Hell is a world
full of mirrors.
And lost among them,
I am trying to find a face
But every surface stands silent.
Every glass —
Goading my fear.
I recognize nothing.
But the faintest hiss.
Squeezing my eyes.
Till they weep.
TSTmpj: Every word in your poem has portent, weight. Have you always written in this, for want of a better word, stark vein?
A.J. Huffman: Yes, I have. I tend to write when I am very emotional. By proxy, that emotion tends to infuse itself into every piece.
TSTmpj: Who are some of the writers you admire, and what lessons do you consider you have learnt from them over your writing career?
A.J. Huffman: I have been told this is blasphemous for a woman to say, but my favorite writer is Charles Bukowski. I love his raw attitude. Obviously, as an emotional and somewhat confessional writer, I have also been influenced by Plath and Sexton. And, of course, I cannot forget my dear friend and fellow poet, April Salzano, who has taught me more about the importance of precision line breaks than I ever thought I would need to know.
TSTmpj: How much of yourself do you portray in your work? If you could have a reader taking one thing away from the featured poem, what would it be?
A.J. Huffman: I think it would be fair to say that there is an element of myself in every piece I write -- no matter what the genre. Obviously, poetry being a more personal medium, more of my emotion, and thusly more of myself, tends to find its way into the pieces. So, yeah, I'm there looking back out at you from the page. Definitely.
I think the best thing a reader could take away from "In the Vortex of Self Destruction" is that all emotions -- even the negative ones -- have validity and beauty. They are nothing to be ashamed of. We all have them . . . even if we don't like to admit it.
A.J. Huffman, a poet in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has published six collections of poetry and is working on the seventh.