The silence surprises me —
no more thumping from my chest —
no more swooshing through my ears —
the little gurgles of a living body
are now absent and missed….
Silence by Bartholomew Barker appeared in Issue 2 of THE DARK SIRE and captured our imagination with its near perfect horror/gothic ambience. It was and is exactly the kind of poem that TDS feeds on. It called to mind any number of chilling Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems. Because of that, The Dark Forest wanted to interview Mr. Barker for our Monday Creative Nook feature.
TDS: First off, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed Silence. It reminded me so much of several of Edgar Allan Poe’s pieces that I was wondering which writers influenced you?
Bartholomew Barker: I’m not sure. I read a lot of poetry by both living and dead poets. I’m impressed with Poe’s ability to write metrical rhyming verse that’s also creepy. Whenever I try, it always turns out humorous. That’s why I stick with free verse. I usually enjoy Charles Bukowski, Tony Hoagland and have a crush on Edna St. Vincent Millay.
TDS: How did you get started as a poet? Or rather, why did you choose poetry to be your means of expression?
Bartholomew Barker: As with most poets, I started writing to deal with a trauma. Mine was quite minor, just a divorce, it wasn’t even my first, probably won’t be my last. When I shared my angry poems I got enough praise that I thought I’d try to take it seriously. That was ten years ago.
TDS: This is kind of a which comes first the chicken or the egg question. How does your poem develop? Do you write towards an ending, or do you conceive of an idea and start it to see where it goes?
Bartholomew Barker: Depends upon the poem. Some are like fried chicken, others like fried eggs.
TDS: Most dark poems center around emotions that may appear morbid or disturbing on the surface. Do you write to the emotion or does the writing act as a cathartic form of relaxation for you?
Bartholomew Barker: I write to the emotion. There are much more cathartic forms of relaxation out there!
TDS: Have you ever written a poem that frightened you?
Bartholomew Barker: Not really frightened but certainly disturbed that I could think of some images. Makes me wonder where my mind has been.
TDS: Does a poem ever get so dark that you have regretted sharing it with the public?
Bartholomew Barker: No regrets. When I decided to take poetry seriously, I realized I had to be comfortable sharing my strip club poems with my mother. Once I was good with that, I felt like an emperor with a new suit of clothes.
TDS: What sparked your initial love of poetry?
Bartholomew Barker: You assume I love poetry. Like all art, 90% of poetry is shit but when you read one of those 10% poems, it’s like injecting another person’s thoughts directly into your veins.
TDS: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Bartholomew Barker: When I’m out of wine but too drunk to drive to the liquor store.
TDS: Do you have a writing group or a community of writers that you share the creation of your work with?
Bartholomew Barker: Hell yes! I work with Living Poetry, the largest group of poets in the Triangle area of North Carolina. I’ve been participating in workshops for more than ten years and all the success I’ve had is due to the feedback I’ve gotten and given. There’s only one Emily Dickinson per generation who can write masterpieces in isolation. The rest of us have to hone our craft and the best way to do it is through workshops, receiving and genuinely accepting criticism.
TDS: What other subjects do you write poems about?
Bartholomew Barker: I post new poems to my blog www.bartbarkerpoet.com on a weekly basis. I post love poems, nature poems, astronomy haiku… These past few months I’ve been writing a lot of political poetry for some reason. My first full length collection was written about strippers and strip clubs. It’s called Wednesday Night Regular. My most recent is a chapbook of food poems called Milkshakes and Chilidogs. Both are available, like everything else in this world, on Amazon.
TDS: Where have you been published recently?
Bartholomew Barker: I have a poem about climbing trees in the current issue of the Naugatuck River Review. I had a fun poem about watching my local fire department put out a practice fire in the Gyroscope Review. I’ve been in various anthologies about everything from dance to science fiction to ekphrastic poetry. And I’m thrilled to have another poem appear in a future edition of The Dark Sire (Winter 2020, Issue 6).
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If you have questions for Mr. Barker, leave them in the comments and we’ll get you the answers.
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