The World According to B. Diehl

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Custom Letter “B” Design by Darold Pinnock; Picture created by RJ Wagg

 

cocktailmolly
When can you recall the moment that you knew you were in love with writing poetry?
Brandon Diehl
I wish I had a better answer for this because I feel as though a lot of other writers have a similar answer. But I’d be lying if I said anything other than this: I fell in love with writing poetry shortly after I read a Charles Bukowski book for the first time. I remember picking it up and thinking, “Wait, this is considered poetry? I thought poetry had to be incomprehensible or have a rhyme scheme.” As soon I realized poetry can be whatever you want it to be, I fell in love with the freedom of it, and fell in love with writing it. This was in January of 2013.
cocktailmolly
Oh Bukowski is great for those that wish to write outside the more traditional & typically boring stuff. I know so many people who are fans of his work, including myself.  So what themes generally lights fire within you and gets you to grab your pen & write, or head to the computer and type a poem? What things do you typically find yourself being emotionally bonded to when you are writing?
Brandon Diehl
I’m a teenager at heart, so I tend to write about silly flings with girls (which sometimes lead to serious relationships), over-the-top angst (which some might compare to the angst of a 2004 Senses Fail song), my family, my friends, weird people I meet, etc. I like the idea of being able to turn anything I see into a poem. I try not to write “universal” poetry too much because I think personal poems have a better chance at seeming original. I don’t stay away from universal poems completely, but I think all of the universal themes have already been written about in so many ways. I’d rather write about getting the mail or driving to the Phillipsburg Quick Chek for coffee. I’d rather write about my ex-lovers or friends and use their names in the text. My poems usually reads like journal entries because of that. My poems are not very poem-y. Also, I try to write in the same voice I talk in, if that makes sense. When I use too many fancy words in a poem, I feel like I’m being fake or something.
cocktailmolly
So I have read on your page & in other interviews that it had taken you three years to get your first full length book of poems, Zeller’s Alley completed. 418-7jqzfal-_sx322_bo1204203200_Would you mind sharing what the experience to complete this book was like for you as well as when can your admirers expect another full length book of poems from you?  
Brandon Diehl
The reason it took so long is because I had no idea what I was doing when I got started. I was teaching myself how to write poetry but somehow managed to turn my learning exercises into a book. The process was stressful and time-consuming. It was so hard to make time to write because I worked full-time in a warehouse. The manuscript went through many different drafts before I started submitting it to publishers. And a poet friend of mine, Cleveland Wall, ended up becoming the editor for the book. I could not have made the book as good as it is without her. She picked out certain parts of certain poems that needed improvement, and she helped figure out the order of the poems as they ended up appearing in the final draft. I’m really satisfied with the job she did. After I got rejected from two publishers, the third publisher I sent my book to, White Gorilla Press, accepted it within a few weeks. I was so shocked. I actually have another full-length written, but I have not edited it very much yet. I’m hoping to finish the final touches on it and find a home for it soon. With any luck, it will be released into the world in 2017.
cocktailmolly
Also, I noticed you declare yourself to be a writer that edits his work extensively. Great. Recently I wrote an article about brevity in poetry and writers tendency to edit their works until it loses that creative punch. How do you manage to edit your work extensively and maintain the creative & emotional intensity found in your work?
Brandon Diehl
It’s all about knowing when to stop. It took me a while to learn how to do this right, and I’ve been dozens of poems to death in the process. It’s great to go over your work and fix grammar and punctuation if you are a person who cares about grammar and punctuation. It’s great to replace your laziest lines with stronger lines that’ll hit readers harder. No piece of art is ever 100% complete, but you need to start and finish a poem while the idea is still fresh. Then move on and do something else. Right around the time you start getting bored by your own poem is when your poem is probably okay to stop working on. I think while a poem is in development, it has an expiration date on it. It’s all about moving on before your emotions about the subject die down.
cocktailmolly
I saw one of your promotional commercials for your poetry book and thought it was hilarious & a great way to market yourself & work creatively via social media. I’m curious though about your readings of your work. How do you conduct those? Is it in a performance style or do you like to read them from the book?
Brandon Diehl
I haven’t made a YouTube video in a while, but I will again at some point. I either use my MacBook or my iPhone for those. No overly fancy cameras. I think a lot of writers have pretentious styles of promoting their own work, so I just like to change things up a bit. I like making fun of myself and making myself look stupid. I think if you’re a writer and you take yourself too seriously, it turns people away because they think you’re narcissistic. As for the readings…I’m definitely not a slam poet. I don’t even consider myself a performance poet. I just read from my book or printer paper. I try to read in my own voice, which is a challenge at times because people sometimes look like they are going to fall asleep at poetry readings unless you literally scream your words at them like my friend Damian Rucci does. I fucking love and respect that guy’s style, but I have a different approach. Damian Rucci has a gift to be able to yell at people and still seem genuine. A lot of people do not have that. A lot of them just speak in overdramatic tones of voice that don’t reflect their actual feelings. Sometimes they even pretend to cry when they read. I don’t like that. I don’t like anything fake. I think over-performing can kill a poem in the same way that over-editing can. It takes away from the real/raw emotion.
cocktailmolly
I agree with you. What is fake is definitely what is lame. Can you tell me who are some of your favorite poets, past & present? And what other things (Music, Art, etc) influences your desire to write poetry? Do you have a routine or is it spontaneous (free-flowing)?
Brandon Diehl
It seems lame to claim your friends are your favorite poets, but I read with Damian Rucci and Charles Joseph all the time, and they are two of my favorites. Besides them, I love Bukowski (as I’ve already mentioned), I love E. E. Cummings, I love Sylvia Plath. Most of the poets I love are still alive, though: Sam Pink, Noah Cicero, Dave Newman, Rob Plath, Amber Decker, Billy Collins, Andrea Gibson, Hosho McCreesh, Sierra DeMulder — the list goes on and on. Some of them are slam poets and some are page poets. They are all great writers of poetry, though. Reading poetry inspires me to write poetry, but I also like listening to music with lyrics filled angst because that inspires me to write poetry as well. When it comes to music, I like American Football, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Promise Ring, Senses Fail, Blink-182, Silverstein, Bright Eyes, Taking Back Sunday, Tigers Jaw, etc. I even like Morrissey because he is a total sad sack like me. My writing routine is weird. Poems never come to me when I sit down to write. I have to be out doing something mundane, and then inspiration will come. I take notes in my phone or on a piece of loose paper, then I’ll start typing once I have some time to be alone with my MacBook. 90% of the time, I know how a poem will end before I start writing it. My reading routine is pretty random, but I always know what I’m going to read before I show up to events. No one wants to sit there and watch a poet awkwardly shuffle pages for 10 minutes.
cocktailmolly
I don’t think it’s lame to claim one’s friends as favorite poets to read. Honestly i think it is the highest of compliments in this day and age since everyone seems to be so consumed with being like the old famous poets. People tend to forget there are emerging talented poets out there.
Brandon Diehl
I agree!
EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL
AND EVERYTHING HURT

I was drunk on St. Ides
and mildly stoned
from cheap marijuana.

Danielle was passed out on the floor
with Andrew. Lana was vomiting
in the bathroom. And Lauren,
the anorexic rich girl
I barely knew –– the one with

name-brand clothes
and a Porsche parked outside ––

was kneeling next to me
on my bed where I was lying.

Lauren kept on poking my shoulder
and asking me what happened
to my last girlfriend ––
asking me how “someone so nice
could ever get dumped
out of the blue like I did.”

“It’s a mystery” was all I could say.

She leaned in closer.

“You’re very
underappreciated,” she said.

I motioned to her necklace, which was
made of gold-and-silver dandelions
and hung down by her tiny breasts.

“Like a…dandelion,” I said,
frowning at my own cheesy comment.

“You need someone
who really adores you,” she said.

“Yeah, maybe.”

She leaned in closer.

I looked at her thousand-dollar earrings,
her no-blemish skin, her toothpaste-ad teeth.

I looked at the gold
of her dandelion necklace.

I tried to dissociate by looking
around my room at the washed-out paint
on my walls, the holes in my jeans,
he hand-me-down furniture,
the nicotine-stained rug, 
the dollar-store notebooks.

Self-consciousness welled up
in my brain like an aneurysm.

“Do you miss your ex?” asked Lana.

Her lips were about 2 inches from mine.

She placed her hand
on my inner thigh,
but my penis was limp ––
a goldfish playing dead.

“Don’t,” I said.

“Come on. It’ll be fun.”

My eyes grew puffy with shame.
My lips withered like salted slugs
or flower petals. Vomit bubbled
at the back of my throat
like high-grade champagne
I’d never be able to afford.

“Don’t,” I said again.

She reached for my belt.
She tried to kiss me,
but her dandelion necklace
got in the way, blocking her.

She backed up and started fumbling
with the back of the necklace.
Suddenly, the necklace snapped.

“Damn,” she said. “Oh, well. I don’t
think it’s real gold anyway.”

As she tossed it into the wastebasket,
I started to weep.

cocktailmolly
So what is it about Brandon Diehl the poet that you think people should know about you but do not know already?
Brandon Diehl
I think people should know that I’m not a total misanthrope. I often use a pretty cynical voice in my work, and it may cause certain people to think I despise everyone and everything. The truth is that there are so many people I love in the world, but I usually write about the people I don’t love because It’s a way to for me to relieve stress when I think about the bad stuff people do. I don’t think I’m better than anyone, though. To put it simply…I just take it really personally when someone does something awful to me. I’m sensitive, haha.
cocktailmolly
Okay which leads me into this question for you. How does humor play a part in your work? Have you ever written something that was funny or do you prefer to work with serious emotional pieces?
Brandon Diehl
Humor is extremely important to me. I rarely write a piece that is 100% serious. I always want to sneak in at least one or two silly lines. Some of my poems have more humor than others. I guess I just use humor as a way to make myself (and hopefully others) laugh a little even within the darkest subjects. Sometimes without humor, there is only hopelessness. Most of the time, pure hopelessness seems a little boring…unless you’re Sylvia Plath or something. That’s just my opinion.
cocktailmolly
I agree with you. Who wants to be around a morose person all the time? A little comedy is always good. Okay. Lastly, I want to ask you this questions: what is next for B. Diehl, professionally & personally?
Brandon Diehl
Professionally…more books! I want to get books published for the rest of my life. Like I said, hopefully one next year. But before that, I’d say more readings are next. I’m currently taking a little break from them, but I want to do a lot of them in 2017. I’m also working on a way to “give back” to the poetry scene that has supported me so much over the past few years. I have some ideas, and they’ll be revealed in a few months. 2017 will be memorable. That’s all I can say at the moment. Personally…I’d say a new day job is next because I’m bored of being broke all the time. I know it’ll suck…but it will give me some new writing material.

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