Kenneth P. Gurney. Tells us how you started in poetry? What age?
Alex Dykes: I think I was around 18 years old, give or take a year. I was living in Sevierville, Tennessee and I met these two cats names Jeremiah and Lee. They were all about a man named Bukowski, read him, wrote like him. Long story short, I wrote a few Bukowskis myself, found I loved the craft, kept at it, still at it now at almost thirty. It’s my great passion.
KPG. What is your favorite breakfast?
AD: Good bread, toasted, with goat cheese and triple berry jam on it with two eggs over easy, a beer and some coffee.
KPG. Does your university degree influence your writing of poetry and how?
AD: Well, I don’t have a university degree unfortunately. I went and learned some valuable tools, but in the end, I had to leave for work. I’ve always supported myself and it’s damn near impossible to work as much as I do, be a dedicated student and find time to pursue writing. One had to go so…
KPG. Is there any endeavor that you are passionate about outside of poetry? How does it enrich you?
AD: I dabble in music, though my father was the musician, but yes! Music is that force that narrates our every passing moment, it can’t help but to enrich you!
KPG. Tell about one of your favorite poetry experiences.
AD: Well, there’s a regular reading where I’m from, once a month for 20 years now. We get all kinds: professors, poets (known for their own reason), and of course the riff-raff like myself. Anyway, and this was a few years ago, this guy comes in, real quiet, sits politely during everyone elses reading, claps, ya know, just chillin’. Well, they call his name, and he gets up there and from nowhere pulls out this old school megaphone and starts shouting this political rhetoric in metered verse, and no one can get him off stage, and certainly no one’s talking louder than this guy now, so here’s this room of people out for a quiet night, with maybe a scandalized chuckle here and there and this dude’s blastin’ ’em! It was fantastic! I laughed the whole time!
KPG. Do you have a connection to the American Civil War? Relative who served? Visited a battlefield and have a story?
AD: On my fathers side I was related to a man named Abraham. There’s a photo of him collecting dust in a box in my… Aunt’s house, I think. Guy’s terrifying to look at. Eyes so blue they’re white in the picture. Looks like Rasputin. The story goes he fought for the confederacy, lived, retired to his farm, then the confederacy arrogates his farm, he fights for the Union, lives, retires on the same farm. Don’t know if it’s true, but lookin’ at him, yeah, I could see it.
KPG. If you could wave a magic wand and place a poetry book into every high school english classroom as required reading, which one would it be and why?
AD: A compilation by Edna St. Vincent Millay. One, because she’s devastatingly brilliant; Two, she’s underrated and Three, we just need more female voices from antiquity that generally kick ass, and doing that from the angle of poetry?! That lady was awesome, she could show kids what it’s all about!
KPG. Where was your last selfie taken? With anyone?
AD: I um…I don’t do selfies. I hardly do photographs.
KPG. Recommend a poetry (or literary) website that you frequent.
AD: Poets & Writers, especially if you’re trying to publish! It’s certainly cheaper than The Poets Market.
KPG. What is your favorite National Park? Why?
KPG. Please tell about a dream that you work toward achieving at this time
AD: I just want to get there, THE dream for a writer. Do this for a living. Easy to say, ridiculously hard to accomplish, but worth it.
KPG. If there is a little known poet you think everyone should read, who is that poet and suggest one book of theirs we should purchase?
AD: There are so many around here I could suggest, though none of them have books unfortunately, but hopefully that will change. However, Jesse Graves is a wonderful poet, not really sure if I’d call him little known around here, but elsewhere maybe. His book is called Tennessee Landscape With Blighted Pine. If you want a good feel for what southern poetry is like, he’s got it down.
KPG. If you could be present at any moment in history as a safe observer or unsafe participant, what event would you visit and why?
AD: I’d want to be there when Plato met Socrates. The why of it lends itself I feel.
KPG. What reoccurring themes or personal experience have you noticed in your poetry over the years?
AD: I love a good dichotomy: nature vs. city, life vs. death, love vs. loneliness etc. alliteration is my absolute favorite tool and I try to make it do as many tricks for me as it’s able, and twisting perspectives, so the guy sitting in a chair at the beginning of the poem isn’t who you think he is, he’s that guys daughters son. Ya know, messin’ with folks.
KPG. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, or some other sweet?
AD: Dark chocolate! Dark as you can get it!