Jeremiah Walton, a recent high school graduate from New Hampshire, has worked hard to scope the expanse of poetry and online publication by attending spoken poetry conventions and publishing free works on his website for fans of the form. Now, he plans to travel and he is taking his poetry and ambition with him.
When I first discovered Jeremiah’s poetry, it was through an online video featuring his spoken word art. For a while, I was a fan unaware of how much he had accomplished. Once I discovered the vast amount of online presence he has established, I explored all he has worked hard to offer the public. It was absolute, his talent is one that must be shared and supported. Jeremiah’s voice and passion for the creative is inspirational for artists of all mediums and talent.
GT: Jeremiah, you are from New Hampshire. Did you attend school there?
JW: I attended Bedford High School, but nothing beyond that. I just graduated and was originally considering college, but I can teach myself what I need to learn without selling my arms.
GT: What sparked your interest in poetry? How long have you considered yourself a poet?
JW: I don’t know what sparked my interest in poetry particularly. The oldest poems I have date back to 5th grade, but I didn’t have a strong interest then.
In middle school, I began writing “lyrics”. They were basically poems, but I was insecure, and didn’t want to be made fun of my peers, so I didn’t call them poems. I want to change that mentality and stereotyping of poetry, because it’s ridiculous I felt the need to act so. We’re all poets, we just don’t know it.
GT: Did you ever personally experience this ridicule for your poetry? Have you connected with many other high school aged poets?
JW: I have friends that screw around with me, but they aren’t being serious. When I was younger I was a little bit, but nothing serious. During my Senior year, I spent a lot of time promoting poetry to my peers, from bringing them to the local slam to starting a poetry club. I tried showing them what the teachers didn’t when teaching poetry in the curriculum. I wanted to dispel the negative stereotypes.
A lot of kids write poetry, but not many take it as a passion. It’s a form of venting for them. I can totally get that. I love skateboarding, but wouldn’t call it a passion. It’s a way I vent. I’ve only met a couple kids so far who have said “this is what I want to do with my life,” and I’m hoping to meet more as I travel.
GT: You have been extremely active in the poetry community with an impressive resume for a poet of 18 years old. You managed Nostrovia! Poetry during 2011-2013. How did you get involved with Nostrovia! Poetry, and how has that impacted your other endeavors?
JW: Nostrovia! Poetry was initially a website solely for my writing. It was to help put out my chapbook “Nostrovia!” (a cancelled project), that I attempted to publish using a vanity press. That was a big money drainer and bigger mistake.
I became bored talking about myself and started a Guest Blog for other poets to submit to. Then I started a weekly contest (it became monthly), started putting out chapbooks, zines, micro-chaps, and whatever seemed the most fun at the time. It gave me the knowledge I needed to start Walking Is Still Honest, and get the ball rolling further.
I’ve been doing a lot of work for Underground Books. Keep your eyes on that press, as there are great things brewing there.
GT: Do you know about how many guest bloggers and poets you have published?
JW: I have no idea. Between Nostrovia! Poetry’s publishing projects, W.I.S.H. Publishing, Underground Books, and The Traveling Poet, at least 600 poets have been published.
GT: You provide free access to much of your work on your blog, Gatsby’s Abandoned Children, including a collection of coming-of-age works entitled This Poem is an Ignored 911 Call. It opens with a “A 911 Call” about a tenderfoot who enters New York City believing “that he’d cross stitch his name/ into the poetry community’s forehead.” How much of this poem is true of you?
JW: It is almost entirely about me. When I went to the 2013 NYC Poetry Festival, I learned I have a lot more to do in order to succeed as a poet in the traditional sense.
I’ve sunk my teeth and brain into publishing my work and others. I need to refresh myself, obtain new experiences, meet new faces, and focus on the quality of my writing, rather than publishing it. That’s why I’m going traveling and ceasing to submit to journals on a regular basis. I’ll still maintain WISH (it’s all online) and my personal blog, though.
I can continually bash my head against the internet promoting content, but if the content is not of value there’s no need to promote it.
GT: In “What Makes Us Human,” there is a line, “I work as a kitchen server at a nursing home for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.” Are you a poet with a day job? If so, how does your work influence your art?
JW: I did work at a nursing home for a year and a half. I quit this month so I can start making my way around the East coast.
What I was doing wasn’t that interesting. It was a basic kitchen server job. I’d do dishes, prepare salads, do a lot of cleaning, etc. The people I worked with did shape some of my writing. I made a couple good friends there who gave me insights into different lifestyles, opinions, and provided concepts to drive new poems.
I did meet a man who claimed to have been one of Allen Ginsberg’s boyfriends working there though. He used to write screenplays. He was a pretty interesting fellow.
GT: You have an ebook, recently published, entitled Smile With Sparks (of a shotgun shot).Although physical copies of this book are not currently available to order, you are passing along copies as you travel. You write on your blog “this is a pass-along book,” and that “Poetry is something that needs to be promoted to more than just the poetic community.” Why do you think the general public needs to be exposed to poetry? Do you think offering poetry for little to no cost encourages this exposure?
JW: It’s not specifically poetry that needs to be promoted, but a form of creative work that is done for the self. Poetry is just that, and poetry is the passion I’ve fallen into. It’s the one I’m going to promote, but people would be healthier if they had an activity they participated in for the sole sake of participating in the active–a passion to bear seedless fruit.
GT: Did you find a lack of creativity in the curriculum provided during your experience as a student? How do you think this is effecting young adults in their identity and interests?
JW: Yes. YES! It was obnoxious, at least at my school. The teachers had absolutely no interest to begin with, and neither did the students. Slam and other aspects of modern poetry and its diversity were not mentioned. We read Robert Frost and the Brownings and other poets of a time period past.
I’m not disregarding the work those poets, but simply stating that kids today need something they can connect with. That’s why I enjoy Steven Roggenbuck. He is a voice of this sad generation.
It’s not particular poetry itself affecting people’s identities, but the lack of poetry in living. We’re all living a poem. The best poems are found in conversation. Many people are ignoring the poetry of living though. This sort of poetry can be found in any form of passion or creativity. It brings us back to “creating for Self”.
GT: Tell us a little bit about what to expect from Smile with Sparks (of a shotgun shot).
JW: Expect me to have upped the ante. This is a compilation of poems I have ripped a part to make the best they can be. I want to leave one last powerful collection before I start to focus on travels, people, and writing, versus publishing, distribution, reviews, and all the other wonderful things that go into running a press.
By the time my next publication comes out, I’m hoping to have grown a lot as a poet. This collection will be a testimony to my youth, and a validation of my existence, as all chapbooks should be. It contains poems regarding 21st century youth, this generation, the kids who are struggling to find place, the confusions found in aging, the confusions found in breathing, and so on.
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