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An Interview With Poet Jeffery L. Bahr

Poet Jeffery L. Bahr

This week at the Poetry Blog of 32 Poems Magazine my interview with poet Jeffery L. Bahr was posted. He’s a contributor to the magazine and was a delight to interview.

First, let me tantalize you with a bit from the interview, and then you can go on over and check the rest out for yourself.

Without further ado, here’s the interview.

How would you introduce yourself to a crowded room eager to hang on your every word? Are you just a poet, what else should people know about you?

I have been in love with computing for almost 45 years, back to a time when I could go to a large social gathering of 1000 people and be the only one involved with computers. I’ve studied every facet of computer science, been a professor and been in the industry all my adult life. I’ve only written poetry the last 12 years. I think there is tension in my poetry between the analytical and the mysterious.

Poetry is often considered elitist or inaccessible by mainstream readers. Do poets have an obligation to dispel that myth and how do you think it could be accomplished?

Poetry can be quite excellent and still span a very wide range of aesthetics. Some of those aesthetics take time to understand or acquire a taste for, and some are more readily accessible. For example, I think Bob Hicok, G. C. Waldrep, and Mary Jo Bang are terrific poets, but a “lay person” is probably going to connect more quickly with one of Bob’s poems. I don’t think there’s anything you can do about this, and the same phenomenon takes place everywhere in the arts (music, visual art, sculpture, . . . ).

How do you stay fit and healthy as a writer?

Well, I quit smoking and joined the Y. As a working software engineer, I’m in front of a monitor a lot (like 60+ hours a week), so I’m not worried by the sedentary nature of writing, I need a way get out of my chair periodically anyway (like taking a 15 minute break on my treadmill).

What current projects are you working on and would you like to share some details with the readers?

I have finished a manuscript of poetry that I think represents the arc of my life in the last decade. I will tinker with it and submit it to lots of contests and cross my fingers.

He also included a poem for readers to check out:

Walking Reliquary

Primitive, and so, face
of stromatolite, glottal-stop
cilia, pre-Cambrian gut.

Derivative, and so, grackle’s
nest mate, jackal’s familiar.
Nose like a nocked arrow,
eyes like a lemur’s, only lonelier.

Fatuous, and so, bag of bones,
old bones, some close to broken,
others opposable. Scot organs
and pipes, blood of a Choctaw,
stretched skin of a Norse war drum.

Inattentive, and so, collapse
at the waterhole, hair growing
gray like the seat
of a prayer bench.

Ebullient, and so, grief
of a treed raccoon,
arms like a starfish. Grin
like the wolves
at a timberline.

Acquisitive, and so, Isles
of Langerhorn, rings
of wild cypress, rings
of dead Popes.

Transitory, and so, brain
of an ocelot, brain
of a cockatoo,
mind of a lilac.

Heretical, and so, postprandial
half-life, quarterstaffs
for thighs, three-fourths
of a pumpkin’s DNA.

Incorruptible, and so, knuckles
like gambling stones, shroud
of a leper, eggs like a fossil find.

Redeemable, and so, water-logged
flesh, airborne ash, sedimentary compression.

–The title is taken from a line in G. C. Waldrep’s “Confessions of the Mouse King”

About the Poet:

Jeffery Bahr is a software engineer who lives in Colorado. He holds a Masters degree in Computer Science and a PhD in Operations Research and Statistics. He has created and managed a number of online poetry forums, and served as a co-director for the literary journal, Many Mountains Moving. His poetry and reviews have been most recently published in Black Warrior, Chelsea, Colorado Review, Iowa Review, Pleiades and Verse. His manuscript, Anabasis, was a finalist for the Poetry Foundation’s First Book Award.

Please check out the rest of the interview on 32 Poems Blog.

***Please also stop by the next National Poetry Month Blog Tour stop at Diary of an Eccentric and Read Handed.

Comments

  1. Not sure I liked the poem, but I enjoyed the interview. Thanks for sharing.
    Anna´s last blog post ..Review- The Poets Laureate Anthology edited by Elizabeth Hun Schmidt

  2. How interesting that he has the mind for computer language and poetic language simultaneously. The two usually don’t go together – but I’m glad when they do!
    Julie @ Read Handed´s last blog post ..Rectors vs Vicars