I was organizing this and other haiku-like poems into threads that it contributed to a very powerful thread of poems that meditate on death and enduring love that has me on the verge of tears each time I read it. So even though I didn’t see its overarching purpose at the time I wrote it, I now understand that it was a crucial element in a theme I was working on somewhere in the back of my mind.

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know? 

There is a Japanese word, tsuji-giri, which is when a samurai receives a new sword and decides to test it out on a random passerby in order to test its effectiveness. This is horrific, but it struck me when I was studying Japanese how bizarre it is that this situation must have been common enough for them to have a specific term to describe the whole sequence of action in one word.

What according to you is your most treasured possession? 

Not a possession, but my family is the most treasured part of my life.

Best date you've ever had? 

The best dates were not the ones where we did the most exciting things or went to the most exotic places, but where we formed a deep and enduring connection. It wasn’t so much the words we said either, I think it was just when the chemistry and personalities were right and everything felt natural and easy. Then just walking around the city or eating and drinking was more pleasurable than doing anything fancy.

What event in your life would make a good movie? 

I think a good screenwriter could make several movies out of events in my life, ranging from a comedy of errors to tragedy. My college-age relationship fumbles would probably make a good comedy, though perhaps it would be a bit of a cliché. The tragedies would probably make the better quality movie, though I prefer those come out indirectly through the undercurrents of my poetry rather than as a movie.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today? 

I underwent a dramatic shift in the way I thought about relationships in my late-twenties that changed the way I approached them and made my life a lot better. Perhaps it was maturity or growing self-confidence, but after leaving a bad relationship at that point I ended up having better quality and more fulfilling relationships after that.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of? 

In my personal life, all my fears are ordinary: heights, health, death, etc. for myself and my family. In terms of unique things, and I’m not so sure this is a unique fear, but I do fear that society is a lot more fragile than I used to think and there’s a danger of things spinning out of control faster than people expect. I love reading history and one thing you see is that all societies go through cycles and what seems permanent now ends up disappearing or being reorganized as something unrecognizeable.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer? 

As a writer, the best memories are always when your work makes a difference in someone’s life. It can be difficult keeping at it every day for little money and recognition, but when I hear that it has helped someone make sense of a situation they were in or understand better emotions they were feeling, it makes me feel like it is all worth it.

Where can readers find you? 

I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok (where I do readings) at @frankwatsonpoet. I can also be reached at my website, frankwatsonpoet.com, or by email at frankwatsonpoet@gmail.com


Lisbon, Malaga, Aix-en-Provence, Milan, Rome, Amalfi Coast, Sicily, Prague, Hokkaido, Arima Onsen

Dig into this delectable journey through the dark, sensual, and ravishing poetry of Frank Watson. Ruminate the searing to the sultry as you absorb this haunting lilt of burning carnality. The poems ignite rapid and surprising shifts in focus and perspective as they twist and turn your preconceptions, allowing the implications to linger in your thoughts.

Vignette verses explore the workings of love, nature, spirituality, and dreams with sprinklings of tarot symbolism and jazzy blues. Together these verses contemplate the subtle underpinnings of a soft earth.

Praise for FRANK WATSON'S Poetry

"This collection is truly captivating and beautifully written." —Lenore Jordan, NetGalley, In the Dark, Soft Earth

“Compact poems replete with stunning and visually arresting images.” —Kirkus Reviews, The Dollhouse Mirror

“Watson left me wanting more. More poems. More imagery. More blue nights and haunted dreams. More weeping wood and moonlit ecstasy.” —The Portsmouth Review, The Dollhouse Mirror

“This book was HAUNTING. There is no other word for it. Fantasy, romance, contemporary, mystery, and historical all rolled into one; each poem brought all of my emotions bubbling to the surface. It’s not something I will soon forget.” —Shawna Brooks, Goodreads, The Dollhouse Mirror

“A collection that is both sensuous and graceful; I found myself drifting into a tranquil garden of dancing words and imagery. The eloquence is revealed in the rhythm as each page prances past the reader. A highly recommended compilation of words become art.” —Patricia Zarounas Murphy, Seas to Mulberries

You can purchase In the Dark, Soft Earth at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you FRANK WATSON for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of In the Dark, Soft Earth by Frank Watson.