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Dear Site Visitors,

The February featured poet is Richard J. Amoroso, a retired federal civil service worker from New York. I am grateful that he agreed to be interviewed for poetheart.com. Here in this interview, he gives us some insight into who he is and tells us about his poetry. By his choice, his featured poem is "For the Keeper of the Flame".

Before presenting this interview, I want to tell you how Richard came to be featured this month. Just a few weeks ago Richard "accidentally" stumbled upon my site and sent me one of his poems. I liked the poem and wrote him back asking him if I could post it on this site. He agreed and we kept communicating via e-mail. In the past few weeks (a relatively short time), I have accumulated a number of his poems. I have also learned a lot about the poet through his correspondence in e-mail. I can always recognize genuine poetic talent and can identify Richard as one.

When I was forced to abandon my plans to interview the poet scheduled for this month due to her illness, it seemed natural for me to ask Richard to do this interview. Although "new" to my site, his poetry is very good, he seems to be very interesting and his poetry has received significant attention from my site visitors. I was pleasantly surprised when he agreed to do this interview for me because I had the impression that he just might refuse. I was wrong.

Here is my interview with Richard J. Amoroso, the February featured poet. Users were encouraged to ask Richard questions.  The following interview was conducted online between February 4, 2000 and February 8, 2000.

Thank you. Poetheart

February 2000, Richard J. Amoroso Interview sections you may visit (click)
Other poetry by Richard


The Interview:

Poetheart:  Richard, tell us a little bit about who Richard is. Give us some background about yourself.

Richard:  My name is Richard J. Amoroso. I'm 51, with a house, 2 cars, 3 kids, a wife, a dog and all the bills to prove it. Spent 3 years in the Army - 2 of them overseas.....Germany and Vietnam. I'm a retired federal civil service worker who spent 26 years in the electronics field. Retired in 1994.

Poetheart: How did you happen to find this site?

Richard: As most can see, I'm one of the newest member of Jay's stable of fledglings. I found your site quite by accident (Yahoo has you prominently displayed on page one......all I did was type in "poetry.com" in the search box, and there you were.......and THAT is how I found you...... The rest is, as they say, hisssssssstoooooorrrrrryyyyyyy...........but was so impressed that I decided to send you something.....and so it began.

Poetheart: (laughing): Richard, my "stable of fledglings"? Please explain.

Richard: We are neither a Frost, or a Poe, or a Dickinson, or a Byron or Dylan Thomas- we are among the vast sea of average thinkers who will never be elevated to the lofty heights of esoteric greatness.......we are mere mortals plying our trade in the hopes of brightening up somebody's day.

Poetheart: Do you consider yourself a "fledgling poet"?

Richard: Unquestionably and without a doubt.....it's nice to receive a compliment from others; in praise, there is satisfaction, in criticism, there is growth.....to try harder and to use those gifts which God may have given you......if I were to try to make a living from this, I'm sure the first thing I'd be told is "Don't quit your day job". But I simply reached a point where I decided to share what I do with others in the hope of receiving some kind of feedback-good or bad and to see where I measure up with the competition......for the poet, it's nice to reach for the stars, as long as we use our heartstrings as a launch pad......as a painting is a visual feast for the eyes, a poem should be a feast for the mind.

Poetheart: Which renowned poet do you admire?

Richard: There is really no one poet I admire the most but if you held a gun to my head, I would have to pick Robert Frost.

Poetheart: And would I have to hold a gun to your head to get an answer to which of his poems is your favorite and why you like it?

Richard: Since I haven't read anything by Robert Frost since the 10th grade, I guess I fail on this one.

Poetheart: Then Robert Frost must have left a very strong impression on you to mention him after all this time. What do you like about his poetry?

Richard: I like the phrasing - plain, simple, to the point and without the slightest hint of mental fatigue on the part of the reader.

Poetheart: I wanted you to select one of your poems to be featured. Which one do you choose and can we talk a little bit about it?

Richard: For that, I select "For the Keeper of the Flame". It's one of those that came out right.

Poetheart: Can you expand on that a little, Richard? Can we talk more about "For the Keeper of the Flame"? What is it that you like about it? You said it "came out right". What do you mean?

Richard: Ok. To me, the words just flowed out like honey - syllabically, the lines meshed to my satisfaction. I'm actually proud of it. When does a poet know when not to add more? When does an artist know when to put down the brush? When that little inner bell says "done".....some poems sound "choppy". Some ramble on without direction and some, when read, sound like they were written on grease-slicked paper.

Poetheart: Do your poems sometimes "come out wrong"?

Richard: YES!!! And they meet up with the computer guillotine. It's called the delete button!

Poetheart: What do you want readers of this poem to derive from "Keeper"?

Richard: If I answered that, I'd be giving away it's secret. There is no greater satisfaction to anyone who creates anything then to let the readers decide for themselves. This is not a cop out. If a poem is read by 6 people and 6 people derive 6 different meanings, then the poem has succeeded on 6 different levels. No poet could ask for more. Interpretation, like beauty, is in the eye of the reader.

Poetheart: Do you find writing poetry an "easy" thing?

Richard: I hate to say this - but yes. They all just pop out. If I can get past the first line, then it pretty much writes itself. I let my mood or the feeling just carry it along on it's given path. Most, if not all of them, never take more than 20 minutes. Those that meet the delete key are the ones that were "forced". Do I think I'm good? NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! But I can be average on a good day. I know when I'm pleased with what I've written. After that, I keep my fingers crossed when a reader gets their hands on it. THEY are the final arbiter of what's good Those who wallow in self-aggrandizement are the ones who never get compliments- patting oneself on the back is not very satisfying. Know what I mean? My philosophy on poetry is real very simple: nothing worth sharing is worth hiding.... nothing worth hiding is worth revealing.... nothing worth revealing is worth thinking.... nothing worth thinking is worth telling.... nothing worth telling is worth writing.... and nothing worth writing is worth nothing at all....

Poetheart: That last part is very thought provoking - yours?

Richard: Yes. It is mine, for what it's worth. I hope it came out right - I can't think in the abstract.

Poetheart: How long have you been writing poetry?

Richard: I started as a teenager.....stopped when I went into the Army. After a 25 year break, I started again.

Poetheart: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Richard: All poems should come from within - what is felt in your heart should lead your head. Where does creativity come from? I have no idea. Ask God.

Poetheart: Who is your audience for your poetry? Some of your poems seem very personal and intimate. They usually seem to be written for someone. Who is it?

Richard: They are written for she who tiptoes across the clouds and trails my heart behind on Cupid's love string.

Poetheart: What does poetry mean to you, Richard?

Richard: From a strictly personal level, it's a way to express my inner feelings. Some people paint, some sing, some dream and some write....and since I can't draw a straight line, I use the only avenue of release that I can.

Poetheart: I couldn't wait to ask you about "A Team for the Ages". A lot of the visitors to the site have asked if this one was published or if you have submitted this to the Yankee site. Tell us about this entertaining piece.

Richard: Ah, the Yankee one. Ok. "A Team for the Ages" was simply a tribute, drawing on all that I know about them. I posted it to not a lot of fanfare or input. But it is what is - a tribute. Anyone who knows about them can relate to every line, every player and even the ones I forgot to mention. To make a long story short, I became a fan (of the Yankees) in 1957, by default - growing up in the Bronx made getting to the Stadium just a train ride away. Through the 60's and on, I watched them rise and fall - like a lot of "Noo Yawkas". I went to the parade this past October, along with 5 trillion people. I got to see nothing. I was 4 blocks past City Hall. By 12 noon, I had enough and caught the train home. Walked into an empty house, took off my coat, grabbed a beer, sat down at the keyboard and voila'!!! Out it came! Three days later, I added 12 more lines - a rarity for me. I posted it in the Yankee website late last October. I have NO idea how many people read it but the sum total of how many responded was two - yeah, TWO! What a bust, eh? I received 2 requests for it - from the same two that read it. Both from Virginia!!!! How many people have passed comment on it from your website, I have no idea.

Poetheart: I have heard from at least a half dozen readers in e-mail and then from another 4 or 5 in person. The response to your poem from poetheart.com is probably a lot greater because it is a poetry site rather than just another thing on the Yankee website. It probably got taken for granted. Were you disappointed in what you might consider a lack of response to that poem? What were you expecting when you posted it on the Yankee website?

Richard: To tell you the truth, I had NO idea what to expect when I posted it. Taken for granted? That's impossible to answer. I put it up there almost as an afterthought, never dreaming that ANYONE would read it, let alone respond. I thought it nothing more than part of the glut that was there at that time. I think it got buried in the plethora of input following the World Series win. Since only two people responded, I wasn't far off the mark with this assumption - whoever showed the slightest bit of interest in it, please thank them for me. Since I don't know who they are, I'll take your word for it.

Poetheart: Let's talk about "Kitchen Wars". It's obvious what this poem is about and it is a thoroughly entertaining and clever poem. What made you think of this as a subject for a poem? Is this about Richard and the Mrs.? Is it autobiographical?

Richard: It was written as a goof........there is a light side to me. Actually, I'm not half bad as a cook. By the way, it is posted in my kitchen on quality paper as a reminder every time somebody wants to complain.

Poetheart: When you sent me your first poem ("through the eyes of a mirror") what was your intention? Did you want to see it posted on my site?

Richard: That poem was a trial balloon to see if I measured up. And YES, it pleased me to no end to see it posted. Thank you, Poetheart. Thank you.......

Poetheart: "Seasons of the Heart" takes the reader through somewhat of a journey through the year. It is well written and seems to have been carefully mapped out before you penned it. True? Did you write this over several times before you arrived at the final version? How well do you plan out your poems? Do you use any type of outlining or other device in "poem planning"?

Richard: That one was written last November. I have never rewritten a poem. What you read is exactly as it comes out. No changes. If I had to rewrite a poem, I would destroy it. A question for you, Jay - what is "poem planning"? Without sounding redundant, they all just flow out....10, 15, 20 minutes, they're done.......NEXT!!! Most of the time, I sit at the keyboard and have no idea what I'm gonna write till I start. Then, I take it from there. Again, once I get past the first line, the rest of it tumbles out........can't explain it......I just do it.

Poetheart: You employ the device of rhyme in all of your poems. Can we talk about your use of rhyme?

Richard: Writing in rhyme is more challenging than, what I guess they call, "free form". I'll write you a few to give you an idea, ok?

Poetheart: How easy do you find this to do? Are you ever just "stumped" and have to abandon a line or thought because of a rhyming problem?

Richard: Sometimes I'll reread a line a few times to see where I wanna go with it. All this does is delay me.

Poetheart: What do you do then?

Richard: It's not that I'm in a rush, but when a rhyme bogs me down, it slows the flow up...... sometimes, it's a matter of "catch as catch can".

Poetheart: Your very recent poem "Welcome Home" is very romantic, as many of your poems I have seen are, with the exception of "A Team for the Ages" and "Kitchen Wars". May I ask you what prompted you to write this one?

Richard: She had a long hard day, she came home........I dreamt the dream......out it came.....

Poetheart: Is Richard J. Amoroso a romantic?

Richard: If there is no romance and humor in life, why bother living? It's not a matter of being an optimist or a pessimist, but in this life, once in a while, we all have to stop and smell the roses and appreciate just who it is we're with or wanna be with. It all comes from that - and, am I a romantic? My last name (Amoroso) in Italian means "lover"....a gift from God. And to answer your question, Yes.

Poetheart: How does poetry fit in with the rest of your life?

Richard: Like furniture........it just fits.

Poetheart: Does your family (wife, children, etc.) read your poetry? What do they think about your writing poems? Are they "fans" of your work?

Richard: Most of them just consider it an intrusion to THEIR time online. Hence, I've taught myself to write with speed - goes with the territory.....

Poetheart: Where would you like to go with your poetry or are you already there?

Richard: Actually, I'd like to perfect my craft to a point that I won't be embarrassed to show someone - especially a relative.

Poetheart: Any advice for "wannabe" poets?

Richard: I will assume by "wannabe" you mean someone who's never been published. You're interviewing one. To those like me, just keep writing and explore new ideas, see how the non wannabes do it and reach deep down inside to see what's there. If there is anything, it will come out. And don't be too concerned about how it all reads.

Poetheart: Is there anything you would like to clarify or explain about this interview?

Richard: Other than to thank you for giving me this opportunity to allow me to share what I've done with others, no.....I've pretty much said it all.

Poetheart: (Laughing) Richard, would you like to add anything to this interview or volunteer any information I did not ask you which you thought I might and were prepared to answer?

Richard: To those who think they're not good enough: Guess again, you are. To those who think they are good: Guess what? You're not. And to those who are clueless, write, write, write!

Poetheart: Sounds like some good advice. A great addition to the interview.   Richard, thank you very much for the time you took on this "interview" and thank you in advance for answering questions from site visitors which will follow once this is posted on poetheart.com. Ready for questions from the readers?

Richard: If I haven't put anyone to sleep, fire away.......If I have, sweet dreams!

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