Interview with Poet Robert Zimmermann and Review of “From Where I Stand”

5 Dec

From Where I Stand BannerI’m proud to be a stop on this guy’s blog tour, don’t you know!!! Robert Zimmermann has just released his first collection of contemporary poetry entitled “From Where I Stand”, and has been wonderful enough to give me some time for an interview!!! Already this work is being given high praise, and I am glad to say that I can add mine to the ever-growing list. But…the review comes at the end. Take a peek at the fabulous cover and click to go get your copy. WAIT!!! NOT YET!!! Interview and review first….purchasing comes later.

From Where I Stand Cover

And so…..The Inquisition!

What was your favorite poem in “From Where I Stand”?

All of them and none of them. I’d try to pick a favorite, but I think it’d change each time I look at them. Moist is a fun one because it takes a step back from the seriousness of the collection and gives a good laugh (I hope). Your Blue Suit, that one was very hard for me to write but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The same can be said for many more.

What was the hardest poem to write? Why?

I can’t choose one poem as the “hardest” one to write. I can take this question two different ways, really. Emotionally, most of this collection was very hard to write. I opened up parts of myself that were almost foreign, even to me. Dealing with the subject matter and revealing that occurred through writing the poems was one of the hardest things I’ve done.

Also, even when the poems weren’t hard to write for their emotional aspects there were poems that just didn’t feel right mechanically. Two of the more difficult ones in this respect were “Living With A Koopa” and “Our Tuesday Nights.” Both of these started as very different poems, and even had different titles, about two years ago when I started them. It wasn’t until I finished a majority of the book that I revisited them to either toss them from consideration or rework them to fit my needs more. They made it in, but it was hard work to get them to behave.

What do you wish was different about the collection?

That is was finished months ago? Haha, I don’t really think I’d change anything about it. I put hours and hours of hard work into this from the moment I started writing most of these back in college until the day I released the collection (and will keep perfecting if I see it needs fixing). This is in a way, a culmination of my life up until this point. It’s a way to prove that my college education means something more than the piece of paper hanging on my wall.

If I were to produce anything less than my best, I wouldn’t have published it. I don’t want anything to have been different with it. 🙂

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?

Yet another one asking this dreaded question 😛 At the moment my favs? Treason by S.M. Boyce. This one just blew me away. Lichgates, her first book of The Grimoire trilogy was epically amazing, but Treason somehow surpassed it on my “list.” I’d list her as one of my favorite authors, as well.

Another great author, who keeps delivering great books, is Tiffany King. I started reading her back in the summer with her book Wishing For Someday Soon. It’s the first book to almost make me cry. I was just that emotionally involved in the story and characters. With each book after that, and her newest one that I’m reading (at the time of this interview), I’ve enjoyed her writing more and more.

I could honestly list more and more, but I’m keeping it short at two authors/their books.

What sparked the idea for this collection?

The basis of this collection was started because in my senior year of college I had basically a senior seminar type class in which we were to produce a manuscript in our chosen area of writing and organize a reading with other members of the class. If I didn’t work on it, I’d fail the last class for my degree…and that’d have sucked. So I write around 20 pages of poetry and was pleased. But I didn’t feel like I accomplished as much as I could. It wasn’t until I discovered the Indie writing scene that I knew what I was going to do. Once I realized I wouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get it published, I knew I could finish my collection the way it should have been done in the first place.

What you see today, is the product of having no pressure, no deadlines, and free reign over every aspect of the book…I didn’t even submit to the nightmares of formatting when it threatened to ruin the structure of a few of my poems.

How personal is your writing?

Extremely personal. To make this answer short and sweet: My soul is on every page of From Where I Stand. It’s the beauty of poetry. I don’t need to keep myself out of it to any degree. If you want to know more about who I am and what made me who I am….read my book (shameless plug).

What is your writing routine?

I should probably have one shouldn’t I? I might have gotten the book out to people months ago if I were stricter about things.

For the most part I sit down to write whenever I feel like I need to. It could be as little as once a week really. I lucked out because I had most of this collection written for a while. It was tough to force myself to sit down with the poems to edit them, and for some even do an almost complete rewrite. Reliving them was both painful and rewarding. I think that’s why I never set a routine for myself. It didn’t want to torture myself too much, haha.

I might have to think about a better routine to get out another book though.

Will you be branching out to fiction, or will you be staying with poetry?

I’m not a fiction writer. I’m brave enough to admit this. To be honest, I never wanted to write fiction. I do have a few short stories on my blog, but they were written for a fiction workshop I had to take back in college and a few intro courses before that. It doesn’t come natural to me as much as poetry does.

I’m not going to rule fiction out, I have thought of doing some flash fiction. I think that’s as much as readers will get out of me. My attention span for writing a story is very short. With a poem I can sit down, write it, then it’s done (aside from rewrites, etc). I don’t need to sit down a second time and continue where I left off. My brain doesn’t work well that way.

How did you come up with the title?

It was, for the most part, a random thing. I knew I needed a title but I wasn’t seeking one out. I wanted to finish the collection, or at least have all of the poems complied first. Then one day I was just like, “Hmm maybe this would work. No, maybe this.” Then From Where I Stand popped out and I went with it.

To me, even though I just came up with the words first, From Where I Stand is me stating that the poems share events and aspects of my life from where I stand on things. People on the outside may have seen things differently, but that’s the beauty of having different points of view on the same thing. Also since time has passed since most of them, that has influenced where I stand on things, or how I remember things.

What project are you working on now?

My next “project” is only a possible thought right now. I think I’ll be going through all of my old poems to form a shorter collection. Not sure if I’ll try to find a common theme or just showcase my earlier work with it, yet. I want to say I’ll have it out for around Christmas, but please don’t hold me to that. I also said I wanted From Where I Stand published, preferable, back in August. We see how that worked out. I’m hoping having a smaller length goal in mind, and some experience already, that by the end of December is a good goal. We’ll see what happens.

I just want to give everyone a treat (either free or maybe $0.99) for the holidays.

Are there certain themes you like to address in your writing?

There are certain themes addressed in the book, but I don’t think it was me wanting to as much as it was the themes coming out on their own. From Where I Stand’s main focus is growing up in a home that was breaking/ is broken and the aftermath of that. Because of this, divorce, emotional conflict, and other similar themes are given the spotlight.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?

First: WRITE. If you have an idea write the book, story, or whatever it is. Don’t worry about the publishing aspect right away. After that’s done, then look into your options, self-publishing and traditional (big or small press). Research them both and see which fits for you. Worst thing that happens if that you try your hand getting a publisher to want the book and it doesn’t happen. Big deal…I mean it’d be cool, but the odds aren’t in your favor with so many authors out there. It’s not about your skill. KEEP WRITING, KEEP TRYING. Do your research on the best way to self-publish if it comes down to that. It’s a very intense, difficult, but very rewarding.

No matter which path you choose…remember, enjoy the experience. If you don’t enjoy it, is it really worth going through it all?

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

In all honesty: At this point I haven’t received any criticism of a negative nature. Though, I’m expecting it because it’s inevitable and I’ll welcome it with open arms. No one’s perfect and not all readers will enjoy a given work. As long as it’s constructive I think everyone has the right to an opinion…less constructive criticism is also a right, but simply annoying, haha.

The best compliments I’ve gotten were when readers have told me that a poem or poems have touched them because of a similar event in their life or because they were able to relate through the words alone, even if their life wasn’t at all the same. When I heard reactions like these, I know my goal of writing poems that are accessible to a wide audience of readers was accomplished.

If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

You, Miranda Stork, and um….the pizza guy delivering our dinner. You two are cool people, and a pizza guy has to have something good to bring to the table (aside from pizza).

In all seriousness, I don’t really have a set answer for this question. I think meeting anyone can be rewarding. It’s often through meeting new people that you can find a lifelong friendship, or inspiration for a character in a book (for fiction writers) or sparks a new idea for a poem.

Now the fun questions:

Favorite junk food?

Skittles or Mike & Ikes, they’re my go to candy, but I don’t really have a favorite junk food because I don’t really eat junk food. I only eat it if it’s in the house.

Tea or coffee?

Both. Almost equally.

Favorite superhero(ine)? Why?

Spiderman….because he’s awesome!!! I think it’s because I enjoyed the cartoon that was on TV as a kid more than the Batman or Superman ones. Though the X-men of the 90s were cool too. I liked Beast and Wolverine the best from those.

The Spiderman comic books I had were the best too. Read a lot of the “Peter Parker, Spiderman” series.

Favorite color?

Purple, the darker the better.

Favorite place you’ve visited?

I haven’t visited many places (I know, boring). But one of them was Virginia Beach and that was great because I got to surf. It was also my first real vacation, my only one really. That was back in 2007.

What’s one quirky or fun fact about you?

I’m not a fan of shirts, or clothing in general. Back in college I was know as “Shirt Guy” because once I stepped into my dorm my shirt’d come off. I also was known to throw one on JUST before walking into a building for class.

The real origin of the name came from the times my college roommate Corey Martin (look him up, he’s cool people) who’s a magician had his magic shows. I was the intermission act. Once the intermission music came on…I’d run up to the stage from my seat in the audience and start stripping….hence “Shirt Guy.” Though, “Shirtless Guy” seems to fit more.

So great to learn more about Rob – quirky and zany dude that he is. And now I want to share with you my review of “From Where I Stand”.

At first glance, “From Where I Stand” gives the impression of a solid body of contemporary poetical work. Looking closer, it is revealed to be so much more. Zimmermann’s collection of work is viscerally stunning. He combines autobiographical themes and marries them with lyrical fiction elements to create bodies of work that speak to the soul.

He opens with “Cold Morning On The Lake Shore” – a poem which, to this reader, evokes the feeling of a dawning hope on the horizon that seeps through the clouds into the very heart of you. A low turbulence that morphs into something quiet and beautiful. And that’s how I would describe the majority of themes in this collection. Dark and turbulent, yet moving through periods of clarity and beauty.

Zimmermann has put his soul in your hands, and I confess, there were moments  where I was overwhelmed. The experiences are painted in vivid colors, real and raw, so emotionally charged that at times it will grab you and refuse to let go. This collection is truly contemporary poetry at its best. I enjoyed every word and look forward to reading more of Zimmermann’s for years to come.

Five out of five stars. Period.

Rob’s Bio and Links:

Rob's Author Pic (CORRECT ONE)Bio: Robert has been writing poetry since the eleventh grade. His writing started as impulsive rambling, but soon became a passion. A few years later he attended SUNY Potsdam where he received a B.A. in Creative Writing.

His main focus is poetry, but at times you can find him dabbling in short fiction. Robert has also created the blog A Life Among The Pages, where he posts his writing as well as book reviews.

When he’s not reading or writing, Robert enjoys spending time with his dog, Deuc. Deuc ran out of the woods in August 2011 and they have been inseparable ever since.



4 Responses to “Interview with Poet Robert Zimmermann and Review of “From Where I Stand””

  1. Natasha Slight December 6, 2012 at 6:03 am #

    Great interview and review! It takes gut to put your soul in people’s hands. Congrats to you, Robert, for being able to do so. 🙂


  2. benditty December 6, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    Rob is an amazing guy and it’s always fun to learn more about him!



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