“Do something every day. Write something. Submit something. Edit something. It doesn’t matter what—but DO something every day. Make it a part of your life and sooner or later, things will add up and you’ll get to your goal.”—John Yamrus
They Never Told Me This Would Happen, the nineteenth collection of poems by acclaimed author John Yamrus, was released in June 2012 by Epic Rites Press.
Tree Killer Ink: How would you describe the poems in They Never Told Me This Would Happen?
John Yamrus: What’s a knife to the heart feel like? You tell me.
Tree Killer Ink: What underlying element makes a Yamrus poem work?
John Yamrus: I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that one out. I’m been doing this for 42 years now and I still don’t know. I guess that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? If I knew...or thought I knew, I’d be blowing smoke up your dress. And I’m not about to do that.
Tree Killer Ink: What unified vision makes a Yamrus book work?
John Yamrus: Fear.
Tree Killer Ink: What common element appears in your first book and in your last?
John Yamrus: I can’t say I feel ANY connection to my early poems, other than to say that they were the baby steps that brought me to the ledge that I stand on now.
Tree Killer Ink: What is John Yamrus, the author, all about?
John Yamrus: That one’s easy...getting through the day, and having a warm place to sleep at night.
Tree Killer Ink: In a recent radio appearance, you remarked that when you wrote “write a poem about THAT,” it was like a golden brick of enlightenment had dropped on your head. Why? What had you achieved in that one poem that made such an impact?
“write a poem about THAT,”
sitting on the edge of the bed,
—from Doing Cartwheels On Doomsday Afternoon (Epic Rites Press, 2010)
John Yamrus: That’s also easy...that poem, which may be the best thing I ever wrote or will ever write, broke down the wall that stood between me and my readers. After that poem it was no longer me and them...it was only US.
Tree Killer Ink: What was the wall that stood between you and your readers?
John Yamrus: The wall was ME. Me, and my own preconceptions of what a poem was supposed to be. I was following old forms and old ideas. On so many levels it was stupid, dull and wrong.
Tree Killer Ink: How much does audience participation play in the success or failure of a John Yamrus poem?
John Yamrus: Tons. If I can’t get into my readers’ heads, I haven’t done my job. It’s as simple as that.
Tree Killer Ink: In your poem "in your life" you mention that "if you/ get to be/ your absolute/ most crystal perfect best,/ even once,/ you/ have/ won." Have you achieved your “absolute, most crystal perfect best” between the covers of They Never Told Me This Would Happen?
John Yamrus: God, I hope I haven’t. But at this point in time that’s the best writing I’ve ever done in my life. Fifty pages that absolutely sing, and I’m lucky enough to have my name put on the cover.
Tree Killer Ink: What do you hope your readers take away from your new book, They Never Told Me This Would Happen?