INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
INTERVIEW WITH AND ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Lee Johnson
Michael Lee Johnson is presently self-employed, with a previous background in social services. He has a B.A. degree in sociology, worked on a Master’s Program in Correctional Administration, and started a pre-doctorial program and quit. He took a creative writing course in university on a pass/fail basis-he failed. He is published in United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Nigeria, India, and United Kingdom. He has been published in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Turkey, Fiji, Nigeria, Algeria, Africa, India, United Kingdom, Republic of Sierra Leone, Israel, Nepal, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Finland, and Poland internet radio. Michael Lee Johnson has been published in more than 280 different publications worldwide. Audio MP3 of poems are available on request.
He is a member of Poets and Writers, Inc. and Directory of American Poets and Fictions Writers: pw.org/directory.
Most of the publishing has been accomplished in the last six to nine months.
But, the last six to nine months are somewhat deceiving, considering he had a huge box of "unfinished" poems dating back to 1967. Though many of the poems have been revised, most of the original dates are at the bottom of the poems. Plus many new poems have evolved recently. In fact, poems are getting published faster than he can revive or revise them. Yellowed papers, wrinkled napkins and all, they wait for the hand of revival. He hasn’t submitted poems until recently-since the early 70's, remember, the “old fashioned” way, via snail mail.
Six top things Mr. Johnson likes in his life:
1) His interests in the study of spirituality, religions.
2) Nikki, his beloved kitten, and best friend.
3) His fire deep in his belly for universal health care in the United States so everyone has access to care, not just the rich or extreme poor.
4) His drive to find a way to survive old age in poverty.
5) His need to leave a legacy behind for others, no matter how humble or small the contribution.
6) The support of his true friends, Carol Marcus, John Balaskas, Kristin Kelley, Cary Boudas, and Dawn Edder (who have had to read his poems and share his successes over and over again, via e-mail).
Questions and Answers by the Author Where were you born?
I was born in Brazil, Indiana in a town so small it was hardly on the map.
Where were you raised?
I was raised primarily in South Bend, Indiana and Niles, Michigan. I spent 20 years in this area before going to Canada for 10 years. Now I live in the Chicago area.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing? I was an only child and curious about everything in nature. I lived in a heavily wooded area in South Bend, Indiana where I saw a “Giant Easter Bunny” as tall as a telephone pole coming out of the woods. My pet, Connie, the beagle dog, saved me from this youthful horror. By the very nature of being an only child, it led to the detailed study of any anthill that could be found. Everything was a curiosity.
Are you married? What is your spouse’s name? When/how did you meet? Children, what are their names?
I have been divorced for many years now; I made all my major mistakes early in life. I have one daughter, Dawn Edder, in Georgia. One very dear long-term friend: Carol Marcus.
When did you first start creatively writing and why? What prompted you to become a writer?
Besides being an only child, I was caught up with the long events of the Vietnam War. The turmoil, the daily announcements of how many died today, for the week, for the month. In the agony of this time period I started to release simple thoughts with images. They came out of the smoked image of my mind.
What is your favorite book and why?
The Bible. Life comes and life goes, spirituality will be with me now and after death. This I believe.
What is your favorite poem and why?
William Carlos Williams, The Red Wheelbarrow
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
It makes life painted what it should be in a concise image of reality.
What is your favorite short story?
Who is your favorite writer and why?
Carl Sandburg. He has the imagination of a flower, the sensitivity of a word too sharp to swallow.
What is your favorite song, music, why?
“A Thousand Stars in the Sky” sung by Kathy Young. An oldie when harmony meant something, when times were simpler, and when “I love you” stuck for a while.
What are your writing goals?
This is my goal, to publish this book, “The Lost American.” This has been a goal for over forty years.
What are your dreams and goals?
To stay healthy in a country that offers no real health care. To love Jesus the best I can with my limited abilities. I desire to get my poetry out to the world before I go to sleep permanently.
What are your hobbies?
I listen to the Fifth Avenue Band, from Des Plaines, Illinois. Loving my cat Nikki, and staring at the thirty six year old willow tree outside my balcony window.
What is the writing process like for you? Do you sweat blood or do the words come easily? How many edits do you normally do before you feel your work is completed?
Often a poem will start with a picture on the wall, a catch phrase that sticks in my mind, a cat and a moth having fun. I have some poems that came out naturally with few changes; or poems that suffer from child birth and never fully mature. Being alone, being my own editor is my biggest problem so I always live the door open for changes, or revision. I’ve actually had one poem evolve over the years into three separate poems. Real journal editors are my best friends, and sometime my worst friends. Their suggestions are sometimes harsh but invaluable.
Do you have any advice you can share with other aspiring writers?
Yes, I do. Since poetry pays little, requires much, I see my personal story writing poems since 16 years of age, now 61 years old as an example of determination. As I said in my bio most of my publishing has come in within the last year-I had/have poems dating back as far as 1967. As noted, now, forty years later, by poems are getting published all over the world, and most of them came from yellowed papers, wrinkled napkins and such, they wait for the hand of revival. Never give up hope and always remember a power greater than self is driving the life vehicle home.
The Orange Room Review, Bolts of Silk (UK), Chantarelle’s Notebook, The Foliate Oak Online Literary Magazine, Poetry Cemetery, Official Site of Laura Hird, The Centrifugal Eye, Adagio Verse Quarterly, Scorched Earth Publishing, Ken*Again, Miller’s Pond, A Southern Journal, Apollo’s Lyre, Fresh! On Line Literary Magazine, Bewildering Stories, Zygote In My Coffee, Pens On Fire, Black Biro (Africa), Sage Of Consciousness, Prose Toad, Literary Ezine, Cosmopsis Quarterly (Book contributor), Mississippi Crow, New Graffiti, Poetry Super Highway, Ink Sweat & Tears, Taj Mahal Review, Hammered Out (Canada), Stellar Showcase Journal, Aboveground Testing, and many others. He has been published in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Turkey, Fiji, Nigeria, Algeria, Africa, India, United Kingdom, Republic of Sierra Leone, Israel, Nepal, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Finland, and Poland internet radio. Michael Lee Johnson has been published in nearly 300 different publications worldwide. Audio MP3 of poems are available on request.