Tuesday, 6 November 2012

David James Olsen

Sonnet to Isaac

Dear laughing Isaac, listen if you please:
Don't dig your wells in New Orleans now tame.
I beg of you to curve your course with ease
And twirl out toward the sea from whence you came!
For seven years ago your sis did lick
This city's soul and break its levees large,
But screw their courage have they done to stick
And stand against your Grendel's gutt'ral charge.
A pact: like Milton, sell my sight I might
If you'd turn your blind eye at my request.
Ironic and coincidental blight:
Speed not o'er land, just ocean without rest.
Present your cruel account on waves of blue,
And leave pure hearts of people dry and true.


TSTmpj:  What is your take on the "soul" of New Orleans?

David James Olsen:  I feel the "soul" of New Orleans is the battered, but constantly cultured, jazzy and progressive spirit that energizes everyone living there. They may be downtrodden at times; they may have to ride through the rough times; but they keep moving. They keep marching to their own music and surviving their city's hardships, only to add more and more to the overall artistic quilt of America and the world. But their piece of that quilt is quite a bit bigger than most other cities that have forgotten the value of art and culture, and how it so powerfully reflects the fighting drive to survive and succeed within all of us. That, to me, is the riveting, exemplary "soul" of that colorfully vital city.


TSTmpj:  Do you usually write in formal ways?  What do you see as the future of formal verse?

David James Olsen:  I often write in formal ways because I like structure to guide me as I write a poem that can so easily spin off into chaotic confusion. I find that poems with great amounts of disorganized words tend to lose meaning when straying from a form. Perhaps that is just me. In the end, as long as one writes from the heart and in a way that is passionate and true, a poem should work just fine. I feel the future of formal verse is up to those of us brave enough to apply our modern emotions and events within its structure. Far too many people nowadays dismiss the poetic forms of the past. Frankly, I find them freeing and fantastic to experiment with while composing a new poem. I enjoy honoring what came before, but simply updating it with modern topics. Also, I love taking a form and, as long as I know all the rules well, breaking and twisting it here and there for emphasis. Shakespeare was famous for this, and wrote that way so as to guide his actors with hidden hints. I feel smart poetry readers pick up on this technique as well. But, one must know and respect all the rules of a form first.


TSTmpj:  How anchored in allusion do you usually make your poems?

David James Olsen:  I would say half to two-thirds of my poetry is anchored in, or applies hinted or obvious allusion. Again, I so enjoy reflecting on those great men and women that wrote before me, and if I can compliment their work by mixing it into mine somehow and therefore enhancing the richness and tone of my piece, it is irresistible to me. Both of my parents were English teachers as I grew up, so there has always been an inherent fascination with the great writers. Those classic and modern poets and novelists and such have surrounded me from day one, and what fabulous company to keep!

Bio Note

David James Olsen is a 29-year-old writer/actor living in NYC.

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