Leland James–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

I have a recliner, laptop, and lap board by windows looking out from my cabin into the north woods of northern Michigan, fifty-foot maples on a hillside. The chair is flanked by a desk and a work table within reach. View of fire stove in winter.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

I use a standard laptop with word processing. I love split screen, to compare drafts.

What is your routine for writing?

I rise at around 6 AM. Coffee and news. My wife of 40-odd years gets up later, and we read aloud for a while. Light breakfast and to work for 4 to 6 hours. In afternoon I am in woods with chain saw or on splitter putting up winter’s wood.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

Started writing poetry when I was twelve. That’s about six decades.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

I write for people who love and appreciate poetry. Period. I care nothing for what academia thinks, and frankly I find much of what they do and produce a killing influence on poetry in the US. I publish a lot in Europe where more regular people read poetry.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

I write because I love it and I have to. It is part and parcel of who I am. As to block. I have a system like the minors for baseball. When I have a poem that is promising but doesn’t make the grade for publication, I send it down to the minors—a file system. At times when I’m not obsessed with an idea, I bring a player up and see if I can bring it along to the majors.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I am pretty much a home body. I read, play with our new puppy…. I do travel, maybe monthly, to do readings at libraries or to attend a reading for a poetry contest I’ve judged. I thoroughly enjoy interacting with readers.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

I really can’t say. It’s all one for me. But I do hate, in longer works, formatting.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Don’t take advice.

Check out Leland’s work in Volume 3, Issue 2.

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