“I tend to be pretty obsessed with the human condition, I guess”: An Interview with Michael Meyerhofer

When we officially launched Pine Hills Review in July, we had the privilege of starting out with Michael Meyerhofer‘s poem, β€œIn Defense of Hipsters.” Michael recently published a fantasy novel, Wytchfire, book one in a trilogy (Red Adept Publishing). He also just had his fourth poetry book, What to Do If You’re Buried Alive (Split Lip Press), which will be released simultaneously with his second fantasy novel, The Knight of the Crane, in early 2015. His third poetry book, Damnatio Memoriae (lit. “damned memory”) won the Brick Road Poetry Book Contest. We sent him some questions. Here are his answers.

If a ten-year-old kid came up to you and told you she wanted to be a writer, what would you say to her?

Remember, the key to being a good writer is being a good reader.  Also, YOU are your own best source, when it comes to writing.  Put yourself into your work.  If it scares you, you’re doing it right. 

When you write, do you consider your audience? If so, how?

Yes, though that’s tricky because if you write too much to please a hypothetical audience, you’re not being true to the art.  On the other hand, the world is full of pretentious artists who couldn’t care less about their audience, which is equally bad. I think the trick is to be willing to look beyond the self, to consider experiences or perspectives–whether silly or profound or somewhere in the middle–that might apply to everyone.  Oh, and never forget the cardinal rule: audiences want to be entertained.  Countless things can be accomplished with art but everything has to start there.

How does your poem, “In Defense of Hipsters,” represent the type of artist you are?

I tend to be pretty obsessed with the human condition, I guess, but I also like to keep a sense of humor about the things that irritate me. Put another way, if a group kind of gets on my nerves, one way I keep from being two dimensional (and unfair) in my portrayal of them is by trying to see something beautiful in what’s annoying, and vice versa.

Who do you think we should be reading right now, and why?

I tend to read (and write) a lot of different kinds of stuff.  I’ve been really into A Song of Ice and Fire for years, as well as the poetry anthology, A Book of Luminous Things, and the contemporary poetry of Dorianne Laux, Marie Howe, and Norman Minnick. Oh, and you can never go wrong with a little Hemingway.

Tell us something about you we might be surprised to hear. 

I collect medieval weapons.  I have a room full of swords, maces, knives, and crossbows.  Well, replicas, but still.  Oh, and if requested, I can give a twenty-minute impromptu lecture on the different types of steel used in swords.  Blame my father.  Three things that he got me interested in early on were fantasy, reading in general, and weightlifting, which have stuck with me all my life.  

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