Interview with John Amen

My guest today for Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour is John Amen, who offers some insights into his work.

You’ve released three books of poetry. How do you see your work as having evolved over the course of writing those books and into your current work?

I hope that I’ve become more adept at exploring a wider range of themes, drawing from a broader and deeper set of content or references. I hope that my craft is evolving, too, that I’m continuing to expand and become more versatile stylistically. In terms of living my own life, I do feel that my experience is more multifaceted than it was even 3 or 4 years ago; it’s my hope that this more varied experience in turn impacts or in some way informs my poems. In many ways, I’ve always been trying to give voice to the paradoxes of life. Ultimately, paradox and the integration of opposites are alchemical principles, but I think they’re very relevant to the artistic or aesthetic process, too.

What role does time play in your poetry, both as subject matter and as a part of your process of orienting yourself chronologically?

What I perhaps appreciate most about art is that it can present the ephemeral things of life (blooms, thunder, tragedy, success) while also pointing to a more constant and unchanging reality, something more fundamental. In that sense, art is both sensual (i.e., evocative) and metaphysical (i.e., pointing towards an endless continuum of which everything is part and from which everything emerges). The Greeks talked of “chronological” time and “kyrological” time; i.e., time as it is measured by a clock and time as it occurs experientially. In this latter sense, a lifetime can be a moment or a moment a lifetime. It’s said in some mystical sources that God experiences everything (past, present, and future, from the beginning to the end) as one singular and indivisible moment.

In addition to being a writer yourself, you also edit The Pedestal Magazine. How does the role of editor influence your writing life, and vice versa?

There’s something gratifying about having your thumb on the current literary pulse. I think that’s a perk of editing a journal. You also meet a great number of writers, either personally or through correspondence, and get to immerse yourself in various literary developments and evolutions. These are things I certainly enjoy. There is, however, also the matter of having to juggle matters related to the journal and matters related to your own life and writing. This is to say, editing a journal can be quite time-consuming. Sometimes I feel that my commitment to my own writing (or other interests) gets compromised from time to time. But I think it all works out. I do enjoy sustaining a venue for other writers and being immersed in contemporary literary concerns. All said and done, I don’t think that editing has taken away from my own writing that much. In fact, maybe it has fueled it in some ways. When I look at the big picture, things seem to be pretty balanced, for the most part.

Check out the other posts this month from Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour!

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