I spoke with featured poet, Steve Nolan, about his poetry writing process and inspirations. Here’s what he shared.
LF: Do you remember writing your first poem? SN: I remember writing my first poem on the side of a styrofoam coffee cup while driving my car late at night. I was inspired by exposure to a wonderful new poet and her words, her style, were rattling around somewhere inside my head. I think it was a case of osmosis. It turned out to be the second poem I ever published.
LF: You served in the U.S. military in Afghanistan and are now retired. How has your military experience informed your civilian life and, by extension, your poetry? SN: Afghanistan has informed my life and my poetry in so many ways! It creeps into my writing constantly with major themes: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing; man's inhumanity to man; the negative power of religion to sway people to do atrocious things, as well as the positive power of spirituality to move people in the direction of kindness, love, etc.
LF: Could you describe your creative process for writing poetry? SN: My creative process goes like this: I get up at 5 am every morning. Many times I have had a dream which lingers and becomes the start of a poem. More often than not it is the news of the day (that I get from newspapers and radio as I have my first cup of coffee in the morning) that triggers my muse and impels me to put pen to paper.
LF: Why is poetry important to us? SN: Poetry, and the arts in general, are important because they seem to be informative, educational to greater truths, bigger issues than the mundane stressors of life. Keats said that beauty is truth, truth beauty. It seems to me that all art, whether poetry, painting, sculpture, music, etc., exposes the audience to beauty that frequently becomes the vehicle to the truth. There are so many falsehoods in life that people are hungry for truth.
LF: What insights do you hope readers gain from reading your poetry? SN: I have had one major theme in my life, since I was about 12 years old, that my writing is constantly trying to address, and that is the truth that we are all connected, all God's children to use religious language. We are all in the in-group to borrow Joseph Campbell's expression. There is not out-group! There is only parochial indoctrination that we are different, separated, inferior or superior based on religion, race, nationality or gender. The task at hand is to overcome our limitations to achieve our higher selves, our evolutionary potential verbalized by the great teachers of humanity who come to us as examples of what is possible. I think that great art reminds us, informs us of our common roots and our great potential.