This is the third part of my National Poetry Month interview series with Norbert Krapf. Today Norbert discusses how long he's been writing poetry and gives advice to younger poets.
In January, I celebrated my 40th anniversary of writing and publishing poetry. I was 27 at the time, newly married, recently arrived in the New York area from the University of Notre Dame, where I taught and finished my PhD. Pretty soon my poems were appearing in national magazines and I’ve not looked back since, though I struggled for 17 years before finding a publisher to bring out my first full-length collection. Publishing a series of chapbooks, small collections, was very good training, however, in how to build and put a larger collection together. I think more younger poets ought to start with chapbooks. Learn to walk before you try to fly!
By the way, not long after we met in the Notre Dame Library near the end of graduate school, the woman who became and has remained my wife was disappointed that I didn’t write poetry. That changed after I put behind me the rigors and pressures of graduate study. We celebrated our 40th anniversary last June by going to the Chicago Blues Festival! We got to meet Honeyboy Edwards, in his nineties, and he was delighted to learn the names of the towns where Katherine lived and taught in her native Louisiana. Like most Blues singers, Honeyboy has been around! Before we left Notre Dame for the East Coast in 1970, we drove to the Ann Arbor Blues Festival, where we slept in our new car, and heard many of the greats, such as Howlin’ Wolf, Son House, Fred McDowell, John Lee Hooker, Bukka White, and others. Forty years bookended by the Blues!
Norbert Krapf was Professor of English at Long Island University from 1970 to 2004. He is is author of Invisible Presence, Bloodroot, and the fortchoming poetry collection Songs in Sepia and Black and White. To learn more about Norbert's work, visit his website.