glimpses at poets and pubs dubbed underground

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

John Swain- The Next Big Thing- Q & A

                                   Photo by Lynn Alexander. (c) 2012

Bree invited me to participate in "THE NEXT BIG THING," a chain-letter blog project where an author asks five other authors to answer the following questions about one of the author's books, and each is meant to post their answers on their blog, with links to the other authors' blogs. (Bree generously provided this space for me.) 

What is the title of the book?

JS: White Vases

Where did the idea come from for the book?

JS: The idea behind the book was to build a welcoming home for some stray pieces I had that I really liked, but had had a hard time placing. These odd pieces complemented and reinforced some previously published work that I was planning to use for a different collection. Without a prior realization, the poems all seemed to examine the nature and movement of vessels and water- things coming together and moving apart and the resultant changing. The sequencing of the poems began to flow intuitively.  Just little pictures of wherever my center may have been at a particular time.    

What genre does your book fall under?

JS: Poetry. Much clatter and palaver is made over sub-genres in poetry, but I don’t find these distinctions instructive or useful as a reader. Words are vehicles to approximate what is essentially unsayable.  If a poem has heart, then it has heart. The limited perspective and circumstances of the poet are simply an interesting window dressing to the actual communication.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

JS: Hmmm. I would probably have my friend Brian’s daughter, Hannah, play the rain. Lon Chaney could play a white vase. Bill Pullman would be God and all my friends and I would be the trees.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

JS: The extended sound of an imperiled goat-cry.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

JS: Most of the poems in White Vases were written over a period of two to three years. I started the poem, “Promise of Rivers,” a little farther back.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

JS: Poetry is not created, but uncovered. Poetry exists outside of the writer’s mind and senses in the people and things around us. I once tried to look within and didn’t find anything very interesting or worthwhile. So, I took my dull chisel and just fashioned and reshaped little flakes of things from a magic and vitality that is always and already out there.    

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

JS: The cover art was kindly provided by the wonderful Cleveland artist, Steven Smith.

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

JS: White Vases was published by the independent Crisis Chronicles Press out of Northeastern Ohio. Crisis Chronicles has a diverse and extensive catalogue. All of the titles are produced by editor, John Burroughs, a talented and widely published poet in his own right.

Find White Vases here:

I have tagged the great Kevin Ridgeway and his answers will be posted to the link below on 2/20/13.

Kevin Ridgeway:


  1. Thank you Bree for providing the space for this, I love his answers. I love that you have been so supportive of our mutual friend John! He deserves the love. Hope to see you again in Cleveland this Spring.

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