Today, Hiram Larew continues a discussion about writing, poetry and his latest book, More Than Anything, which was published by Vrzhu Press last year. Read Part 1 of the interview here on the Weirding Word Blog.
WW: Tell me about More Than Anything.
HL: First off, I got word from Vrzhu out of the blue. It was a gift to have gotten that request for a manuscript. I’d been wanting to shop a manuscript around because I felt that I had a few poems that could be fit into a book. So, we worked together. There’s not a theme. It’s a hodgepodge of poems that have been written over the years. It contains pieces that reflect my awe in how life plays itself out. There are several poems about relationships, there are poems about anger, and there are poems about heritage. I enjoy reading poems by others—by that I mean reading silently as well as aloud—and I enjoy reading some of these poems to others.
Kim and I have been doing so many readings that we say we’ll be able to recite each other’s poetry when it’s all done. I think the time she spent in India compliments the kind of wandering in my poems as we do readings.
WW: Now, this is not your first book.
HL: My first chapbook was published by the City of Baltimore by Artscape, which focused on the literary arts. In 1999 I submitted a manuscript and was lucky enough to have it accepted. It’s called Part Of and it was also a series of poems, not a storyline collection.
WW: What is different about your writing now that you didn’t expect when you first started?
HL: I think the poetry now is influenced by a much broader life experience. It’s influenced by a very supportive writing community, which influences me in terms of the kinds of things I include. And, I think my writing is influenced by events and remarkable joys that I’ve faced. Now, saying that I think it’s matured, is it wiser? I don’t know about that. It may be a little bit more patterned, not quite as freewheeling as it was when I was younger. I sometimes look at pieces I’ve written and it feels like I’m a different person. I can’t help but wonder, if I’m still writing in 20 years if I’ll have a very different voice. But I don’t want to predict what I’ll be writing. My writing is about the unexpected, so if there were a plot line, it would take out the enjoyment I have in writing.
One of the reviewers of More Than Anything said how it seems to be focused on discovery. First off, I rarely have my writing reviewed, so it was interesting to me to see what others had to say about my writing. My writing is about discovery and trying to understand. I had not thought of the word discovery , but the reviewer helped me by using that word.
WW: How did writing and becoming published transform your life?
HL: For me writing is the only place I can go where I can do, be and say what I want to do, be and say without a great deal of constraints. If there are rules, they’re my rules. It’s a retreat. It’s a place I can go and work with only the notion that what I’m doing is only going to be judged by me and probably by time. It’s not therapeutic, but it is a place of a kind of unremitting freedom. So that’s why it’s so incredibly important to me to be given the opportunity, the luxury of the opportunity.
With publishing, it’s the opportunity to see whether or not anything I’m doing is appreciated, is understood, is enjoyed. To have your work shared is a remarkable process. As so many other writers have said, it’s no longer your work. People can chew on it, spit on it, recite it. It’s no longer your own. When you put it in the public domain, it’s no longer your diary. It’s something other people can see and react to. It’s open to all the winds of acclamation and criticism. It’s interesting feedback.
WW: At Weirding Word (SM), we believe that “language creates reality”. How does language create reality in your life? In your writing?
HL: Um, I think I’d have to question the assumption. For me, language often questions reality. Maybe in doing that it creates reality of its own. For me language is a way, writing is a way and speaking is a way of trying to convey meaning and sense. Often, what I find most interesting are things that have meaning but don’t make sense. I think life doesn’t have a game plan and try to take a look at it and appreciate and fathom. When I think of language creating reality, it makes me think of trying to make things crystal clear and I’m not sure that’s possible.
WW: What’s next for you?
HL: One thing I’ve noticed here recently is that the activity surrounding the publication of a collection is somewhat intentioned with the need/urge to move forward. The collection and the celebration of it is, in fact, looking back and you’re celebrating something that’s been done. And I’m interested in that. I’m trying to get my eyes ahead and keep working, but it’s difficult to stay with my feet where I am. I’m not sure if there will be a chronicle. I think one piece I just finished has everything from Romeo to waking up with the love of your life. It’s a strange mosaic of different pieces. It gives me hope that there are things beyond More Than Anything that I can continue to work on.
The next Weirding Word (SM) interview will be with Ann Timmons, Communications Artist.