“Night of the Living Blues” from Joshua Michael Stewart was published in the Â March Issue.
1. Is it a requirement to obtain a poetic license to write a poem involving music in some shape or way?
Poetic License? I guess so, but I think of it as more of a variation of a theme. Iâ€™ve written blues poems the traditional Langston Hughes way in which the poem reads like the lyrics to an old Bessie Smith song, and Iâ€™ve written blues poems mixing that traditional form with the sonnet and pantoum. â€œNight of the Living Bluesâ€ had two things going on: 1. I wanted to write a poem that didnâ€™t use the traditional blues form, but incorporated the language and images that one would find in a blues poem. 2. I wanted to write a poem that would read like a modern day folk tale (think John Henry) where the focus is on one character, and their quirky travels through life.
2. How would George Romero turn “Night of the Living Blues” into a movie?
He would weave in the myth of Robert Johnson into the script. The tow truck driver would be the protagonist, and it would be the most moving and beautiful film about necrophilia you have ever seen.
3. What was the process you used in shaping this poem in couplet form?
I wrote the poem, counted the lines and when I couldnâ€™t divide them by four or three, I divided the lines by two. Genius, I know.
4. Is every night a good night to go on living?
For the time being. When Iâ€™m on my deathbed, blind, unable to walk, out of my mind and shitting myself I may wish to revise that line. Thatâ€™s one of the great things about poems, just like the poet, they keep breathing and evolving.
5. How has loneliness inspired you?
Itâ€™s the poetsâ€™ curse. Poetry is about communication, and if we felt that we could express all that we needed to say face to face, then there would be no use for poetry, songs, or for any kind of art. Thatâ€™s loneliness. The loneliest place in the world is a crowd. Of course, even after we revise that poem repeatedly, and we have it as close to, perfection as it could possibly be it still doesnâ€™t seems enough. So, we write another poem, hoping to capture what can’t be said.
6. What would you sell your soul for?
For a cheeseburger at Local Burger in Northampton Massachusetts (theyâ€™re that good), for Louis Armstrong to grace us with his presence once more (another George Romero movie), and for that little redhead behind the counter at the coffee shop.