National Poetry Month is April! To celebrate all the interviews will be poets from here until May. To kick off this line up I chose William L. Gent, a friend and fellow writer.
I was honored to be able to help Bill publish his first chapbook of poetry as part of a clandestine birthday surprise.
A regular attendee of the poetry open mic circuit, Bill is a vital part of our local literary scene.
Bill, your first book is A Little Left of Pretty. What made you decide to publish your collection of poetry?
A good friend Rachel Reese, because her help and encouragement and skill as an editor made it possible. And my wife who encourages me and allows me the time to be a computer recluse.
Has it been something you wanted to do for a long time?
The story I heard from my mother is, I would be caught writing poems on my diapers and doodling in my pablum. Yes it has been a long time desire. Other kids wanted toys for Christmas, I was happy with a Number 2 yellow lead pencil and a book.
Your work is often humorous. How important is humor towards happiness?
The Bibles says in the book of Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” I believe that humor is the music that happiness dances to.
You’ve published your book to benefit a good cause. Can you tell me more about it?
Yes. It’s The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, founded by Rabi Yechiel Eckstein. It’s a program that is helping Jews from the former Soviet Union, India, Ethiopia, and elswhere resettle in Israel, as well as funding programs that fight poverty in Israel and help impoverished elderly Jews and orphans in the former Soviet Union.
Will you publish another collection of poetry?
Yes, hopefully. The title is, Poetry in the Raw, From My Coffee Stained Brain.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
I will be doing a few local open mic night’s at the Crestview Public Library, Stone Soup at LJ Schooners in Blue Water Bay hosted by a very gifted local poet Esther L. Hurwitz and the Casbah Coffee Company, a family-owned local coffee roaster & coffeehouse located in Crestview that also serves fresh baked goods, sandwiches and soups.
What advice would you give to new and aspiring authors?
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
— Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Then remember every story has a beginning, and mine began at age ten. My mother brought me to 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh PA. There she introduced me to the librarian. Taking me by the hand she said, “So young man, you like books,” followed by some serious questions.
“What would you like to be? Who would you like to know? Would you like to visit the past, see into the future, or perhaps fly on the wings of a dragon? Would you like to see the invisible man or travel into outer space? Could you live on another planet? Doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs all live here in Mr. Carnegie’s Library. All the books you see on these shelves hold the keys to all you can be or ever imagine. They have the answer to some of life’s deepest mysteries.
My advice for any aspiring writer is simple: read, read,and read. I believe as long as there are books and dedicated librarians, no man woman or child can be held captive, or be a slave to ignorance. Reading will unlock what I promise you will be a never ending journey.