Walter J. Wojtanik: Poet Interview

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The next poet in our Top 25 poet interview series from the 2013 April PAD Challenge is one of the more generous and productive poets I've encountered since starting the Poetic Asides blog. I'm speaking, of course, of Walt Wojtanik.

Walter J. Wojtanik

Walter J. Wojtanik

Walter J. Wojtanik started to hone his writing skills when he taught himself to play the family organ, composing music on his keyboard at age 13. He found his lyrics could stand on their own, but the scope of his words reaches further than being merely a poet, having penned several stage plays (all performed in his native Buffalo, NY). Currently, he's busy writing a screenplay and working concurrently to complete his first "real" poetry collection and a joint effort with Marie Elena Good. He's co-authored Poetic Bloomings: The First Year with Marie. His words have found their way onto numerous blogs and poetry workshops across the internet. He enjoys the theater, classical music, obsessing on the Beatles and Chicago, and spending time with his daughters (Melissa and Andrea) who share his appreciation of poetry. His work can be found at Through the Eyes of a Poet's Heart, I Am Santa Claus, Across the Lake Eerily, Poetic Bloomings, and (of course) here on Poetic Asides.

Here's Walt's Top 25 poem:

Sonnet for the Common Man, by Walter J. Wojtanik

Hail to you, oh common man
Simple soul who takes a stand
Your ethic is both strong and true
'Tis a better world because of you.

You toil from first morning light
And labor until the fall of night
Protect your family, render love,
Bowing head to Him above.

Taking pride in all your skills,
Showing nothing but goodwill.
Giving to the ones in need,
Teach your children this indeed.

Simple souls who take their stand
Every child, woman, and man.

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Where are you located?

I still call Buffalo, New York, my home, although have spent some time in recent months in Colorado. As a lifelong resident of Buffalo, things haven't changed a whole lot. The Bills are still bad, the Sabres are less than sharp, and I continue to pen my poetry and music.

There has been a push to revitalize the area and things are looking up. However, every Western New Yorker’s dream is to live long enough to see it come to fruition

Who are your favorite poets?

I enjoy reading the classic poets and their poems: Wordsworth, Whitman, Keats and all. My tendencies lean toward Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, Yehuda Amichai and Roger McGough.

But my favorite poets are people like Marie Elena Good (the love of my life, but don't tell Keith), Pearl Ketover, RJ Clarken (she speaks to my mind), Amy Barlow Liberatore, Iain Douglas Kemp, Laurie Kolp, Marylin Braendeholm, Sara McNulty, Barbara Young, Jane Shlensky, Nancy Posey, Sal Buttaci, S.E. Ingraham, Paula Wanken. Did I mention De Jackson? And… see the problem? I love them all.

As a reader, what do you like most in poems?

For me, a poem need not rhyme, or adhere to a specific meter. It need not be a restrictive form. A poem just has to touch me in some way. Tender or smack over the head, or erotic, or purely romantic, just touch me. A long-winded rant of brief snippet of thought, it is all poetry. But then, I will do the contrary to that in my own writing and rhyme the heck out of them. So…

What were your goals for the 2013 April PAD Challenge?

Having attained the "Grail" in 2010 being named Poet Laureate for the April PAD Challenge, my goal for this and all subsequent Challenges was to raise the bar just a smidge and holding these incredible poets' feet to the fire. I wanted my poetic friends to succeed to that level. I was happy when Joseph Harker, and De Jackson and Brian Slusher, and now Bill Preston were selected.

I await the day when Nancy, Iain and Jane make the grade. I have no allusions to being the first "two-fer" PL. I just want to improve every day. My mistake after my designation in 2010 was letting it go to my head, Mr. Big Shot Poet. Humility is a firm shake back to reality. I'm grateful for that lesson. I’m able to stop and smell the Sestinas now. It's pretty nice actually!

What's next for you?

I have a collection of my poetry ("Dead Poet… Once Removed") in the editing stages. I'd like to try and get a "real" book done the right way while I still can. And I'm beginning a new blog geared toward the lyricist in a lot of us. I'm finding that all lyricists are poets. But not all poets can be lyricists.

I'm hoping to shed some light on this genre of "poetry" to help like-minded writers along. My first poems were lyrics for music I had composed at 13. I'm turning back to "my roots."

Oh, and finding a cure for cancer. There's not much in a Creative Writing background to help in that regard, but we can all dream, can't we?

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer's Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World's Problems. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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