Q & A with D.G. Kaye, Featuring Poet – Frank Prem

Welcome to June’s Q & A interviews. Today I’m delighted to be featuring Frank Prem who is sharing some of his writing journey and his fabulous new and unique Love Poetry Trilogy Collection. Frank has focused on an unusual form of poetry where he takes a work of a famous poem and recreates his own version from in a new poem. I’ve recently read and reviewed – Walk Away Silver Heart. You can read my review HERE. And I’m very much looking forward to reading the next in the series – A Kiss from the Worthy, which awaits me on my Kindle. Frank is generously giving us a special peek with excerpts from some of his new poems from this book on Youtube. Check it out because Frank has one of the most amazing reading voices!     About Frank: Frank Prem has been a storytelling poet for forty years. When not writing or reading his poetry to an audience, he fills his time by working as a psychiatric nurse. He has been published in magazines, e-zines and anthologies, in Australia and in a number of other countries, and has both performed and recorded his work as ‘spoken word’. Frank has published several collections of free verse poetry, including, Small Town Kid (2018), Devil In The Wind (2019), The New Asylum (2019), Walk Away Silver Heart (2020) and A Kiss for the Worthy (2020) He and his wife live in the beautiful township of Beechworth in northeast Victoria (Australia).   Frank is featuring his newly released book in his love trilogy here today – A Kiss for the Worthy. And below, Frank shares his inspiration for this series:   A Love Poetry Trilogy I recently became enthralled by an idea, which was to take three poems, written by three eminent poets of a hundred years or more ago and to take each line or phrase individually, and to use the phrase as the inspiration for my own new piece of work. This was an idea that first arose many years ago with the involvement internationally of a group of poets each responding to a line or phrase, and creating an interactive new work. The three poems were quite diverse, but each in their own way was, to my mind, a love poem.   The poems and poets were: Amy Lowell – Madonna of the Evening Flowers (1919) Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass (1855) T.S. Eliot – The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915) My personal project involved writing a poem or each in turn, rotating poems and phrases at a rate of knots, until – a little to my own surprise – I found that I’d crafted three discrete new collections of poetry: Walk Away Silver Heart (from Madonna of the Evening Flowers). A Kiss for the Worthy (from Leaves of Grass). Rescue and Redemption (from Prufrock). Walk Away Silver Heart was launched in February 2020. A Kiss for the Worthy has only recently been released (May 17 th on Amazon), while Rescue and Redemption will come out a little later in the year. Today I thought it might be most appropriate to focus on A Kiss for the Worthy, and I’ve selected an early review of the book to share, but in addition, I thought readers might appreciate listening to a few poems from the collection being read by the author, so I’ve recorded a short YouTube video, especially to accompany this interview, and not released to any other viewers, at this stage.   Check it out on YouTube!       Blurb: Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes, I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it, The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.. . . from Leaves of Grass Drawing on the phrasing of Walt Whitman’s great late 19th century poem Leaves of Grass (above) Frank Prem has produced a collection of expansive and outward looking love poetry written, as always, in the unique style that allows every reader to relate. Prem’s interpretations breathe new life into contemporary exploration of themes of love in poetry, and utilise Whitman’s original phrases to inspire a contemplation of the self in the context of landscape and the wider world: and as they open I realise they are filled with sweet perfumes golden glory wafted aroma from a house filled (with the sensual) A kiss for the worthy is the second of three collections that together comprise A Love Poetry Trilogy, with each revisiting outstanding work by stellar poets of the past to produce vibrant new collections. The first collection, walk away silver heart, draws on Amy Lowell’s deeply personal Madonna of the Evening Flowers, while the third, rescue and redemption, derives from T.S Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. This is a new kind of poetry that tells stories, draws pictures and elicits emotional responses from readers. Just as the best poetry should.   A Recent Review of A Kiss for the Worthy, posted on Goodreads by Elizabeth Gauffreau (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3329231174?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1 Australian poet Frank Prem’s a kiss for the worthy is the second book in a trilogy of love poetry inspired by the work of three well-known poems: “Madonna of the Evening Flowers” by Amy Lowell, “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman, and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot. In each book, Prem reproduces the inspiration poem and then writes a poem of his own prompted by each line of the inspiration poem. The approach makes for a very interesting call- and-response effect among the original poem in its entirety, the inspiration line, and Prem’s new poem. At the same time, each of the poems in the collection can easily stand on its own with no loss of effect. I have to applaud Prem for his decision to take on “Leaves of Grass.” It was a bold and gutsy move to try to match Whitman barbaric yawp for barbaric yawp. But Prem pulled it off—and pulled it off admirably. A kiss for the worthy is about love of self and love of life, a celebration of what it feels like to be fully alive and fully aware of the natural world. I would describe Whitman’s use of celebratory language in Leaves of Grass as extravagant, with long lines piling word upon word, whereas Prem’s use of language is very spare, with many lines comprising only one or two words. Yet the celebratory feel of the poems is the same as Whitman’s. It’s really quite remarkable. Here are a couple of examples: from a kiss (for the worthy) is that not a tune worthy of singing worthy of a kiss from zephyr passing by from not until (I die) I am alive and it is so very good this ambrosia of breathing of being . . . me may I go on and on and may I last For me, the two standout poems in the collection are “is beautiful (this year),” in response to “I loafe and invite my soul” and “soft warnings,” in response to “I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin.” “Is beautiful (this year)” is an ode to wool gathering on a beautiful spring day, just taking in all of the day’s sights, sounds, fragrances, and sensations, while your mind roams free. “Soft warnings” takes a more contemplative approach, as the speaker considers the man he was at age thirty-seven, who thought himself “so fine,” “so very fine.” He now wishes his thirty-six-year-old self had whispered soft warnings that it wouldn’t always be so. I heard Prem read this poem, and it was incredibly moving. I highly recommend a kiss for the worthy for anyone feeling low at the end of a bad day, anyone feeling the need to celebrate a particularly good day, and anyone stuck in a rut of the day-to-day. “A kiss for the worthy” is a prime example of why we need poetry.   Now that we’ve gained some great insight into Frank’s works, we’re going to learn more about Frank:       “Hello Debby, thanks for having me visit with you. Hello readers!” D.G. – Hello Frank, I’m delighted to have you over at my blog today. I know many of my readers here enjoy poetry, so I’m thrilled to introduce your work here. 🙂 Let’s get started!   Where do your book ideas grow from? Do events in your daily life inspire your writing ideas? I feel as though I am surrounded by stories. In my approach to writing, I look for little things that are usually considered worthy of attention, and I elevate them to centre stage. It doesn’t matter what they are – a fleeting idea, a discarded bunch of flowers in a bin https://wp.me/p7yTr8-1Kr , or a discarded man – singing and drunk at the back of the supermarket https://wp.me/p7yTr8-2gh . All are worthy of a moment of contemplation, and a few words on paper. I tend to obsess a little over my new ideas and pursue them. For example, a nearby flock of racing pigeons were, until recently, released to fly once or twice a day. Their flight would carry them nearer and nearer to the space above where I live, and I watch them fly. Watch the flock grow as cage after cage released new birds. Wheeling around, soaring. Adopting a new leader. Experiencing breakaways. For day after day I watched those birds, took photographs on my smart phone, and wrote poems about them. The result was ‘a book of pigeons’ a modest group of contemplative poems, which delighted me https://wp.me/p7yTr8-70a . In a more general sense, I write my life. Not necessarily detailed events, but experiences and feelings, and stories of each day. D.G. – I love that Frank. So often the mundane has an interesting story behind it.   What’s your opinion on self-publishing? Do you edit and proofread your own work solely or do you hire an editor? Self Publishing, or Indie Publishing has been the only way that I, as an unknown poet, could have possibly found my way into book. Quite simply, there is no way that a traditional publisher – large or small – would have wanted to take a chance on an unknown, free verse storyteller from rural Australia as a publishing prospect. It simply would not happen. I have reached a point where I’m very glad that this is so, because I am now able to publish my books in the way that I imagine them, and desire them to look. I can guarantee and take responsibility for ensuring each collection meets industry standards (including editing and proofreading), while reflecting me, the poet and writer. I love the strength and the freedom that comes with this level of control. Persuading readers to part with hard-won dollars to buy a book of mine is another matter and a different challenge, but being my own publisher is wonderful. D.G. – Do I ever hear you Frank. Most of us writers hate marketing ourselves. And I am with you 100% that self-publishing gives us the creative licence to write as we see our work fit without being changed to fit the bill of what somebody else wants our books to be.   What can you tell us you’ve gained from blogging as an author? For most of my years as a writer, I had no real expectations of becoming a published author. When I first attempted self-publication, before the advent of current technologies that make it so much more straightforward – it was exhilarating, but too hard to sustain. I kept writing for myself and for my wife Leanne. Collection after completed collection. Leanne determined at one point that I should start a blog on WordPress, to give myself an outlet, and a place in the public domain where I could archive my work. That became Frank Prem Poetry https://frankprem.wordpress.com/, and the folk that decided to follow my … Continue reading Q & A with D.G. Kaye, Featuring Poet – Frank Prem