I was still in my impromptu return to the Philippines when Kat Lahr, creative director of Thought Collection Publishing and someone whose vibes resonate with mine, emailed me, wondering if I’d be interested in editing and reviewing the first entry to the 30 Days… Challenge, with the summary of the poetry book floating around words like “spiritual”, “soul-searching” and “sober”. This has to be one of those ventures where I left a more enriched person and writer.
“30 Days Dry” is the first entry to Thought Collection Publishing’s 30 Days… Challenge, which encourages literary artists to write about a specific topic or story for thirty consecutive days (I’ll post the link to it below so you can join!). Shoemaker’s entry focuses on addiction, and seizing the light of sobriety through “self-betterment and de-contamination of the body and mind”. For the full review on the book and on how to get your copy, click on this link now!
“30 Days Dry” also features the gritty and fantastical artwork by artist Susanne Wawra, which helps visualise those that cannot be through words; the crayon-like effect gives out an impression of a child’s work, but the actual images themselves combined with that evokes a fittingly haunting vibe.
As with any WYT entry, I got the chance to ask my subject a few questions, this time I got to ask Eric about the book, his origins as a writer and everything else in between.
1. How does your work as a playwright help influence your “30 Days” entry?
I think of myself as a multi- and inter-disciplinary artist, especially when it comes to the combination of poetry and playwriting. I often sign things as a “poet-playwright,” in the tradition of Classical playwrights who were referred to by the term “poet”. The intermingling of craft creates livelier text, on either end, and it’s vital that artists continue to broaden their perspective by working in many disciplines and with many types of other artists.
“30 Days Dry” is a meditation on myself (self-indulgent, to some extent) and what art and survival mean to me. I think there’s a big element of theatricality in this piece due to the mingling of voice and craft.
2. Poetry has been a powerful part of artists’ lives and careers. How did poetry come into your life?
I was someone who didn’t identify as a poet at first. I originally (high school and before) wrote exclusively prose, mostly short stories. I remember that, senior year, we skipped our poetry unit in American Lit. I took a peek into our Lit book and discovered e e cummings- and was immediately love-struck. I went home and tried to copy his style. So it went, me reading and studying others’ styles, and so it continues! What’s a poet if not a reader of other poets?
3. I really had an enlightening experience reading your poems and I can really see this being a helpful healing tool for those who need it. What’s your take on art therapy and do you think it’s more beneficial than the more traditional, timed sessions with a therapist?
Many activities are at least as therapeutic as talk therapy- but don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and value talking to a sympathetic person about my problems. I would recommend, to anyone, trying to find their own form of therapy. When you have a problem that you or a loved one recognizes, actively engage yourself in new practices to work your way out of that problem, or it will compound.
I really appreciate your saying that about my poems! I wrote them as a self-improvement challenge to myself. What would a month be like if I set goals, realistic goals, that I could see change and improvement through? My guiding principle was to say yes to the good and no to the bad, no matter how hard, but I didn’t chastise myself if I messed up. I just kept rolling, and tried to get better. The exercise of journalling really put me in a space of accountability and reflection, which allowed me to feel that I was improving. I hope other people can find something similar- whether it’s talk therapy or journalling or songwriting or nature hikes- that will help them improve on themselves.
4. Your style of poetry here jumps from rigid, jumps from one place to another to very fluid and almost like human speech. Tell us your inspirations and motivations when writing these pieces?
I feel that, as with most artistic work, each project I embark on has a different flavor and style. “30 Days Dry” feels, to me, very…me! It’s sometimes funny or quirky, by turns dark, introspective, fanciful…it has many different flavors. And they blur together to become one unit. I was thinking a lot about borrowing and appropriation at the time (January 2015) when I wrote the poems…I was in the middle of adapting my friend’s Ovid translations to the stage…and so I borrowed names, thoughts, identities for this set of poems.
5. What’s next for Eric?
Normally, I would say whatever the wind carries to me. But I’m currently working on a year-long translation and staging project, so I know what’s happening until next May! This project is LORCA IN AMERICA, a grant-funded exploration 0f the Spanish poet-playwright’s work adapted to an American audience. I’m translating a LOT of poetry and theatre for this project, and am staging several new productions. Check it out online! And thanks for being attentive.
30 Days Dry:
Kindle: 30 Days Dry
Magzter: 30 Days Dry
Print: 30 Days Dry
Personal website: reshoemaker.com
Facebook: Robert Eric Shoemaker
Personal website: susanwawra.com
Facebook: Susanne Warwa
30 Days… Challenge Contact Information:
Webzine page: 30 Days… Challenge
Kat Lahr (Creative Director): firstname.lastname@example.org