Thursday, August 15, 2019

Interview with Poet Tyler Hall about Atop the Bookshelf

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Today we are interviewing Tyler Hall about his poetry anthology, titled “Atop the Bookshelf.”

Tell us a bit about yourself.
To explain myself would require not just a paragraph, nor entire chapter or book, but a library’s worth of volumes. But here are a few facts about me: As of this interview, I am a security officer with a strong sense of justice and truth. I love cats, Japanese Anime, cosplaying, acting (I have written, directed, and starred in a handful of short films), watching ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos on youtube, drawing, exploring new places and shops in my hometown of Jacksonville. Along with the annual trips to North Carolina and regular visits to Pop Culture Conventions, one could say I am a man of many tastes and interests. 

Describe your anthology of poetry, “Atop the Bookshelf,” in a few sentences.
“Atop the Bookshelf” is my attempt at the poetry genre. While I see myself as more of a novelist, even the best writers cannot limit themselves to one genre or one format. I believe a writer should be versatile in their craft. That is why I have chosen to write in every type of poetry imaginable and in every genre imaginable. Focusing on one type of poetry or genre of fiction is, in my opinion, self-limiting. 

Who do you think would most appreciate your anthology?
Depends on whom I inspire with my words and who desires to read my work. If anything, Atop the Bookshelf covers every genre, and do I mean every genre! If you like adventure, it’s got adventure. If you like fantasy, it’s got fantasy. If you like a little science fiction, I added that as well! For those who enjoy reading religious texts, I have poetry that covers religion as well! I've even added a few comical poems for those who enjoy a good laugh! In short, there is something for everybody in "Atop the Bookshelf"! 

What first got you interested in poetry?
I would have to say my interest in poetry would stem from the brief, yet vivid descriptions of the events and situations of the overall text.

Your anthology contains a variety of styles, from haiku to traditional rhyming. Do you have a favorite type of poetry?
I cannot simply choose a favorite style as every style has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, while Haiku is very vivid in so few words, it is also simplistic. Traditional rhyming is considered to be the “standard” of poetry, however it’s very limiting with the constant rhyming. 
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Tyler Hall.

Where do you get your inspiration for your poetry?
For me, inspiration would have to come from everything I like. Be it nature, history, art, or what strange things my mind can cook up! If you could see my fantasies and my thoughts, it would outlandish and farfetched! Oh trust me on that! 

I would like to be, for once in my life, the guy who lives in a big palace with a lot of people...a wacky, wizard inventor, a lot of cute girls in legwarmers and oversized t-shirts, a few elves, fairies, ninjas, professional wrestlers, space aliens, a couple of soldiers, cats, super heroes, a robot,, a Christian pastor and a French chef to go along with it...why all this? I do not know! Let's add a library, a film studio, a theater, and a giant kitchen complete with a stockpile of food to go with these people as well! Oh, and did I forget the people in this fantasy live on island which is also its own country among other things? No? Well, now you know! This is just to help you visualize my intense imagination! 

Usually my work does slide between silly; for those moments I chose to be funny, to those moments where I chose to be extremely serious. 

Who is your favorite poet?
I do not have a favorite poet as I am more of a novelist than a poet. However, if I had a number of poets whose works I need to read more, they would include Walt Whitman and Lord Byron. Perhaps there are more, but for the time being, I am going to stick with those two. I also want to read “The Odyssey” in its entirety. 

Does writing ever take you to unexpected places or reveal things you hadn’t thought about before?
Absolutely! There are so places a many writer or reader can visit in words. Perhaps the same can be said about the various peoples, cultures, and nations one can meet in the words of a writer. The sad truth, however, is while these places are amazing, readers and writers alike will never be able to visit these worlds for real. 

And that is not just limited to locales either! Experiences such as meeting someone out of the ordinary or a sentient being who isn’t human! Now that would be an encounter in itself! As I said before about having my life go from mundane to magical, meeting someone like that would be awesome. 

Earlier, I said something about wanting to live in a big house with a lot of unusual characters like ninjas, elves, and a wacky inventor. While something that may never happen to me in real life. In the realm of fiction, however, anything goes. Perhaps I could write a novel about something like that! 

Do you have a favorite poem in your collection?
That’s hard to choose because I love every single one of my poems. If I had to choose which poems were the best write, I would have to choose "Sinking of the Mary Lee" because of its tragic story, "Joker Junction" on account of the hilarious tale behind it, "Sylvester the Firebeard" largely in part of its title character and its events being so life like. (One can feel the heat of the flames and smell the scent of gunpowder!) 

I also enjoyed writing "Tapestries", and "Atop the Bookshelf" (the poem for which the anthology is named for), mainly as they took two seemingly mundane objects and turned them into something worth observing closer. "Sniper", because it depicts a soldier in a battle. "A Man Named Paul", "Judas", and "The Apostle Peter," would have to be listed because they were all in relation to the three men mentioned and their Biblical importance. 

As for "Elizabeth", is a poetic rendition of the Tad Cummins Case. It was one of those poems I knew I had to write because of how the news of that crime affected me. Just as there have been poems and songs written about historical events and people. Which is mainly why I wrote “Orville and Wilbur” as it was about the Wright Brothers’ flight in Kitty Hawk. Lastly, “Aurora Borealis” was written because seeing the polar lights is something on my bucket list.  "A Fan Named Ann" was something I wrote to reflect about a football game where I once provided security. 

Now, the fun poems to write were the haikus and the quatrains. Some were foreboding and others were light hearted and positive. Believe me, those were the best to write! You could see so much in so little words!

I am quite certain there are a number of poems I’ve left out. Time constraints do not allow me the opportunity to explain every poem in Atop the Bookshelf. Yet, I will say that most of my poetry was written because I felt strongly about a topic or something was on my mind.

Now if I had to name one of my poems that had a good premise, yet a poor delivery, would have to be “K’Yakcha”. I wrote it as a means of recapturing the epics of Old akin to “Beowulf” and “The Iliad”. Yet, “K’Yakcha” seems to have missed the mark. Those who read it may say it was reminiscent of those epics, but I just feel it’s not up to par.

Do not get me wrong though, I enjoyed writing “K’Yakcha” because creating a modern day epic was a challenge in itself. However, I feel by its stilted prose, “K’Yakcha” simply doesn’t measure up to the classics. What I will say to my readers is if you are put off by the awkward wording found in “K’Yakcha”, let me just say it helps to think like a translator. Intelligent readers will understand the meaning of my words. 

“Ode to David” was a decent one to write as well. However it is not as good as it should have been. “Oasis”, “Waiting Room”, “A Date with Death”, and various others would also fit in this latter category.  By that, I mean poems that were good ideas, but not the best written. 

Perhaps it is best if I let my readers decide which poems were my best and which poems were my worst.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?
I love writing at night. I do not know why, but there is something about its tranquility that appeals to me. The same can be said about writing on a rainy day. Another tactic which helps is listening to music and ambience to help with visualizing a scene or dialogue.  

What was the most challenging aspect of writing poetry?
The most challenging part of poetry is showing the most with the least amount of words. I've had to remove words which felt out of place. Another challenging aspect of poetry is the plot, theme, and subject matter. I've even had to remove poems from "Atop the Bookshelf" because I felt they were not good enough. 

What do you hope readers will gain from reading your anthology?
That would ultimately depend on what my readers desire from my words. Some of my readers are probably seeking entertainment. Others are most likely desiring a deeper meaning. 

How have readers responded to your anthology so far?
Sadly, there have not been many readers. One of the many tragedies of being a writer is not having any readers. More than fame and riches, a writer should be more concerned with gaining readers FIRST and FOREMOST.

In ten years, where would you like your writing career to be?
I would like to have at least some of what I desire to create to be published by this time. Believe me when I say that would be a major advancement in my career.  

As of this interview, I am working on creating my facebook fanpage so fans of my work can congregate and keep up with the latest about my work. 

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of ebooks?
I am divided on the issue of ebooks. For me it is a two-edged sword with its pros and cons. For the pro side of ebooks, they are environmentally sound in reducing the consumption of resources. However, when it comes to the cons, one of the most upsetting attributes of ebooks is how they are reducing the concept of brick and mortar book stores. 

For me, going to a physical location for books and tests is more appealing than computerized ebooks. I say this because of the personal interaction with fellow readers and aspiring authors. 

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
I cannot further disclose much about what I have in the works. The reason being is I have learned it is best not to announce your plans or goals. It is mainly because if I were to do that, I would be less motivated! For any future projects I have in store, one will have to wait and see!  

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your anthology?
I choose not to disclose that as I would rather let my readers discover for themselves. To say much more would ruin it for my readers.

More Information
Buy "Atop the Bookshelf" on Lulu.

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