Interview with a Poet Series · Writing

Interview with a Poet: mark Stratton

mark Stratton is an American poet and writer living in Columbia, MO with his wife and three cats.  His poems have appeared in The River Paper, The American Zig-Zag Volume One (and forthcoming in Volume Two), MediaVirus Magazine and Four and Twenty.
Poet mark Stratton

My first question for mark was one that I didn’t even think of asking (because I hadn’t noticed) until I reread his first collection Tender Mercies. What’s with the lowercase m in his given name, ‘mark,’ and Uppercase S in his family name?

“I firmly believe that the Work is far more important than I am.  However, I do not wish to show any disrespect to my family as they are quite important.  Not only to me, but in their own right and accomplishments.  So, I honor them and leave my given name lower case.”

mark began his writing journey as a self-proclaimed “angsty” teenager, but argues that back then, he “had nothing to say that hadn’t been said before.” He got more serious about writing in 2008, and continues to write today because it has become habitual and “more importantly,” explains mark, “it’s become needful for me to do so.”

James Brush, author of the blog ‘Coyote Mercury,’ wrote about mark Stratton’s writing style in his recent review of  Tender Mercies:

I don’t always get what mark’s getting at, but the ride, the language, is a pleasure, and sometimes a line or two finds a place in my mind, takes root and won’t leave me alone. So the book goes back in the bag and I carry it around some more, sometimes forgetting it’s there only to be happily surprised again.

The most challenging part of writing Tender Mercies for mark was trusting the poems, trusting “when they were telling me they were connected as I was making them,” he explains.  The greatest reward, now that the book has been out a while, has been “learning that the poems have resonated with readers.”

He enjoys being a part of online writing communities on Twitter and Facebook, but it puzzles him at times.  “The very fact that people from all over the world have read my little scribbles fascinates me and humbles me at the same time,” he says.

Tender Mercies by mark Stratton

mark’s most recent chapbook Postmarks is, as he says, “a total DIY job, handmade and assembled by me.” mark even took the cover photo.

One of the poems, ‘Frank,’ takes on the persona of a dead speaker:  I’ll see them when/they get here, They’ll hate it too./And we’ll laugh. /Like being dead isn’t such a big deal after all.

A sign of the times, perhaps, is that ‘Frank’ was sparked by a discussion on Twitter. “The “trigger” for this was a discussion on Persona Poems on the Twitter #poetparty,” says mark. “The story in the poem is true, except for the parts I made up.  It was an exercise in writing outside of my own voice, and I was fairly pleased with the result.”

It doesn’t surprise mark that poetry survives, and in some places, thrives, today. “Poetry, in some for or another, will thrive and survive because it was in our souls, bone deep, to express ourselves.  The form and patterns may change, but poetry will survive as long as human kind does. Poetry truly is a way to express in words that which cannot be said any other way.”

You can follow mark (lowercase m) 🙂 on Twitter and Facebook, and please take a moment to check out his books Tender Mercies and Postmarks ~ support the art of poetry; support an indie author!

3 thoughts on “Interview with a Poet: mark Stratton

  1. I JUST received my copy of Postmarks. Mark (and I do feel you worthy of the capital M) the book is beautiful! I adore the presentation, and am the process of absorbing your words. It made my day, and for that, I will always be grateful. You have a voice all your own…don’t you dare let that pen stall! Thanks Heather, for sharing the work and the words of one of my favorites!

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    1. Oooh if another Canuck got hers, mine cannot be far behind! I ordered it a couple weeks ago I think. Can’t wait to
      see it. I love chapbooks. Love the personal, artistic nature of it. You’re very welcome, Natasha. Hope you are
      preparing yourself for your IWP soon!

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