I met Jerry via email. He reached out for an interview and with such fun, creative, interesting, serious, and controversial poems, how could I say no?
Jerry's courageous. He started sending his poems out to his friends via email, and it turned into a career in writing. Go Jerry! You are truly an inspiration to all of us writers.
Below are the questions I asked him:
1. You’ve worked many jobs and careers. How has this helped you in your writing?
Occupationally, I have done many things, you are right. My career has been one serpentine swing through life. I have found myself to be the turtle yelling HELP to Mr. Wizard to change what I am doing.
However, the things learned from each endeavor have taught me lessons I would never have been able to learn without the actual experience. Military service taught me, but I continue to work on this one, how to succumb to authority, janitorial services taught me humility, management opportunities taught me fairness, being a reporter, which was my first career love, taught me observational skills, marketing taught me, and continues to teach me, another person’s view of the reality I find myself, teaching taught me how to convey a foreign idea to others in a comprehensible way. There have been others. Without these experiences, however, I would not be the person I am today. These lessons have been costly but were lessons not found elsewhere.
2. What gave you the courage to email friends your poems?
Poetry has always been a part of me, as much so as any appendage I call my own. I tentatively escaped my cocoon of poetic license in college but really didn’t fully escape until the early 80’s. Even then it was more of polite question of someone to look at this piece or that piece. Not until my teaching of bible classes and then later as a high school teacher did I fully accept the fact that I am a poet. The feedback was positive and constant. To know that someone liked to read my words did it for me for good. I was hooked on sharing.
3. Where does your inspiration come from?
Wherever you are when you are reading this…look around. That is where my inspiration is received. Everyday life represents the cornerstone of all inspiration. It is viewed differently by each of us as we perceive it and then translate it into our own core. Words like fairness, joy, admiration, and opportunity conjure perceptions different from words like unjust, sorrow, repugnance, and servitude. It is the same with the events we witness first hand in our everyday lives. That is where my inspiration is born.
4. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
My usual time to awake is between 4:30 and 5:00 AM. I do not know why and I wish, at times, I could change it but that is the time my mind says get up. As far as breakfast goes, look away if you are a young person and living with your folks, I seldom eat anything until around mid-afternoon. Again, I don’t know why. However, when I do eat breakfast it is a doozy with everything included that you can imagine as breakfast foods. It is my favorite meal I think. Many times this favorite meal is for dinner in the evening.
5. Describe your poems in 5 words:
“My Poems Reflect Everyday Life.”
6. What’s your blog about?
My blog, which I call Talk of the Day, is just that…topics which reflect something about the time and place I find myself that I feel compelled to express and convey to others. Not that my opinion on anything is worth more than anyone else’s opinion but that it may trigger others to think of something in another way.
My blog is featured on my website at www.jmwhitebooks.com and is sent out no more than 3 to 6 times per month but sometimes more often. However, captured in those 3 to 6 writings is between 9,000 to 12,000 hits on my website. That is gratifying to me to know that, again, others like to see what words I have written. It is very gratifying and a huge encouragement to continue to write at all.
So…if my enemies in life ever want to shut me down they can do it by simply denying me the encouragement of being read.
7. Who are you reading right now?
My current reading project is by a gentleman named Garry Wells. The book, which is a 609 page behemoth, is entitled Head and Heart American Christianities. It looks at the early Christian movement in the new world and exposes the flawed thinking that we formed our new Christianity around the idea of separation of Church and State. I have found it to be compelling and enlightening.
8. Do you belong to any writer’s associations or groups? If so, which ones,
I do maintain an affiliation and some sort of relationship with the Georgia Poetry Society and the Poetry Society of Georgia. I am not very diligent about attending the meetings due to a number of issues but I enjoy the contact and interaction with those I remain close with.
Through the Georgia Poetry Society, I am part of the Poetry in the Schools group. Several members of GPS volunteer to attend local schools and read poetry, talk about different styles of poetry, and read different examples of each. But more than anything I talk with these groups about the worth of different views being produced for society to read. We all see things differently and the views held by the majority of society are held largely due to the written reflections of life to a writer…poet or otherwise.
10. What’s the funniest thing a reader has asked you about your work?
I don’t know. I sometimes think its funny that anyone would care at all. The funniest? No clue.
11. How many times were you rejected before you were published?
That number has been purged from my memory bank.
12. Who do you write for?
My writing is my personal therapy to the issues life presents to me. I write a lot because I need lots of therapy. It is free and very revealing to me what is going on in my head at any point in time. I enjoy going through the volumes of older, unpublished, poems and just reflecting on what was going on at that moment in time. It is truly revealing. I encourage everyone to start their own diary of thoughts.
13. Why write?
If writers do not write…what then? How would ideas be generated to others? How would circumstances in life be exposed and changed? How would a free world remain free without the constant scrutinizing view of a writer?
14. Who is your biggest cheerleader?
It would be unfair to make a list of cheerleaders because I would most certainly leave someone out. However, I will mention one who did not survive the year 2011. Her name was Wynell Main. She was a published author as well and had a great eye for content and correctness. She was one that I will mention and she will be the only one.
15. What words of advice do you have for newbie writers?
16. What do you think about the publishing world today? Is it easier or harder to get published? Is it better that writers can self-publish or does it make it more difficult to find great works?
That is a great question. There are many more avenues available today than Herman Melville had at his, although, he was himself self-published at one point. As for me personally, I simply never had the money to self-publish anything. I am lucky and feel blessed in every way because of it.
17. What’s the hope you have for your writing?
My hope is that my writing helps someone else find their way through the maze of life and form ideas of their own they too can convey to others. The more the merrier you know.
18. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?
Tell others you know about it and produce your own. That would be terrific.
19. Where’s the best place to get a cup of Joe or Tea in your town?
My wife’s beautiful red kitchen... come by when you get a chance.
20. Do you prefer to write in a quiet office, surrounded by nature, or in the middle of a busy café?
I write anywhere I get an idea. I pull off the road while driving to write down an idea. I have sat on a beach and watched families enjoy the day and written. If I don’t write it down it is gone before I know it. So to answer your question I guess it is anywhere and everywhere.
21. Where and how do you promote your works?
Book signings, Facebook, email list, which is lengthy, interviews, like this one by you, self-promoting at all opportunities, like this one, and, of course, book reviews.
22. Any big news?
Ebooks! Ebooks! Ebooks! This is the wave and the bane of the printed media culture we have always known.