So who are you, and where do you get off thinking you’re a poet?

I’m a regular guy in a lot of ways, and a writer friend’s then-wife once called me “pretty normal for a writer.” I’m a first-generation college student who grew up in Aurora, Illinois and went to public schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade.

I am willing to go public on calling myself a poet because I’ve put a lot of time into reading and writing and rewriting. Some of that was in a creative writing program, but a lot of it has been outside of any academic framework. It’s not for me to say how good I am or will ever be, but at this point I’ve probably put in the 10,000 hours of practice that Malcolm Gladwell mentions in Outliers as being essential for success.  Practice for a poet, though, isn’t like a pianist’s work on scales or a basketball player’s work on free throws. It involves a lot of letting the mind wander much of the time, even when far from a desk or a piece of paper.

What are you doing when you’re not a poet?

To paraphrase the biographical notes of wealthier people, I divide my time between work and home, and sometimes I’m trying to write in other genres. Then there are the separate jobs of submitting work and promoting the work that I do publish.  In the middle of that awkward phase between birth and death, I’m in the midst of a particularly awkward phase of needing to engage in marketing and scheduling but not having a publicist or agent to do these things for me. This could go on for quite a while. Say, would you like to be my publicist?

Um. Um. Hell no! I’m far too much of an introvert for that.

You can have a big cut of my writerly earnings.

Nice try, pal. So what do you do when you’re not writing at all?

I take my dog on long walks, which overlaps with letting my mind wander.  I read a lot, which sometimes leads to acquiring lots of geeky knowledge about topics like deep sea life or cheese. I share much of this with my wife.

Undoubtedly a good and patient woman.  This may be a good time to more questions about your writing. What are you working on now?

There are always individual poems at various stages of completion, and a couple of loosely organized sequences of poems. I am also chipping away at the first draft of a crime novel and starting to put together an e-book of crime stories for purchase at a low, low price from at least one online vendor later in the year.

And what would you like to work on in the future?

Interviewing people might be a good time. How’s it working out for you?

My firmer plans include revising about 80,000 words of essays and trying to write another play. And there are always more poems to write. I want to be an industry or, failing that, the Swiss Army knife of American letters.

TAGS: , ,

J.D. SMITH has published two collections of poetry, The Hypothetical Landscape (Quarterly Review of Literature Poetry Series, 1999) andSettling for Beauty (Cherry Grove Collections, 2005). Individual poems have appeared in The AwlLos Angeles ReviewNimrod andZócalo Public Square, as well as in several anthologies. He was awarded a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2007. His first children’s book, The Best Mariachi in the World, was published in bilingual, Spanish and English editions in 2008 by Raven Tree Press. Smith’s one-act play “Dig” was produced by CurvingRoad at London’s Old Red Lion Theatre in June 2010, and a film adaptation of “Dig” is currently in post-production at Meydenbauer Entertainment. His first collection of essays, Dowsing and Science, will be published by Texas Review Press in March of 2011. Smith is currently seeking publishers for two collections, one in free verse and a second in formal verse, and working on projects in several genres.

None of this allows him to quit his day job as an editor and writer in Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife Paula Van Lare and Roo the Rescue Dog and remains confident that he will finish his working life as a Washington outsider. He periodically provides updates of his writerly doings on his Weblog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *