Funny little side story before I get into this interview, oddly enough it’s Jeremy M. Tolbert’s interview — I am posting today – links to my present day. Yesterday, I was in the middle of a DM with another Poet, Myers-Briggs testing was mentioned during our conversation. I had completely forgotten what my specific initials were, and I’ve grown as an adult so thought that it would be fun to take it over. (Oddly enough by the time I was done and had one teenager and another preteen interested in taking the test for themselves – results were interesting to say the least.) One thing I noticed had changed I had grown from a gregarious extravert to a please just let me do my own thing introvert. Makes you think, Jeremy is an INJF which happens to be one of the rarest personality combinations ever – quite thoughtful if you think about it. For more of Jeremy’s story please read below, he has furnished us with a nice plump interview. I’d like to invite all of you to follow Jeremy on Instagram at @jeremymtolbert.
RMMW: What is the relationship between your speaking and writing voice?
JMT: I’ve spent years explaining to family and friends on how I speak versus how I write. I would say the relationship between the two have been in a bitter divorce since The beginning. They are complete opposites. I am reminded by what Anais Nin Once said, “the role of the writer is not to say what we are all can say, but what We are unable to say.” I believe that sums up precisely this ‘ship. I’ve always been
Quiet around people, but leave me with my machine gun (typewriter) or a pen and paper and I’ll open up like a sieve. That’s why I believe my work is real and raw, it’s because I don’t hold back. I do not like to mince words so when I do speak It all means something to me.
RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it?
JMT: Unfortunately, I have suffered through writers block several times, to the point of nearly quitting altogether. I had Just finished my third or fourth book and I felt spent. I thought I had nothing left, along with being rejected over and over— I felt I was going nowhere to where my confidence had waned. I had written about very personal issues and events that I thought it had taken its toll and all of my creativity. But like many other parts of my life, I did not let that stop me from continuing with what I loved so much. I knew I would always have things to write about, so I took baby steps towards where I wanted to be to help me find myself and my voice once again. Since then, I have found my desire and am working on my sixth book.
RMMW: We all have to contend with our inner critic, how do you deal with yours?
JMT: My inner critic is what fuels me the most. Wanting to be the best writer that I can be. I used to believe I would write the next generational novel (I still can), get seen and sign a contract with one of the three big publishing houses, travel the world on tours and be on top ten lists and win awards. The reality is far from that. I am happy if I get mentioned on the socials, other writers mention me, and selling at least one copy that my mother did not pay for. I still do have those goals, but I have become perfectly fine with my status as an underground poet. As long as, I still love the act and art of writing and I put work out that I love and speaks to me, that’s all that matters. If others happen to read or listen to what I’ve written and enjoy it, the more the merrier. I am tough on myself, for example, the way I write long form essays or how my poetry flows; I critique everything before I let anyone else see it, making sure the flow and my voice compliment each other. The rejection slips and the desire to continue what I love keeps me going.
RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?
JMT: I don’t believe I have any rituals, as Hemingway once quipped, “all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” But I tend to do the same things perhaps in different ways. For example, several things I do are, 1. I must leave my house; I cannot write at home or the distractions will take over my mind. I leave for coffeehouses or bars. My first book, “Scribblings From a Beer-Stained Napkin,” was written primarily in bars, on coasters and napkins. 2. I absolutely need my headphones and to listen to music while I write. If I do not have them with me I will head home or I won’t write that day or I’ll buy new ones. Listening to music helps me clear my mind and helps me focus on the words. 3. I will not leave until I’ve completed three to five new pieces per day. It is a far cry from Bukowski’s output but hopefully soon I will reach his level.
RMMW: What is your favourite poem written by you?
JMT: I have three favorite poems of my own. 1. Dear mom and dad (vacuum salesman) 2. Dear Father series 3. The Last poem in Tragedy in Sin.
RMMW: What made you decide to include Myers Briggs testing as a part of your writing? (Very cool by the way!)
MT: I wrote about my Myers-Briggs personality because mine, INJF, which is the rarest, showcases both my inner workings as an individual as well as a writer and poet. As a true introvert the art of writing, which is a solitary endeavor matches with who I am. While I am able to assimilate to those around me, my true persona is one who could roam invisible in a sea of people and be completely content and free. Sitting and bleeding out with my headphones in dark shadows- similar to what the Geto Boys so eloquently stated, “I sit alone in my four cornered room staring at candles. At night I can’t sleep, I toss and turn, candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned. Four walls staring at a beep, paranoid sleeping with my finger on the trigger.”
RMMW: How do you feel when you are on stage reciting your pieces?
JMT: Poetry readings and I have always had a love/hate. Similar to how Bukowski felt, doing them only for the free booze and appearance payment. The only difference is I perform for free and pay for the booze. It has become almost a requirement to share lines just to be heard if you want anyone else, other than your mother, to buy your work. I’ve always been afraid of being on stage and that fear continues while I read. It is so different, the act of performing what you’ve written versus sitting sedentarily typing them out with only your eyes ears hearing them.
RMMW: When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
JMT: September 25, 2005. That date will live with me till I die. It was when I decided that the act of writing was what I wanted to do and felt I could do as a profession. In many respects, I was always a writer from the time I was small, scribbling in my journals and enjoying the idea of putting my thoughts on paper. It was my therapy. Yet, it was the moment I opened Charles Bukowski’s “Women” and Chuck Klosterman’s “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs,” that solidified my desire and passion, turning my enjoyment of writing into a need, like Knut Hamsun’s book, “Hunger”. It’s been my love ever since.
RMMW: What do you relish most about poetry?
JMT: What I love most about poetry is how one can express so many emotions; conveying a rawness full of pain, fear, happiness, heartbreak and love in the most simplest way. If you know what you’re doing, there will be no fluff. Bukowski once said, “each line must have its own power, its own feeling, its own juice, its own flavor. Writing must never be boring. It must not bore the reader, the writer…you have to have juice in each line.” I couldn’t agree more. Every poet that I draw from has and had the ability to express themselves with a power by not saying nearly anything.
RMMW: What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
JMT: My work schedules throughout the years have always been favorable for my writing. I am an early riser, so I tend to write the majority of my work in the mornings before I head to work and then I either edit, add and or delete at night.
RMMW: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
JMT: My most interesting quirk that I can think of is when I go off to write I always go toward the farthest corners. Whether it be a corner bar stool, or coffee house stool. I’ve been doing unconsciously for years since my first book.
RMMW: How old were you when you published your first book? And how long did it take to write?
JMT: It was 2011, when I was 32 years old, when I wrote and published My first book, “Scribblings From a Beer-Stained Napkin,”. I had collected works that I meant to send to journals and literary magazines, but I came up with the idea of collecting them all. The title is a dedication to Bukowski, a play on one of his anthologies and because I spent 90% of my time in bars around Seattle while I was writing it; scribbling on beer coasters and napkins. It took about a year to write and collect them all.
RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?
JMT: If I had a superpower, I would want to be both invisible, have the ability to turn back time and/or to have a magical ability, like Mary Poppins or HP, to put back together buildings, living things and lives.