Guest Author Interview: Joshua R. Leuthold, Part 2

Here's the second part of my long interview with poet (and husband) Joshua R. Leuthold.  Dive into our discussion on his first poetry chapbook, writing inspirations, and how to write a better poem.

Did your title come to you easily, or did you have to search for it?

The title of my poetry chapbook was difficult at first. I have a Word document on my computer right now that has a collection of 24 possible titles. There are actually 6 unique titles with each of the unique titles having multiple variations. The most interesting thing about the selection of Long Day in Rehab as my final title was that this was the only title without any alternates following it. Even more interesting is that this title was something I had been carrying with me for a long time.

Initially it was meant to be used for the creation of experimental ambient music. If I ever decide to invest the kind of time and money that music creation requires, maybe I'll still use it for that as well, but it perfectly fits the theme of my chapbook.

What’s something you’ve wanted to tell people about your chapbook that you haven’t yet?

Long Day in Rehab, the title and the collection, doesn't just refer to rehabilitation from injury or drugs. Any form of self-improvement could be considered a rehabilitation of sorts, and I really drew on the ideas of self-improvement through self-discovery with the poetry I included in my chapbook. Some forms of rehabilitation even require a certain amount of deconstruction and experimentation, so even the one or two poems that may seem a little different than all the rest are there for a very specific reason.

Did you draw from personal experience to write this book?  How did you incorporate it into the poetry?

Actually, a very large amount of my poetry begins with personal experience. As I mentioned previously, my early poetry was very confessional and close, and often my first drafts still are extremely personal or private. The key to this is editing and revision. Over time, I have learned to look at my work objectively to pull out those lines that make it overly personal. Once personal elements have been removed, I follow the themes and tone to really drive home the emotions I initially embedded into the poem. The goal is always to conjure up the appropriate feelings in the reader without saying, for example, “This poem is about that time a girlfriend left me and took my favorite album with her.”

Is there a poetry collection or poet who influenced this book?

I can never name just one influence on anything I do because of how much I read, but my influences that may be most noticeable are: John Gallaher, Denis Johnson, Franz Wright, and, of course, David Dodd Lee. While all the names influenced me with their writing, David Dodd Lee influenced me in a college course I took on writing poetry. His comparison of poetry to painting really drew me in to how to form my lines. I find myself constantly thinking of each poem as a painting while I'm editing it, with the tone as the palette I've chosen, the theme as the subject, and the imagery as how it is all put together.

John Gallaher and David Dodd Lee are incredibly gifted poets we've both had the pleasure to meet. What does your cover tell us about your chapbook?

The cover of Long Day in Rehab is a wonderful picture my wife took while we were driving. I had a two-door sports coupe at the time, and the right side mirror was cracked. She angled the camera just right to snap a picture of the sun. I can't remember if it was rising or setting, which is part of the charm of the image, as it can be viewed like the cliché of the glass: either half-empty or half-full.

The way the image really struck me as fitting for this chapbook, though, was the fact that every poem conjures up a view of something beautiful that is “off” in some way. The image is one of beauty with a crack in it. Even more interesting is that the image is one of reflection. Any act of rehab requires a certain amount of reflection on what has happened, and this reflection can often be distorted by trauma. The reflection is healthiest, however, when it occurs while moving forward. The movement in the image is implied, and while the movement is away from things, they are still closer than they appear.

My hope, of course, is not that the reader will spend the time studying the image to get all of this out of it, but that as they read my chapbook, they get the same feeling from it as they got from that first look at the cover.

Would you like to tell us about your next project?  How is it similar to or different from this book?

My next release will be Spira Mirabilis, which will be released in 21 days. It is a dense short story that packs a lot of punch. A young man comes home to find his mother is dead from a gunshot wound to the head. He spirals through grief while trying to understand exactly what happened, how it happened, and who was responsible.

 Where to Find Joshua R. Leuthold

Josh's short story and everything he publishes after that is going to be amazing.  Keep track of his releases and stories here:

Where to Buy Now


In print:


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