June 21st, 2010 17:21 EST
Chase Von Interviews the Amazing Life Saving Poet, Ed Roberts! Author of Whispers, Tears, Prayers and Hope
Chase Von: Ed, or Brother Ed, (Smile). On behalf of the Student Operated Press and myself, this is an honor. You`re also a contributor here and I`ve known you for many years now, so I`m pleased you want to do an interview and even after knowing you all this time, I`m sure there are going to be a few things I learn during this. But again, thanks for finding the time in your hectic schedule to squeeze this in.
Ed: Thank you brother; not a word I use lightly. Just to let those out there know that though we have never met in person Chase is one of those people I would not hesitate to hand my wallet or car keys over to if he said he needed them. We have been friends and much more for over 6 years now. Trust is something that has to be earned but believe me; he has done this a dozen fold.
Chase Von: We met on line many years ago now, when I was in Kuwait. They had a computer Café of sorts there and you could pay a little on a card and as it ran out, pay a little more and get more credits for computer time. Often there were long lines there just to get on a computer but it was contact with the outside world again, so we willingly waited.
But in addition to being able to email family and loved one`s I also stumbled on your web site, and it was there I read a poem called, The Man Who Left The Bar and I was stunned at how powerful it was! I emailed you or left a comment saying pretty much that and was really surprised when you responded back! Since then we`ve pretty much been in constant contact! I didn`t think then we would practically become brothers but that`s pretty much what has happened. (Smile).
Did you have any idea when first we met, we would still be in contact today?
Ed: You probably won`t be surprised by my answer Chase, but yes. As you know I hear from many people; some from far away, some from here in the US. There are times I read their words, others I feel them instead. Yours are those I felt. I`m not sure how many will be able to understand but as a poet I spend a lot of time looking past the façade others try to create around themselves and look instead into their heart and soul. It might be a gift or a curse but it is something one is born with. Trying to deny it or drown it simply would drive one mad. After several years, I simply learned to try and accept it.
Chase Von: OK, just wanted readers to know that when we thought the war was over and were shipping and flying things back is when I met you. Fortunately you and I are still in constant contact; unfortunately the war is still continuing as well and yes, expanding. I usually don`t ask tough one`s so soon or try not to, but since I did mention the war, do you see an end in sight personally regarding that? Because first it was Afghanistan, then Iraq and seems now it`s spreading over into Pakistan.
Not to mention the drums seem to be beating for Iran and there is the situation between North Korea and South Korea.
So in your opinion, are we in what George Orwell wrote about so long ago in 1984? I.e. Oceania has always been at war with East Asia. " Or do you personally see eventually, there being peace?
Ed: If you are asking if I think there ever will be an absence of war my answer is probably not. As you know I do believe however in Mystigosia " a word that has fallen out of our vocabulary. Simply put, it means the act of bringing Heaven to Earth. So many people have no problem envisioning that there can be Hell on Earth but far too few are able to grasp the concept that the other is just as easily possible. One of my goals is to bring back this word to our tongues and our hearts. We are poets; this is one of our many purposes.
Chase Von: Ok Ed and those are tough questions to ask up front, and honestly only time knows the answers but appreciate your sharing your thoughts on that and sure the readers do as well.
Switching gears, you were born and raised in Oklahoma! Over the years via you I`ve learned, (and I hope this doesn`t offend any Oklahoman natives), but is there a state you know of that has worse weather? (Smile).
Fourteen tornado`s in one day? Hail the size of soft balls? Freezing winters that stranded someone else I interviewed there for a few days, (That being World Champion Boxer Hollie Hot Stuff: Dunaway) who went there and won her fight and then couldn`t leave due to an ice storm!
And you also have some horribly hot summers from what I gather and floods! Has the weather there influenced your poetry? (Smile).
Ed: Only fourteen tornados in one day? J I pulled this from the NCDC weather site
94 TORNADO(s) were reported in Oklahoma between 05/03/1999 and 05/04/1999.
Now that was a REALLY bad day.
It is hard not to be touched by the variance in the weather here brother. I always tell people we have tough trees here, they have to stand up against anything Mother Nature throws at them. I do feel it reflects in the people as well. You look at the Murrah building bombing that happened in 1995. After the bombing, there was no looting, almost no crime at all for days. People lined up to help those in need; something that happens here every time we are faced with a challenge. Several people have asked why I haven`t moved somewhere else where I might be able to get more exposure with my writing. My answer is simple, I am from Oklahoma, born and raised. I wouldn`t trade the people here for anywhere else in the world.
Chase Von: On a serious note, I`ve been literally blown away by some of the comments you have received on your poetry. Many have brought this two time war veteran to tears as well as some of your poetry itself. How do you---And this is one of those comments, swallow that your words have this kind of an effect on someone? Knowing because someone found your words, there is an actual life that might not have had a chance to know life, had they not?
~The Silent Voice~
I told one of my friends that i was going to weigh my options. Kate sent me here to read this. There are choices i have to make, thanks to these words abortion won`t be one of them. I guess this is what friends are for and poets as well. Thank you
Ed: The words other leave touch me in a way I don`t think too many can fully understand. I never planned any of this. There was a point where I actually walked away from poetry for almost 15 years. It took me almost dying to bring me back. I hope people understand I am no one special. I really am just a regular guy who makes his living working at a call center to buy groceries. When people ask how it makes me feel to receive some of the comments that I do I simply ask them what they would feel if these were being written to them? I really am no different but I know you understand this Chase and of course, with all of the good comments there are those who would much rather see me not writing at all. At first those did worry me a bit but it fell on the acceptance thing again. I am a man of faith. I simply asked myself why would I be afraid to die? Over my lifetime I have faced death on far too many occasions. Threatening to kill someone who has faith is honestly not much of a threat if one looks at it in the perspective. It may seem odd but I look at it that I haven`t had someone threaten me in awhile. I am a little worried that maybe on one level I am simply not doing enough.
Chase Von: That`s truly as heavy as it gets brother. Tell our readers about your younger years, what life was like for you coming up in what I tend to think of as the Bad Lands after hearing about how swiftly and horribly the weather can be there. (Smile). Though I do plan to leave the land of earth quakes and seasonal fires to visit one day. (Heh, Heh). Also, when did you first get into writing and when did you really start taking poetry seriously?
Because I`ve read so many comments that are similar to the one above and you truly do have a gift the world needs to see more of!
Ed: I literally have been writing almost my entire life. When I was nine I wrote my first short story The House of Harnam. " A man finds out the hard way his new bride comes from a family of vampires and in the end learns it is never easy to become part of the family. The story was 99 pages long. Unfortunately I have almost a photographic memory. I could probably sit down and rewrite this story in a few hours.
As far as poetry goes I wrote a poem when I was a junior in high school. I told my English teacher I would like to submit it for the High School anthology. (At this time this was only reserved for seniors.) He not only had it published in the anthology but submitted it to several magazines as well. The poem In Silence " appears in my first book A Poet`s Last Stand. " I do keep praying for the day though that we will raise a generation that will not be able to understand it. Unfortunately it could have been written yesterday.
Chase Von: What are some of the web sites and other places where people can find out more about you? And also, since I published your last book, I know sales have been slow.
Poetry is a hard sell to begin with and I happen to know that also, because I too write poetry but I haven`t ever read the amount of comments on anyone else`s poetry that I`ve read on yours that literally save, and change lives! I know you`re a modest man, but how much does it hurt you to read people saying the following, knowing it deeply affected them and changed their lives, and then to think about how many lives aren`t being changed, because other people aren`t exposed to the chance to see your words?
A poem written By the Man who left the Bar
My God this is so powerful. I lost my brother five years ago in a car accident. You`d think that would have reached me, huh? Let me assure this has!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will never be that man, with a single poem you sobered me up to try and be the man my brother would have been proud of.
There was a Man
Tomorrow would have been my son Robert thirteenth birthday. He was killed by a drunk driver March 28th. The saddest part of all is that the boy driving the car that struck him was only 17 himself. I plan on getting involved with MADD to help try and keep more mothers from being in this position. My friend Betty gave me a list of your poems that she said I had to read. I know why she chose this one.
Today marks the one year anniversary of my daughter Kimberly`s death. I was what was missing in her life, a life she took on her 16th birthday. Now she is missing in mine. Your words tear my heart apart like no other I have EVER read.
You don`t know how hard I pray that I could have read them earlier. I have read several of your poems tonight. You helped me in more ways than I could ever say. Bless you and I hope these words find more dads that need them. Hopefully before it is too late for them.
I thought it would be harder
Doing 3rd year of 25 here in Calif. earned internet privileges today was surprised to see a poetry site on the list of sites GOD I wish i could`ve come here earlier Things really might have been different will read more and let a few friends here know to come here as well Dude you are a light in a whole lot of darkness
Us vs. Them
This poems burns through you like the wind to your very bones. My cousin was killed in a bombing in Amman, they were 25 years old. These men would have called me brother and you the enemy. I will never be one of them and will stand by your side. They damn themselves to hell with their actions. You are a lamp sent to us by God to shed light on their evil.
Ed: It is a double-edged sword brother. I have saved over 200 pages of comments I have been sent by people over the last eight years. For every comment I save there are usually five to ten I do not. What is hard for people to understand is I simply write the words. Once written I try to find a way for others to read them. What happens after that is out of my control. I cannot take credit for what I do not do. So many times a person`s comment starts out by saying they were sent to my site by a friend, a teachers, or a loved one. These are the ones who deserve the credit my friend. I have said all along I am simply a poet. I am not a businessman and I honestly cannot imagine myself trying to write for money. It has never and can never be like that. I do look at the sales of the book, or lack thereof, and feel that in some way I have failed in a lot of ways to accomplish what I started out to do. My goal all along has been to change the world with poetry and possibly the way the world looks at it as well.
A few years ago I started The Poetry for Life Project. It basically consisted of three small books I put together which contained some of the most powerful poems I have written. Each was aimed with a specific purpose in mind. Over a three year period I did ship copies of these to people in nine different countries but I was never able to get them established where they were used by schools here in the US, this was my original attention. I feel I have had some effect in many places of this planet but here at home there is so much more that needs to be done. At the end of June I am closing the PFL project and have built a new site to take its place. Book sales have not been sufficient enough for me to continue to file a tax report out each month and I was advised that this would be classified more as a hobby than a business. Again, I never thought of it that way to begin with.
Chase Von: Are there any projects you have in the works you, that you can give our readers a heads up about?
Ed: Though I am not operating the PFL project I do plan on continuing to write. It is how I breathe; I honestly do have no other choice.
I have a new web site in place www.edrobertspoetry.com I felt this had to be done before I closed the other one; far too many people and organizations send people to my poetry for help. I could not and would not ever make it where they can`t do this.
Over this summer I plan on working with my Godson Rayce on finally putting the poem There was a man " to video. This has been a goal of mine for some time now. I feel if we are able to do this and do it right it holds the potential to affect the lives of a lot of people. As you know, the poem itself already has.
I also haven`t ruled out doing another book but there are many arguments against this right now. I do have four books listed as e-books in the Sony E-book library and our book Whispers, Tears, Prayers, and Hope is listed on Amazon.com, as you stated earlier though sales of these have been almost non-existent. When people ask why I feel this is, I simply ask them when the last time was that they bought a poetry collection or even saw one in a bookstore. As you are aware, most bookstores refuse to carry a poetry section or if they do it usually is VERY small and hard to find. This is something I have tried to change for several years now. Unfortunately, I have not done a very good job at it.
Chase Von: Who are some of the other writers you admire, or just people in general?
Ed: There are so many people in this world I admire it would simply be impossible to even begin to try and list them here. I have read poets from Poe to Shelley, Frost to Emerson but also from George Manos to Chase von and from Bamdev Sharma to Ursula T. Gibson. Far too few people realize how many great poets we have right now in this world. Unfortunately many of these may never be discovered, at least while they are living anyway.
My heroes range from Jesus to Ghandi but also from Nelson Mandela to Father Bao. In case you are wondering Father Bao has his own poem, it is A Lesson in Faith " that appears in the latest book. There are so many people I have met I feel that need to have their story told. Poetry is how I try to accomplish this.
Chase Von: What would you say to the poets out there who are considering putting their work into print?
Ed: There are a lot of companies out there that seem to be VERY willing to help you get your writing into print, be it poetry, fiction, or almost anything else. Most of the time these companies promote several packages for their services, giving greater price levels for each.
I want people to understand there is a big difference from having something appear in print and having people actually buy a book. I feel far too many people learn this lesson the hard way. They spend hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars, believe me there is no limit to what some companies will charge, and they end up with either boxes of books they store in their garage or having total book sales of less than a dozen copies which were purchased by friends or family members at an outrageous price. ( I have seen paperback books listed on certain sites that sold for $25.00 or more and had less than 100 pages.)
Chase Von: Pretty hard dose or reality, are there any suggestions you would offer here?
Ed: There are a lot of ways to share poetry, of course few that generate revenue I`m afraid. There are several online magazines one can submit their poetry to and a few legitimate web sites as well. One does need to investigate some of these because the site itself could be sponsored by a company who will try and get money through onsite contest and offering awards " that come as long as you spend the money to receive a certificate of pay a large amount of money to attend an awards banquet. As far as agents I do not know any who represent poets at this time but there are a few legitimate publishers, including yourself, who are willing to work with poets.
I guess the most important thing I can say here is one honestly needs to examine their goal before pursuing getting their work published. As for me, it has never been about book sales or money. I have said all along I can`t write for dollars, there are some things that one can not put a price tag on. In life though, these are usually the things that mean the most. I work at a call center here in Oklahoma to buy groceries. I write poetry to try and change the world. Believe me, as you know my brother, sometimes the world does listen.
Chase Von: What would you say if you were standing before a microphone that could be heard by every child on the planet, and regardless of what language they spoke, they would understand you? What positive advice would you give the children, if that were possible?
Ed: This is simple " The biggest and most dangerous lie that you can tell yourself is that you are powerless to change the world around you. Each of us, in our own way, can change the world each day. If everyone on the planet moves a pebble just one inch that stone would travel 105,745 miles. Never look at anything as impossible but try to comprehend the possible instead. "
Chase Von: What are some of the causes you either support or feel extremely strongly about?
Ed: We need to stop killing our planet. Going somewhere else isn`t a real alternative. If we could stop looking at are differences we could finally begin to understand it is how we are the same that brings us together. The world will be a much better place when this happens.
Chase Von: I also know you`re a strong animal lover. What are your thoughts on this and what do you think the impact will finally be when if ever it runs its course?
Ed: What far too many people forget is that we ourselves are animals. When they are gone, so are we.
Chase Von: Quite frankly and sincerely, it is a huge mess, and my heart goes out to all those directly affected as well although in some way, it might very well just affect us all. Can you share one of your poems with us now?
Ed: There are honestly far too many I would love to share here. I want people to know they can always access my poetry from my poetry site if they need one or if they know someone who does. I don`t think this should ever require someone having to buy a book or should be determined by how much they can afford. I guess if I am to post a poem here it would be where it all started "
A Poet`s Last Stand
Be not so quick
To announce our death
Set aside your shovel and your spade
There will be no burial here
Not as long as these lips have words to form
Or there are tales to be spun
From these withered hands
Yes, we have been quiet
Overwhelmed by today`s clutter
You live too fast
But you have no time to hear
You cannot get culture
At your drive-through windows
Nor can we simply dish it out
For you to scan at will
Ours are words with meaning
They are to be savored for their value
They refuse to be simply devoured
Without leaving some taste behind
Please stop for just a moment
I promise to attempt to entertain you
Maybe it won`t hurt as much as you fear
You will not leave here untouched
For if I fail I will simply lie back
And let you cover my memory
To go about your life
As you began
Poetry is not dead
As long as a single soul survives
Ed Roberts 5/14/91
Chase Von: Sure if the readers really meditate on your words here, they will see why your writings have affected so many lives for the good. And now a really big question. What is one dream you personally have that you would like to see take place in your life time?
Ed: I think it goes back to people being able to go into their bookstore and finding poetry there. There are so many writers that give life to such powerful words that have no means to get them to those who need them. Poetry is not just about life, it is a part of it we all need. It honestly can accomplish far more than most can ever begin to imagine.
Chase Von: Well Ed, I want to thank you for taking the time to share yourself with our readers here. Something you also do on your own by sharing your works here on the SOP as well! One love and I`ve been spoiled over the years because I`m always one of the one`s that get`s to see what you have just created first. (Smile).
Wishing you mountains more success and the best to you and yours and I know will stay in touch so keep writing!
Ed: I just want to say Thank You for making this possible brother and I hope more people discover how talented of a writer you are. I get to read your work as well. J