Poetry Santa Cruz
Poetry Santa Cruz

Something More Pleasant and Admirable
An Interview with Poet and Short Story Writer Jim Heynen by Dennis Morton

Dennis Morton:  Like your prose, most of your poems are spare, direct, and often funny.  How long did it take you to discover that 'less is more'?

Jim Heynen:  My first love in literature as a college student was Milton; my second love was Chaucer. I went with my second love.  And, I might add, given the fact that the comic does chuckle through some of my short-shorts and poems, even we sit-down comedians learn that if you want to be funny, you'd better be quick.

DM:  Give aspiring writers your ABC's - 3 pieces of advice.

JH:  If you want criticism, ask for criticism; if you want praise, ask for praise.

If you're a balanced, nice person, don't write from your own point of view; if you're an off-kilter and not terribly pleasant person, write everything you can from your own point of view.

Always write the poem or story that doesn't seem very important to you. Modest intentions often result in grand results, while grand intentions result in grand pretense (or, at best, in blank sheets of paper).

DM:  Give us the names of 5 or 6 contemporary poets who deserve a wider audience.

JH:  Joyce Sutphen, Robert Hedin, David Lee, Leslie Miller, Janet Holmes, John Minczeski.

DM:  How do you deal with "writer's block"?

JH:  I pretend that I'm a really good shrink and interview myself, usually starting with the simple question, "Why aren't you writing?"  The shrink keeps pushing me. Sometimes it takes a while as I swerve and dodge away from her questions.  The eventual, honest answer is always the same: fear of failure.  Once I make that admission, I find that I can write.

DM:  Why do you write?

JH:  To delight people I admire and to irritate people I dislike.  And often I do it to see if I can make something outside myself that is more pleasant and admirable than what I find inside myself.

Jim Heynen and Roz Spafford will read at Louden Nelson Community Center, January 15, 2002, at 7:30 p.m.

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