One of the most influential forms of writing is poetry. It helps writers and readers to understand and appreciate the world we live in. Every poem comes with a unique meaning for every reader, and makes them analyze the most intimate inner workings of the soul and heart.
This week, I was lucky to interview Robert A Cozzi, a featured poet three times over in The World Poetry Movement’s publications, including “The Best Poems and Poets of 2011”. Robert grew up in Westfield, New Jersey, and has written five books to date, and “kaleidoscope of colors” is his latest.
Read on as Robert discusses his life as a poet, his books, the role of poetry in modern society, awards, and more.
1. Let’s begin with a brief introduction of yours and an overview of your latest book— kaleidoscope of colors.
I have kept a writing journal since I was 14 years old, so I have always written. I began organizing my first book back in 2012 when a small independent publisher read one of the poems I had posted on Facebook.
My latest release, “Kaleidoscope of Colors,” was written over the past year of my life. Much like an actual kaleidoscope, this book contains all types of themes and emotional colors. Some pieces are one or two lines while others are multiple page prose pieces. I definitely feel like “Kaleidoscope” is my best work to date.
2. How much time do you usually take to finish a book? Do you follow a writing routine?
I write something every day in addition to documenting the events of the day in my journal. It typically takes me a calendar year to have enough writing pieces that are “book worthy.” Since coming on Instagram last year, I push myself to post a new writing piece daily.
3. You have five published books of poetry. Is there a recurrent theme that you keep turning to?
I write about real experiences. Things that have happened to me or to someone close to me. Or I can write from something I have observed but the common thread is that it all begins from a real place. I never make up something that hasn’t really happened. So, my readers really get to know me when they read my words because I am incredibly honest.
4. When did you realize that you were meant to be a poet?
It happened late in life for me. I was in my 40’s and during the early years of YouTube; I slowly began reading some of my pieces on video. Back then, YouTube was a wonderful place for artists. We had a very close-knit community and I developed long lasting friendships there. In fact, my friend, Cody, who penned the Foreword in “Kaleidoscope” is one of my YouTube friends.
5. While writing poems and other write-ups, do you have any particular audience in mind?
I write for everyone. I want young people and people older than me to connect. Having said that, though, my main demographic of readers are men (40%) and women (60%) between the ages of 18 and 35, which I find interesting. Perhaps this is because I am a late bloomer myself. I love my audience, and how so many young people like the artistic elements of poetry.
6. What according to you is the role of poetry in the modern-day society? Does the youth turn towards it?
I feel like the youth of today is absolutely drawn to poetry. I recently had a young Instagram follower of mine told me that my work is a “magnet for young writers because my tone is youthful.”
As far as the role of poetry, I believe it provides emotional release and lets people know that they are not alone in their thoughts. My hope is always that after someone reads something that I have written, they will remember feeling a certain way and perhaps this was a moment they had forgotten before reading my words.
7. Three life lessons that poetry taught you?
-You have to be fearless and hold nothing back.
-Pay more attention to word flow and ignore the traditional “Rules of Poetry.”
-Clarity, don’t make the reader struggle to find the meaning behind your words. Make your words accessible to everyone.
8. I read somewhere that you read to children on Saturday mornings. Can you please tell more about it? How do you like it?
Yes, I have been doing this for nine years now and it is something I absolutely love. In my town, our public library doesn’t have a separate Children’s Library, so over the years, I have helped add books to the children’s section.
When I first began, the children were very young. A lot of them are still with me now and are 14 and 15 years old. Nowadays, it is more of a reading group with the kids taking turns reading the chapters aloud to the group. These days the age range of my reading group is 9-15.
When I was a child, my mom always took me to the library for story hour and it had such an impact on me and inspired my love of reading and writing. I have seen the same with the kids I read to now at the library and I love that. Saturday mornings are the best part of my week.
9. Please tell our readers about your awards and recognition. How do they encourage you to write better?
It is always an honor to be recognized for your work. Things began with being a three-time semi-finalist for the World Poetry Movement and then my book, “Blanket of Hearts,’ won the gold and bronze medals in the International eLit Book Awards for Best Book Trailer (Gold) and Best Poetry Book (Bronze). It also won first place in the Metamorph Publishing National Awards.
My next release, “Sky of Dreams,” won the silver medal for poetry books in the eLit Book Awards. And most recently, “Kaleidoscope of Colors,” earned the bronze medal in this year’s eLit Book Awards.
These awards certainly help with exposure, but they don’t really change how I write. I think with anything you work on every day, you naturally get better and better. I have personally seen my writing evolve with each book.
Suggested reading: An interview with Charmi Vyas Mehta, Author of SOULMATE
10. A quick-fire round (answer in up to 50 words)
Luck or Hard Work, what do you think weighs more in defining a successful person?
Both. At least that has been the case with me personally. I think you definitely need to be committed to your craft and work on it every day.
A line said by your close one that you’ll never forget.
When I was organizing the pieces for my second book, “Handful of Memories,’ my dad was very ill and my book was a good distraction for him in his final days.
One of the things he told me was that if I was going to be a writer, I couldn’t hold anything back and that I need to be fearless. He said this to me in response to the writing pieces that I had set aside that I deemed “too personal” for the book. I have never forgotten my dad’s words.
If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
I am terrible at writing titles, but let me take a stab at this …perhaps “A Life Written in My Own Words.”
Which is your favorite book?
This is a tough one because I have many, but here are a few, “On the Road “, by Jack Kerouac, “Wuthering Heights,” by Emily Bronte, and “The Fires of Spring,” by James Michener.
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