Darren C. Demaree is the author of “As We Refer to Our Bodies” (8th House, 2013), “Temporary Champions” (Main Street Rag, 2014), “The Pony Governor” (2015, After the Pause Press) and “Not For Art Nor Prayer” (8th House, 2015). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.
Geosi Gyasi: What inspired your book, “As We Refer to Our Bodies”?
Darren Demaree: That collection was a bit of a potpourri. It has four sections in it. Two longer sequences “Ohios” and “Black & White Pictures”, plus some older poems and some “Emily As” poems. Like a lot of first collections, it was just a best of my work thus far.
Geosi Gyasi: Did you face any great challenge in writing, “As We Refer to Our Bodies”?
Darren Demaree: The challenge was to stick it out and find it a home.
Geosi Gyasi: What sort of relationship do you have with “8th House”?
Darren Demaree: I have good relationship with 8th House. They’re very enthusiastic about poetry, and they do good work in terms of the mechanics of publishing. They published my first book (AWRTOB) and they’re publishing my fourth (Not For Art Nor Prayer). I hope to work with them for a long time.
Geosi Gyasi: Could you give me a brief synopsis of “Temporary Champions”?
Darren Demaree: It’s a collection of poetry about the 1982 title fight between Ray Mancini and Duk Koo Kim, which ultimately resulted in the death of Kim.
Geosi Gyasi: How did you come to write, “The Pony Governor”?
Darren Demaree: The writing of “The Pony Governor” took two and a half months. I revisited it several times in the editing process after that. First to work on the individual poems, and then to tie the remaining poems together a little bit better in terms of the functionality of the book.
Geosi Gyasi: How did you hear about “After the Pause Press”?
Darren Demaree: I submitted to the journal, and some poems accepted there. Shortly after that I received an email from Michael (Prihoda) that he was starting a press under the same name. I sent in the book and Michael accepted it. He’s been great thus far. I have no doubt that he will turn After the Pause into a great success.
Geosi Gyasi: If you were to convince any reader to read your book, “Not For Art Nor Prayer”, what would you say?
Darren Demaree: I’m really proud of those poems. I always assume that if I’m excited about the work, other poetry lovers/readers will be as well.
Geosi Gyasi: Could you define your voice as a writer?
Darren Demaree: In what is the first real success of any poet, I consider it to be my own.
Geosi Gyasi: Is it true that it is easy to write poems?
Darren Demaree: It’s easier if you have a plan, if you have a repeatable writing process, and you are generally ecstatic in the undertaking. It’s not an easy thing to do in general, but you can train yourself to make it a lot less daunting of an act.
Geosi Gyasi: Does your family approve of your writing?
Darren Demaree: They do.
Geosi Gyasi: What has been your greatest challenge as a writer?
Darren Demaree: Finding the practice and gravitas to write as much as I do.
Geosi Gyasi: What sort of preparation goes into the writing of a poem?
Darren Demaree: It depends on if it’s part of a longer sequence or a stand alone poem. Normally, if I have a cup of coffee and a piece of pie, that is enough preparation.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you have a specific place where you sit down to write?
Darren Demaree: I write at my desk in my house. I’ll take notes and do research other places, but all of the writing happens at home.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you read reviews of your own works?
Darren Demaree: I do. It’s always interesting to see how the work is processed through a filter other than my own. They always feel like the beginning of a conversation, and any conversation about poetry is a good thing.
Geosi Gyasi: Who are your literary forebears?
Darren Demaree: Charles Simic, Robert Creeley, Wanda Coleman, and Anne Sexton from my studies. In terms of contemporaries, I love Richard Siken’s work, as well as Mark Yakich’s. I just finished reading Maggie Smith’s “The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison”, and that was pretty incredible.
Geosi Gyasi: What do you regard as the best part of writing?
Darren Demaree: I think, even in short poems, I’m able to find real energy to move the readers through them. The difficult thing is to find some music and structure to that energy that can magnify it.
Geosi Gyasi: What books are often found on your writing table?
Darren Demaree: Right now it’s Maggie’s book. I’m going to read it again. She’s another Columbus, Ohio poet, and I owe her a second and a third read.
Geosi Gyasi: Are you working on any new project?
Darren Demaree: I’m on vacation right now, but shortly before I left I just finished a very long sequence (342 poems) called “Nude Male With Echo”.
Geosi Gyasi: Have you ever been rejected for your works?
Darren Demaree: Many, many times.
Geosi Gyasi: What do you often do in your spare time when not writing?
Darren Demaree: I take care of my kids during the day, and I teach college english classes at night. There isn’t much free time, but I’m huge Cleveland Baseball fan so I watch their games as often as possible.
Geosi Gyasi: How would you like to be remembered as a writer?
Darren Demaree: I’m far too young and too busy to think about any sort of legacy, but if I’m remembered at all that would be pretty fantastic.