Thomas Stemmer: An Interview by Serena Agusto-Cox

October 13, 2009

Thomas Stemmer, Poet published in 32 Poems magazine

Thomas Stemmer, Poet published in 32 Poems magazine

1. How would you introduce yourself to a crowded room eager to hang on your every word? Are you just a poet, what else should people know about you?

I cannot imagine a crowd eagerly listening to poetry. However, in 2008, when I was invited to a conference in Pakistan, I took part in a Mushaira (a traditional poetry reading), and indeed, everybody was very eager to listen. Even a peasant there knows verses of – let’s say – Rumi or local poets for example. This is incredible. But, I am just a poet, yes, a romantic in a way.

2. Do you see spoken word, performance, or written poetry as more powerful or powerful in different ways and why? Also, do you believe that writing can be an equalizer to help humanity become more tolerant or collaborative? Why or why not?

Frankly, I do not know.

3. Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?

Yes: My mechanic typewriter. I JUST LOVE IT!

4. Most writers will read inspirational/how-to manuals, take workshops, or belong to writing groups. Did you subscribe to any of these aids and if so which did you find most helpful? Please feel free to name any “writing” books you enjoyed most (i.e. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott).

I have to admit that I am a very solitary poet. I do not know, if this is good or bad.

5. Poetry is often considered elitist or inaccessible by mainstream readers. Do poets have an obligation to dispel that myth and how do you think it could be accomplished?

Poetry is not elitist. If you WANT to read poetry, you can. Everybody is responsible for himself. The accusation of elitism is just an excuse to cover up a certain – maybe unconscious – unwillingness, I suppose.

6. When writing poetry, prose, essays, and other works do you listen to music, do you have a particular playlist for each genre you work in or does the playlist stay the same? What are the top 5 songs on that playlist? If you don’t listen to music while writing, do you have any other routines or habits?

No, I do not listen to music while writing. I enjoy SILENCE very much!

7. In terms of friendships, have your friendships changed since you began focusing on writing? Are there more writers among your friends or have your relationships remained the same?

I feel, there is more depth and goodwill in relationships now.

8. How do you stay fit and healthy as a writer?

The daily spiritual exercises of my religion help me a lot. I am an Eckist (Eckankar).

9. Do you have any favorite foods or foods that you find keep you inspired? What are the ways in which you pump yourself up to keep writing and overcome writer’s block?

Foods? No. But in order to overcome a writer’s block, I use to draw, to make collages on paper or to do more of my scientific work as a orientalist. On of these doors is always open. In case of poetic emergency: hours of daydreaming! That helps ALWAYS.

10. Please describe your writing space and how it would differ from your ideal writing space.

I would love to write in a castle or in a medieval ruin or in any of these places of the early 19th century (little houses constructed for poetry readings by some crazy lovers of literature during the romantic period of history.)

11. What current projects are you working on and would you like to share some details with the readers?

A Trilogy of an unredeemed romantic in the German language (“Trilogie eines unbekehrten Romantikers”).

Nothing New Under the Sun

The small village

Was just boring,

Built for tourism only,

Just void.

Only one man was


David the Bookman.

As his name indicates,

He is selling books.

A nice guy. Old man, old books.

I liked him.

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