Allen Minor is the author of, The Borderline Between Life and Poetry; here is a link to his Amazon page:
Q: What inspired you to write “The Borderline Between Life and Poetry?”
A: As someone who struggles with mental health issues, I know what a dark and lonely place it can be. My goal with all of my works (be it my novels, or my spoken word poems, or my written poems) has always been to show people that they are not alone. Ultimately, that was my inspiration for “The Borderline Between Life and Poetry,” not to say “It will get better,” but simply to show people that when they’re at their darkest, there’s someone there to walk beside them.
Q: What is the overall theme of the book?
A: The overall theme of the book is emotional reactions. Some of the poems are more personalized, while others are generalized, but they all deal with those emotions. As someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, I tend to feel emotions very keenly, but what I’ve discovered is that regardless of the fact that they are exaggerated feelings, they are rooted in emotional cores that we all feel.
Q: What are The Combat Hippies?
A: They Combat Hippies is a group of 4 United States military veterans (2 Army and 2 Marines). We are a performance poetry group with a main show called “Conscience Under Fire,” and we travel around the state of Florida putting on that show at colleges, theaters, and other venues. We also engage the community in other places and ways, such as open mic nights and guest performances at VA’s In different areas. We hope to one day take our show national, in an effort to spread the message of what is called Post-Traumatic Growth.
Q: What kinds of themes do you like to write about?
A: I don’t know if I have any concrete themes that I enjoy writing about more than others, unless emotion can be considered such. I try to look at all situations and analyze the emotional reactions that it elicits. The topic can be interpersonal interactions, or memories, or a song, or anything, but in whatever I write about the core is always “How does that make me feel, and how can I put that in a relatable way.
Q: What makes a poem performance worthy?
A: I think anything is poem worthy. Someone once asked me what I think is so special about poetry, and I think my response applies to this as well: I think poetry is unique amongst all forms of communication because it has always–throughout all of human history–been so ubiquitous. In the past, books have been banned, certain spoken words and topics have been made taboo and shunned, even physical interactions have been restricted or adjusted, but poetry has always been around and thrived. Sure, some have tried to place strictures on poems and poets in the past, but if you notice, it never worked. And I believe that’s because poetry is a part of what we are. What is an atom, or the universe, or matter, or anything? In truth, these words that we use for them are simply metaphors, because it’s not possible for us to truly fathom the enormity of what they truly are, so we must place poetic labels on them. I believe that’s why anything is poem worthy, because, at the end of the day, everything IS poetry.
Q: What kind of a day job do you have and how does it influence your work?
A: I am actually a writer and poet by day. I know that doesn’t sound like a proper response, but I actually don’t have another day job at the moment. I was injured while in the military, and am a disabled veteran. I have been a college student since my release from the Army in 2008, but recently I took time away from my studies to focus on my writing. My goal is to be a career novelist, and I am fortunate enough to have the ability to take time away from working so I can focus on that.
Q: Who are some of your favorite poets?
A: Some of my favorite poets are Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Emily Dickenson, and Edgar Allan Poe. As someone who struggles with mental health issues, I grew up feeling very alone in the world. Each time that I got diagnosed with something new, or was put on a new medication, it made me feel more and more alone and abnormal. These poets, amongst many others, served to show me that I wasn’t, despite the fact that they are no longer physically with us. I think Sylvia Plath And Emily Dickenson were some of my favorite, because through their poetry you can see a depth of emotion that reflects something that is beyond words. They’ve often been criticized for that fact; a lot of their poetry DOESN’T have happy endings. That’s what I love about them; they express an understanding.
Q: What have you done to promote your book?
A: Self promotion has been an interesting and sometimes frustrating road. One of the most important things that I’ve done is accepting social media as a matter of course. I’ve set up author pages on all major social media platforms, including youtube, because I’ve been forced to accept that it’s not simply an aspect of life anymore, but rather it’s a way of life for a lot of people. I’ve also reached out to many blogs, because one of the biggest things that I’ve realized in my marketing research is that blogging runs the world now. It isn’t put like that publicly, but if you really look at it, it’s impossible to deny. From the movies we watch, to the books we read, to the types of clothing trends, blogs control the way the world views these things. So I’ve reached out to many blogs, not only to display myself and my books, but, more importantly, to REVIEW them.
Q: How long has your book been on the Amazon Bestsellers list and how did it get there?
A: My new book, “The Borderline Between Life and Poetry,” is currently the #1 Bestseller on the Hispanic-American Poetry List, and was on the Top 100 Bestsellers List for Poetry for about a week. Poetry is a niche market, so there’s very little gray area when it comes to lists like that; either it’s sold quite a bit, or literally not at all. I was fortunate that The Combat Hippies already has a bit of a following, so I attribute much of my rating in regards to this book to that.
Q: Of all the pre-beat American poets, who do you think would have been able to succeed in a competitive poetry reading and what poem should they read in the competition?
A: I think, of all the great pre beat American poets, Edgar Allan Poe would have been the most successful competitive poet, hands-down. I don’t say that because I think he was THE BEST poet (though his genius cannot be denied), but rather because his subject-matter, and the way that he expressed it, was very engaging. Perhaps not all of his poems, but I think “The Raven” and “Annabelle Lee” were so well-written and captivating that they would have captured the attention (and votes) of everyone in the room. Also, “The Pit and the Pendulum” would’ve kept the audience on the edge of their seats, especially with a good delivery, which I have no doubt he could’ve given.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.