Books

Poet Laureate: An Interview with Jason Holton

May 22, 2013


While I read primarily YA and adult romantic fiction, I do enjoy other non-kissing-focused pieces of literature, too. With April being National Poetry Month, I dove back into the world of poetry and rediscovered my love for Emily Dickinson, as well as Shakespeare. The most exciting discovery, however, was that of Jason Holton, the poet behind the recently published collection, Eventually, All of Them Are Lost. Today, I am pleased to share this interview I did with Jason and I hope you enjoy learning more about him and his writing!

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Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
 
A number of people inspired me to write. My biggest inspiration was my family. They didn’t ever specifically say I should write, but they never shot me down. They supported whatever it was I wanted to do. That’s extremely important early on, then going forward it’s nice knowing that people believe in you. The realization that I wanted to be a writer came when I read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. There is a scene in there that depicts the main character’s wife sitting in a room with walls as television screens as though her brain cannot live without the stimulation of the visual screens. The main character, Guy Montag, doesn’t ever say that he looks down on her, but as a reader I understood this overwhelming but underlying disgust. He hadn’t figured it out yet. When I figured out the complexity of that scene for me, it instantly made me want to replicate it. Thanks to my favorite authors I’m able to get inside the minds of complete strangers, live there for a while and then come back. I wanted to share that experience by adding to it. I wanted to create characters and images that people could live in and be a part of.
 
How would you define your poetic style?
 
At its base I guess it would be free verse. When I write a poem its sort of like a shotgun blast of ideas all come rushing out at the same time. That blast is actually accurate to describe how much time I take to write each poem. I don’t write them in long drawn out sessions. The best stuff I write comes all at once. It’s like all of these images swirl around in my head and when one of them hits the right spot it stops. I can focus on it and what it wants to say makes perfect sense to me. I have about 15-20 minutes to get it out, otherwise it goes flat, it deflates. The process of my poem writing is, by turns, extremely obnoxious and exhilarating.
 
Is there a particular poet you admire the most?
 
Going through courses at college I ran into T.S. Eliot. I imagine a ton of people would tell you that they love his work and that he is responsible for their metaphorical style. When I first read him, it was “The Hollow Men”. I fell in love with his imagery, I loved that I didn’t have a clue what anything meant and I enjoyed the puzzle of trying to understand. If reading his work changed anything about my own, it was that I didn’t feel nearly as self-concious writing about myself. The way he twisted images and meaning to disguise events in his own life was basically hiding in plain sight. Thankfully, I didn’t just start randomly inserting metaphor into poems that makes absolutely no sense.
 
Can you tell us a little bit about the writing and publishing process for Eventually, All of Them Are Lost?
 
The writing process seems silly now. Basically I took any passing thought process as a possible chance for me to start or write a poem. I had no ideas as to what kind of theme I was working towards, I just wrote. When I had 10 or 12 poems written I took a look at them and tried to figure out if anything made sense. For me these poems are pieces of memory, which is actually what the title of the book references. It occurred to me that what I was actually doing, wasn’t so much writing poetry as it was trying to keep track of my memories before I lost them. Some memories I don’t mind losing, like when I burned my face pouring boiling caramel over bread when I was 12. Some memories I desperately cling to. So when I saw all these moments of my life showing up in these poems, the theme was fairly easy to come up with. The writing became a little simple after that. I thought of old things that mad me happy, made me sad. I focused on the whys and the whats. I wrote about 35 total poems in 2 months. Only 18 of them are actually in the collection, 2 of them were written far before. I included them because I felt like they deserved to be there and they were some of my favorites.
 
Publishing was a fairly smooth road for me. I self-published. At first I thought that wouldn’t mean a whole lot to me but I have to admit I’m pretty proud of what I created. I had a couple people help me with layout and design and without them the book would not be nearly as visually engaging. We took images and laid them throughout the text in ways I had not even thought of trying. Looking at it now, I couldn’t imagine it differently. Self-publishing was pretty much instant gratification. I am currently working on turning the book into an ebook, by far the most complicated part of the process yet.  
 
 Out of the 20 poems in the book, which one was the hardest to write?
 
“What We Do With the Men” for a couple reasons. First of all this poem has a rhyming element for a portion of it. I have an incredibly hard time trying to make anything sound the way I want it to when it rhymes. I don’t know why but it sounds singsongy. Unfortunately, that was exactly how I had to approach it after the first draft. For the most part syllables aren’t a big deal to me but in that particular poem I spent hours trying to figure out if id squeezed too many in to a line in the second or third stanza. Every time I looked at it I changed it, taking out a word, putting it back in. I don’t even like thinking about writing that thing.
 
What do you hope to achieve as a writer?
 
Right now? Piece of mind. Writing is my hobby because it’s not the thing that supports me. I get a lot from the actual act of writing. Sitting down, creating characters or scenes, it offers me an escape. Some people watch television shows non-stop, some movies, I read and write. If it gives me more than that, so be it. 
 
What are you working on next?
 
I’m currently working on several short stories and an untitled novel. I’ve been putting it together mentally for the better part of a year now and am clawing my way through writing its first draft. Its sort of a small-town novel set in modern day North Carolina with a witch, the land of the dead and a power-hungry monster of a man. The most time consuming thing about it so far has been creating the community. Now that it’s mostly alive (land of the dead not included) and kicking, the story is coming along quickly.
 
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For more information on Jason Holton and his writing, please visit his official site, 
Through Artificial Eyes.
 
To purchase a copy of Eventually, All of Them Are Lost, please visit Schuler Books.
 
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Intelligent and well-crafted, Eventually, All of Them Are Lost is a brilliant collection of poetry that will engage readers and leave them wanting more. Jason Holton is an important new voice in the literary world and is definitely an author to watch!

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