Today’s guest is an American poet and a true gentleman. I met Ben Ditmars a few years ago while in the US, and he’s such a creative and gentle soul. His poetry is raw yet polished, and his words are lyrical and evocative. It’s a real pleasure for me to find out what Ben’s been up to lately.
Welcome to Booktastik, Ben!
So, how’s the writing going? Have you been doing much of it lately?
I have actually. I’ve been working on a zine, a young adult book and my current release featuring poetry from my blog. I’ve also been getting a local writing group together in Delaware, Ohio.
Wow, you’ve been very busy!
So many writers go straight to novels. Why do you prefer writing poetry to novels?
Poetry helps me analyze and interpret ideas. I often feel like I don’t understand where I’m going or the deeper reason for writing until I’ve finished a poem or series of them. There’s catharsis in something you can read out loud and find a rhythm in as well. Novels are amazing, though. I’m attempting to create an epic poem in a story format. It’s an Alice in Wonderland adventure about sexual exploration.
That’s intriguing. Good luck!
You have several poetry books out. Does each collection follow one theme? If not, how do you decide which poems to include?
Oh, yes. I love having a theme tying poems together. It has been something as simple as night, or more complex, like environmentalism in Sleeping with Earth. Number Poetry, my latest release, collects the mathematical poems I’ve written on my blog. It has been a recurring theme and type I share most often. Science and logic were a cornerstone in previous collections, as both are how I tend to view the world, as opposed to religion. I see stars or watch a documentary about space and I realize humans are part of something much larger. There’s a calming beauty in it.
What kinds of things inspire you?
Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Space. Politics. Spending time with my girlfriend. Exploring the world. I like to have a wide variety of experiences, because I feel writing reflects life. Especially poetry. It has always stood as a historical record for me, in addition to being literary; how people felt at a given moment or imagined it could be.
How would you describe your writing style?
Like Neil deGrasse Tyson writing Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, I always imagined I write poetry for people on the go. I like writing things I can repeat to myself and memorize. Having an exceptionally short memory, these usually end up being haiku or haiku-like. My style gets confused with haiku a lot even when I’m not trying to be Basho.
Increasingly, it is also scientific or politically based. I watch a lot of documentaries on astrophysics and spend a great deal of time reading news articles.
Do you find the mood of your poems change with how you feel in your day-to-day life?
Occasionally, the mood changes while I’m writing the same poem. I jot down several ideas over the course of a few days and bring them together. Almost like a panorama photograph. I do this to gain perspective and also, because I get easily distracted. It helps keep me on track.
Do you do any poetry slams or live readings?
Not too many, but I did read to students at an after-school program recently. I have to travel far because I live in a rural area.
Who are your favourite poets?
Susie Clevenger, Helle Gade, Nadia Hasan, Peter Forster, Natasha Head, Poppy Ruth Silver, Phoebe Gazi – I follow many on Facebook and Twitter and love reading them in my feed.
How often do you write?
Never as often as I would like. I try to write at least once a week but I realize it should be more.
What are your favourite types of poems to write?
Haiku, short-verse, and political pieces. I like finding beauty in an arcane concept or idea.
Generally, how many drafts does each poem go through before you’re happy with it?
Oh, I don’t know if I can count how many I go through. I can spend hours on a single line.
Wow, that’s intense. Makes me feel better about when I’m struggling to make a sentence sound lyrical.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I am working on my Alice in Wonderland piece about a girl who comes to grips with her sexual identity by going through the window in her school restroom. She has to stop an evil king who wants everyone to be the same gender by force. So, it should be good 😊
That sounds really cool and very relevant.
Thank you, Dionne!
It’s been my absolute pleasure. As usual, what you’re working on sounds awesome and original. Can’t wait to see how it all goes. And have a great Christmas season!
Readers, you can find Ben’s poetry collections on Amazon. Just click the book covers below to visit the book on Amazon, and if you’d like to connect with Ben or follow what he’s up to, you can find him on Facebook, Twitter and his blog.
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