Sunday, May 26, 2024

Q&A with P.M. Flynn




P.M. Flynn is the author of the new poetry collection Shadows on Moss. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, and he lives in North Carolina.


Q: Over how long a period did you write the poems in your new collection?


A: I started writing poetry when I was 14 years old. Writing good, publishable poetry came together about 20 years ago. At this point in time when poems were beginning to be accepted more and more I noticed there were several Patrick Flynn poets and authors writing. I do both and chose PM Flynn to separate myself from the Patrick Flynn herd.


Most poems are recent with the exception of “A Season of Angels,” published in 2001. Whereas Transformation of the Ovary (into Fruit) was published in a newspaper supplement several years before that. So, my final answer—30 years.


Q: How was the book’s title--also the title of the first poem--chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: My idea for the book was a Dial-a-Wheel cover, like a paint color wheel, but the publisher didn’t have that capability. The publisher suggested the title which, after the cover artwork was designed, turned out to be a very beautiful presentation for my wife and me to consider.


I tried to market several poetry books with titles consisting of mostly unpublished poems over that title’s marketing period. Titles like “The Wasteland Revisited,” “On Dating Southern Belles,” and “The Ferryman’s Opera.” I ran with each of these marketing choices for a season, but they weren’t accepted for all the usual, mysterious, or invisible reasons. Several poems from those previously selected titles are included in Shadows on Moss.


The title is an image from the book title’s poem, Shadows on Moss, a poem written about a picture I viewed online of a fallen stage in an overgrown forest area. This idea was combined with moss I had seen growing on one side of a tree trunk with sunlight hitting the non-moss side of the tree, leaving the moss partially illuminated with forest’s shadows and sunlight.


I won’t interpret the metaphor, but I attended a lot of concerts as a teenager growing up in the D.C. area along with those music memories. The Shadows on Moss title is a good representation of that period of my life.


Q: How did you decide on the order in which the poems would appear in the book?


A: I have a file of published poems on my computer, separated from working poems so I won’t resubmit something after it’s already been published.


Once a poem is accepted, I mark the title with a “P-” in front of the poem’s title to mark it published. I always paste each acceptance into one document, in the order it was accepted, to be held until there’s approximately 60 pages (the exception being a list of published poems I transferred from an old computer I upgraded). 


For Shadows on Moss, after past poetry title submission rejections frustrated me, I decided to market the completed book with its 60+ pages of published poetry. I really didn’t have one title but a book where the reader could pick the title by spinning the wheel to a particular title, one at a time. I only sent out three or so queries before Shadows on Moss was accepted.


I don’t recall shuffling poems around, if that did happen. (Probably did.) So, the poems are more or less in the order of each publication date. This will likely be the process from here on out.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from this collection?


A: I hope readers will go to the links and buy a copy. Seriously, I hope readers will discover what BlazeVOX publisher Geoffrey Gatza said: Shadows on Moss “is as accomplished as it is expansive in its vision of what poetry can be…At once steely and familiar, these poems invite us to sit with the world in all its beauty and contradictions.”


Q: What are you working on now?


A: My wife and I roast organic, fair trade coffee and make sugar cookies from my grandmother’s recipe for This takes up much of my time. With writing I just finished a rare short story, “Buzz, the Greatest Fly Who Ever Lived” and several new poems, “Shadows of Night,” “The Mystery of Wind,” The Blue Texts of December,” just to name a few.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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