I spoke with poet Bill Wunder about his poetic influences and writing process. Here’s what he shared.
LF: Do you remember writing your first poem? What was it about? BW: I’m a Vietnam veteran and my experiences in the war, plus losing my best friend there, have had a profound and lasting influence on me. It’s similar to the moon pulling at the tides. The first poem I ever wrote was a response to the war when I got home. And it was terrible as poems go. I never wrote another poem for twenty-five years. But that first attempt at poetry eventually evolved into my first book.
LF:Who are some of your favorite poetic influences? BW: Mark Doty for his imagery, Robert Frost whose mastery of rhyme makes it ok to like rhyme, and Chris Bursk for his keen insights, and unending generosity. One of my favorite quotes is that poetry requires the courage to open oneself up to possibilities.
LF: Could you describe your creative process for writing poetry? BW: I have no established process. A poem is sparked by a line in a song, an image or a bumper sticker. From there the poem and I are on our own. Frequently, I let the poem go where it wants to. It always knows best.
LF: At what point do you decide to stop revising your work? BW: I don’t think a poem is ever done. We merely grow tired or bored with it. After a time, we are off to chase the allure of something new into the light.
LF: What are you working on now? BW: A manuscript that honors my father who passed away two years ago. Not quite his book, not quite mine. Somewhere in between alchemy and iron-smithing that every worthwhile relationship goes through, a sort of trial by fire.
LF: Why is poetry important in the world? BW: Well, I cannot answer for the world, just me. Poetry helps me stay connected to my humanity. LF: What do you hope readers take away from your poems? BW: Ultimately, you hope what you write helps them navigate their way through any difficulty they are wrestling with. At the least, you hope they don’t throw rotten fruit at you when you read your work.