- Guest Poet -
Today I welcome a poet who hails from Texas, USA - Antuan Simmons.
Welcome, Antuan ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR POETRY JOURNEY.
I see myself as a real creative person. I grew up in a rural city so I had to constantly entertain myself. I did not have the opportunities of a big city. There was not much of an outlet for creative guys like me. Plus I had a job were I worked on the night shift and weekends, that was really limiting. So my outlet was writing poetry, reading, and working on my computer. I was not really into TV. I felt being creative was the best way to utilize my time.
You can call me a blogger. Instead of watching television I spent most of my time making blogs. I made a total of 7 blogs just for the fun of it. I made two blogs that are search engines. The Wolverine Search Engine www.wolverinesearchengine.com and the Cobra Search Engine. I also made a blog that is a black history video website that features popular African Americans, it is called Black History Films www.blackhistoryfilms.com. Blogs were my coping mechanism, it was the only thing that got my creativity juices going.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A POET?
I started writing poetry about 15 years ago. I found a book of poetry in my parents den and I just fell in love with the book. It introduced poetry to me in a new way. It was really emotional and in depth. It was not like the dry poetry that I read in school. It was a life changer. The Bible also greatly influenced me. I was going through this phase about religion and God, so I was reading a lot of the Bible. In which I am glad I did. I felt you truly was not reader unless you read the Bible. I had read numerous books even thousand page books, but not yet had read the Bible. So in away I felt I was doing myself a disservice. The Bible is the books of all books. The poetry in the Bible was simply amazing, and that is what turned me over to being a poet. On a side note I just finished reading the Bible cover to cover all 1500 pages last year.
My poetry journey has had its ups and downs. I have sold books here and there, not enough to live on. The intelligent and passionate people I have met have been astounding. It makes the monetary value less important. I have met people that I would of never of met if I had not been a poet. Those people to this day are my greatest motivators. They have the biggest hearts and a love for life. Their inspiration has brought even my journey through life to a higher level. I think that is what the arts do, it attracts those amazing people to you. The arts brings people to you to breathe life into you when the world is sucking you dry.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A POET?
I enjoy the coffee houses, lounges, poetry festivals, and poetry events. I like the ambiance that poetry creates. I like to see people perform and I like to perform. I just got my poetry reading journal together, so I am ready to flex my skills.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT POETRY?
The hardest thing about poetry is taking the time to write poetry. With all the things of life, job, bills, dating, errands, etc. It is hard to find time to write. I believe and know that writing is a gift from God. Only a person with a true gift for writing can fight through all the distractions to compose a book. Talent must come from a higher source. If a person can complete a book it is not because of their own skill it is comes from something higher. I have written 3 collections of poetry, and if a person is not passionate about their writing I cannot see how they can finish a book.
I think if you are a performance poet such as a spoken word poet, that can be demanding. Memorizing your poetry is pretty difficult. Unless you have a knack for memorizing. I have memorized about 3 poems, but I prefer reading from paper. I feel I am more a writer poet than a performance poet. Who knows if my rural city had a spoken word spot I might be geared to memorize and performing some poems. I have deep respect for those artist that can do that and the cities that provide those venues. I feel it is a great way to express your self and get over stage fright.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A POET?
In my past life, ha ha I was actually a track star at a division one college, but an illness forced me to come back home. I ran the 800 and the 400. My best 400 time was 47.28 and my best 800 time was 1:52.56. I gave up being an athlete the exercise was excruciating. I turned in my cleats for the pen.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
My greatest writing achievement is when I was invited to do a poetry reading for the women’s forum. It was an awesome experience. They had catered food, a guitar player, a book maker, and another outstanding poet. The local literary magazine put on the event and it was done very well. I felt really honored. I have even have more respect for them because they reached out to local poets.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I am currently working on my poetry website www.poetantuan.com I am featuring promotional and marketing ebooks to help other authors better promote their books. The books I am featuring are all downloads, so each book can be downloaded in a matter of seconds. I am hosting about 20 of these books.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
The love of life inspires me. I am free to be an entrepreneur and choose the life I want. Seeing people that I love and care for succeed inspires me. Seeing a person who was depressed and now is happy inspires me. Seeing a person accomplish their hopes and dreams inspires me. Just living life the best way I can inspires me. Whether you die young or old to at least say “I lived my life the best way I can and to my fullest potential!”
WHAT SORT OF POETRY DO YOU WRITE?
I write mostly inspirational poetry. I try and stay away from the religious stuff. I write feel good poetry not overly preachy. I don't want you to think your in the middle of a church when you read my books. I try to make my poetry relative to all creeds, races, organizations, religions, and people. I write for all humankind.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR ASPIRING POETS?
Keep at it, don't do it for fame or fortune, but do it because it is a part of you. If you write good poetry or just a good book you will be rewarded. It may not be in money, but it be in appreciation. You may have a fan base, you can never truly lose when you do something out of passion and love. It is only a win win situation. When people read your work they are seeing your spirit and heart, they see you. The don't see the fakeness of writing the book for only for a dollar. People want to see something not cookie cutted, but the original you. You can only write the books that you write. Be an originator not a duplicator. People flock to something good, well written and different.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
I don't really suffer from writers block, I suffer from tired block. To were I am so tired that I cannot write. Once I get the proper rest and time the words just easily come.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I do have a preferred writing schedule. I write the morning on my first day off from work. I always write the night after a good rest. During the work week I don't write.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
My favorite writing place is the college library in my hometown. It is called Midwestern State University Moffet library. I like that place a lot. Go Indians!
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
My greatest joy in writing is completing a book that took me years to write. Seeing it hot off the presses is a true joy. Someone saying “Congratulations” to me when I show them a book that took me years to write
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
My favorite author so far is Alex Haley. He only wrote a couple of books. I thought “Roots” was an amazing book. I still reflect a lot on the words that I read in that book. It was a great genealogical story of African Americans. I was amazed how he took the old story of a slave from Africa and connected to the modern family. I am a history buff so I love the concept of it.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
My greatest compliment was that there was a prisoner who read my book and that it help him out, made him cope better. You never know where your book might end up. I never would of thought it would end up in a prison.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
The worst comment that I got is when a English college professor told me to go back to grade school.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Some of my poems are about drug use. I never used drugs before, but I know family, friends, and associates who have. So I fed off of their stories. Drug use is so rampant in the community. It is so ingrained in our society.
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I love reading books, and surfing the internet. I also like to listen to talk radio.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
I had it edited by a couple of college students and a high school English teacher.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
My perfect day would be a gray rainy day. First going to a coffee house and having a sandwich. Downloading some music. Watching a movie, reading a freshly bought book. Reading my emails, and having a fresh cup of coffee.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
It would probably be with my best friend Erica Arevalo. She is the only one that can keep my attention for a long period of time. We can talk for hours. I think she would be very handy at catching fish and hunting wild animals. I think she can seam clothes too. She would be a good survivor.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
I would tell the leaders please invest more into the arts. We should have an event once every 4 years where all of the countries had an art show. Kind of like the Olympics. It should showcase all of the arts from music, to dance, to painting, to poetry. The arts are good for the spirit.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
My plans for the future is making a poetry radio station. Also going on a book tour soon. I am also making a Youtube like website for poets.
WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO YOUR GRAVE?
I would take the Bible, my three books that I wrote, and History for
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
I don't think I have any characters in any of my poetry books.
DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
I am kind of in this new publishing generation. I am a 100% indie self publisher. The industry does not really frustrate me. Being a self publisher I really don't mess with traditional publishers. I feel I am a Maverick and I make my own destiny. I do wish there were better platforms to promote authors. I know someone will come up with this amazing platform to get authors out there. It is just a matter of time. Only the most savvy and informative authors will ever succeed in it. There are so many authors out there. Only a few know what they are doing.
DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
I never thought about totally quitting, but I have thought about going on hiatus a couple of times. There has always been something to keep driving me. Someone comes up with a new technology, someone creates a new telesiminar, someone makes a new author marketing tool. Technology these days is way more advance than 15 years ago when I first started out. There is no limit to how far future publishing will go.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE POEM TO WRITE? WHY?
My favorite poem to write was a poem called “Two Strangers” It was a great poem that talked about time and death and how it affected human beings. The poem was from my first book “The Phoenix's Dying Light”
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
Success as a writer is the love and respect you get from doing what you do. That your books were relative and that it helped people. You helped people get over a hard time in there lives, and that you wrote a good story. Respect is important, it is even more important than money. They are a lot of people who have money who are not respected. You went to the grave knowing your books helped society better. Your books can be read by people years after you are dead.
WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR POETRY KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
I want them to feel that I did not waste their time. My book was worth the money they spent. There is nothing worse than spending money on a book that sucked, and it did not live up to their expectations. The book was a poor investment.
HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
I usually choose a book cover that is relative to the book.
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
My ultimate dream is years after I die and sometime in the future that students will be flying in a spaceship talking about my books. I would be heaven looking down at them saying “At least I wrote a book that lasted over the years, wow, good job Antuan!” I write books for the present and for the future readers also.
WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
Marketing is tough. I am just learning you need money to market. Charm and good looks only goes so far. Marketing companies want cash. Websites want cash. That is why there should be an alliance of writers and authors created to help market each other for a low cost fee or for free.
ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
All of my books are self published and can be bought on Amazon. Just go to Amazon and type in “Antuan Simmons” or “Antuan Simmons books” and my books will pop up. You can also go to my Amazon author central.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Thank you Clancy for giving me the chance to do your interview. This was great and easy to answer. You know how to bring out the truth of a person. I think people who read this interview will have a good idea to who Antuan Simmons is. Remember I have a search engine called Wolverine Search Engine www.wolverincesearchengine.com and Black History Films video website www.blackhistoryfilms.com
Please check them out. Two books on Amazon “Antuan Simmons “The Crab Syndrome” and “Antuan Simmons “The Mustard Seed” both on Kindle. Visit my poetry website Poet Antuan www.poetantuan.com I believe that is about it. I had an amazing time doing the interview. It was fun.