This week I interviewed poet and author, Cyrus Parker, ahead of the release of his new poetry book, DROPKICKromance. Enjoy!
So Cyrus, you have a book coming out in the next few weeks, DROPKICKromance, can you tell me how you decided on the title?
I’m not sure what the process is for other poets, but for me, I often come up with a title first, and that dictates the theme of the collection. I went through a number of titles and thus, themes, while writing DROPKICKromance, and DROPKICKpoetry is one title that kept speaking to me. For those who don’t know, I spent about five years wrestling professionally on the Michigan independent circuit, and I felt that DROPKICKpoetry served as somewhat of a bridge between Cyrus Parker the wrestler and Cyrus Parker the poet. I completed the first draft of DROPKICKpoetry, but ultimately, I felt that I tried to tackle too many topics at once, and the collection just didn’t flow well. I was then faced with a dilemma: continue pushing forward with DROPKICKpoetry and hope I could make it work, or scrap it and start from scratch. After having a conversation with my then-fiancée, Amanda Lovelace, we both decided it would be best if I started over and focused on a narrower range of topics. My process kind of flipped flopped here, and rather than starting with the title like I usually do, I decided to theme the book around relationships, and then gave it a name. The title DROPKICKromance was actually a section title from the DROPKICKpoetry draft, and I’m so happy I was able to make use of it.
You've recently married poet Amanda Lovelace (congratulations!) - would you say the book, with its themes of romance, is an extended love poem to her?
Thank you so much! To answer your question, yes and no. DROPKICKromance is very much a tale of two relationships. When I started writing for DROPKICKpoetry, I found myself going back to a place I had no interest in going—quite the opposite, actually. The first half or so of DROPKICKromance deals with a relationship I was involved in for several years, prior to my relationship with Amanda. The relationship was toxic for a number of reasons, and I internalized most of what I had felt during that time. I told myself I’d never write about that relationship as it has been over and done with for a while, but the more I wrote, the more it begged me to write about it. I’d decided that if I ever wanted to write about anything else, I needed to exorcise these pent up emotions and try to deal with the lingering effects of them. DROPKICKromance walks you through that relationship, the aftermath of it, and into my relationship with Amanda. The second half of the book is very much an extended love letter to Amanda, and admittedly, it was the most challenging part to write. In DROPKICKromance, there’s a poem that addresses this in greater detail, but in short, I find it much easier to put to articulate pain than I do love and happiness. No matter what I wrote, I never felt that I was doing Amanda or our relationship the justice it deserved, so I ended up putting a ton of added pressure on myself, which I do think helped my writing in the end.
You write 'he tried to immortalise his name amongst the stars, but at the end of the day, he was just a tiny little man in a great big world' - but do you believe that writing, and poetry specifically, CAN have a wider impact?
Absolutely, and I think the fact that this poem and question are paired together is somewhat proof of that. Art, in the general sense, can be interpreted in as many different ways as there are people, and poetry is no different. The poem quoted above was actually written as commentary
on the way possessing an overinflated ego can make one think they’re much bigger than they really are, but the world will always be bigger. That’s what I wrote about, but that doesn’t mean it will be interpreted that way. People will always relate to poetry in different ways, and a poem can impact one person in an entirely different way than it impacts another, and that in itself is poetry. Further than that, poetry has the power to inspire change. So many poets use their poetry as a means of social and political commentary, and those poems often inspire others to speak out on what their passionate about, and when so many people are taking a stand for what they believe in, that’s how change happens. Poetry and protest go hand in hand.
Who is your favourite writer and why?
Aside from my wife, my favorite writer is Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grisha trilogy, and my personal favorite, the Six of Crows duology. I loved the Six of Crows series so much that I got the tattoo that most of the main characters have on their arm tattooed on my own arm. Fun fact: Leigh Bardugo actually officiated mine and Amanda’s wedding, which made an already unforgettable day even more so!
Where can we find you when you're not writing?
Either sitting at home next to my cat, Macchiato, watching Fullmetal Alchemist, or wandering around my favorite park catching Pokémon in Pokémon GO!
Can you share a favourite poem from the book with us?
and fill them
with our story.
— ours will always be my favorite.