Saturday, August 17, 2013

Leo Briones, Poet

elcome Leo Briones from Los Angeles, California, USA.
A creator of profound imagery and explosive emotions, his poems are appreciated by eminent poets and poetry lovers around the world. Leo describes his debut book The Poet Remains as ‘Transcendental Revivalism or a poetic rebellion against the angst, cynicism, and intellectualism of much of modern poetry’. A poetic genius, I admire his rhythmic style and powerful message.

A Love Song of Earth

What if I gave to you
the silver sun that rises inside of me
and every day closed the eyes of my heart
like a meditation that flies across
the bursting galaxies of time
and when I reached that place
where lovers are no longer afraid to grab
the molten lava of endlessness
toss it back and forth among each other
and finally eye-to-eye, lips-to-lips, thigh-to-thigh
make love in the steam of earth?
And what if I sang a song to you,
a song of the soil and the simple dew of dawn,
that meant something like—
we are children no more
yet neither are we old?

© Leo Briones 2011

Do you remember the first poem you wrote?

I was around 14-15 and wrote a political poem about U.S. intervention in El Salvador. Sort of a poor man Bullet in the Blue Sky by U2.

Name a classic poet that has inspired you…

This is subject to my own interpretation, so I would have to say Rumi and Emily Dickenson. I am not sure folks would consider either Rumi or Dickenson as classical poets but I do. Rumi seems to me a poet that represents the deepest tradition of the spoken word, which is the use of words and images to express abstract ideas such as love, fear, beauty, death, eternal life, etc. And Dickinson I think in many ways ends the era of classic poets. Her mastery of images, concise form and language is superior, amazing, and perhaps there is no equal in the English language.

Do you have a favorite modern day poet?

There are many, but several stand out. Robinson Jeffers. His early poetry such as Shine Perishing Republic, Hurt Hawks, and The Eye are powerful in imagery and intent. He was a protest poet and paid the price. I think Robert Penn Warren’s A way to Love God is powerful, masterfully written and asks important questions about the human condition. I find Czeslaw Milosz’s very unique and powerful. There is a certain eastern European sensibility that I can relate to, that falls somewhere between fatalism and unbridled hope. My good friend Tina Collins really evoked a great Southern voice in her poetry. She has not written in many years but I personally really miss her poetry. Perhaps one day others will appreciate her work as much as myself. It makes me wonder how many powerful poets that are unknown.

What is your favorite type of poem?

Write from the heart. Don’t force rhymes or structure. I suppose that answers the questions, yes?

(Yes, my sentiments exactly)

Do you write poetry for yourself, or for others, or for both?

For the universe. For time.  For anyone who’s willing to read them.

Do you write a specific genre of poetry, or do you delve into all genres?

It feels a bit self-indulgent to interpret my work as such, but here I go anyway. I think I have at least three distinct styles that are mostly dictated by content and intent. Although my poems are all free verse I do have a idea that I write with a sort of modern spin on Gerard Manley Hopkins spring verse in mind. By that I mean that rhythm and sound transitions are important to me.

Where do you like to write?

When I can, wherever it is.

How do maintain thoughts and ideas?

I usually have a thought, or an image comes to me, and I try to get to my computer as soon as possible.

What are you currently writing?  

I have not published a book since 2006. That date seems like yesterday, but I am currently compiling three different books of poetry. The first to be called Postcards from the Apocalypse, and will be a compilation of mostly political/Beat poems, meditations, and a few love poems.

The second is a book I will call Beyond Blue and is a compilation of poems I wrote about my best friend Quentin Drew and deal with his battle to remain an effective community organizer as he was dying from kidney cancer.

The third is another eclectic compilation I will call The Time Traveler.

Do you think poetry has an impact on modern society?

I think modern poetry suffers from the same infirmity in which modern journalism suffers. That is finding its place in the world of multimedia communication. In some ways, this dilemma has perhaps dumbed down what people see as good poetry. However, I am hopeful that the big picture will lead us to a day that great poets are discovered by ordinary people on websites and blogs and they do not have to consider the validation of academics who mostly like poetry that sounds like theirs or has a parallel philosophical point of view.

How would you explain writing poetry to a novice?

Tell me of the eternal truths - love, suffering, sacrifice, sadness, joy - by showing us those truths through the images of your life.

Follow Leo…

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