Welcome AAG Author T. Byron!
T. Byron Kelly is a poet, painter, and musician from Appalachia USA. An AAG member and author of many poetry anthologies, short stories, and more, T. Byron embraces his Appalachia heritage and inspiration from the aesthetics of his surroundings…
GM: Your poetry is rooted deep in your memories and history. What was the first poem that you penned?
TBK: One of the first pieces of poetry from notebook Poems (1987-93) is titled “Clouds” from October 1987. Read “Clouds” at tybyronk.livejournal.com here.
GM: What are the requirements for a great poem?
TBK: I remember Jim Morrison said that “the self interview is the essence of creativity. Morrison’s idea was about asking questions (internally) and finding answers. I still think that poetry is the art of suggestion and it is an art form more akin to painting (and is often referred to as the sister of art). I also think that poetry remains the “spontaneous overflow of powerful emotion” as Wordsworth noted it should be. I believe the best poems are already eternal and written (as Blake supposed) in Heaven. I am not inclined to storytelling in poems at this point in my own work. I like to use word images to paint on the page and let them suggest a story rather than try to tell one. Wei T'ai wrote in the 11th century; "Poetry presents the thing in order to covey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling, for as soon as the mind responds and connects with the thing the feeling shows in words; this is how poetry enters deeply into us. If the poet presents directly feelings which overwhelm him, and keeps nothing back to linger as an aftertaste, he stirs us superficially; he cannot start the hands and feet involuntarily waving and tapping in time, far less strengthen morality and refine culture, set heaven and earth in motion and call up spirits!"
GM: How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
TBK: I like to notice the ordinary-extraordinary things. Goethe, in ‘The Poet’s Year’ talks about making the reader observant of things which; “recur as ordinary and familiar”. Rodin’s advice to the Poet Rilke was to simply “regard and observe”.
My poetry, music and art have always been a place for me of supernatural communion between the divine and earthly realms. The liberation of the ordinary is finding the eternal in the moment now-there is a sacred space of connection which transcends time itself and is born through spontaneity and my work has been to attempt to bring forth this language of light. We are curious bystanders at the crossroads of conscious and unconscious thought. Imagination, then, is the child of the dream and the mind. Poetry is a state of Grace.
GM: Besides the beauty of Appalachia, what/who is your muse and inspiration?
TBK: I have to say the Holy Spirit in my work as a Poet and Artist.
GM: Do you have a favorite poem from your own collection?
TBK: From the Va West Va. Collection of poems I think this is an interesting selection http://vawestva.livejournal.com/6884.html.
GM: Who is your favorite poet and how have they influenced your writing?
TBK: It is very difficult for me to choose one favorite Poet. I will say that I was very influenced by Jim Morrison’s American Prayer in my early years and would probably never have begun writing poems without hearing his work. I was also amazed by the poems and relief etchings of William Blake and began to consider the idea of combining my own poems with paintings after studying his work. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke is maybe one of the most important books I own.
GM: What are you currently writing?
TBK: I am working on a new book of poems titled Wait until the Morning Star, a kind of poetic memoir. I have also been working on two selections of poetry called Light & Shadow and The Beginning of the End since 2001.
GM: List 10 things that your fans probably do not know about you...
- I love color.
- I spent some time (as my Father had) in the Corps of Cadets at VPI.
- I have wandered the Jefferson National Forest on the edge of Virginia and West Virginia for years now.
- My family are all from Western Virginia, West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky and many were Coal Miners.
- I live in the eastern most part of Appalachia in Virginia.
- On my daily walks I sometimes yell at speeding cars “Slow Down”!
- I try to keep pen and paper on hand at all times (suggested also by the Poet Rilke).
- I still like the idea of being in a band after all of these years.
- I think Art is still endless.
- I think it may be possible to have art, literacy and tutoring stations in unused (Appalachian) community buildings http://wvarts.weebly.com/
Poet, Painter and Musician T. Byron Kelly has been working as an active performance artist in the South Western Virginia area (Appalachia) for over two decades and has generations of family from West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia. Live, spontaneous lyric poetry performances and gallery exhibits have been at the heart of the Poet's work. As an Undergraduate and Graduate student, Byron studied with poets Nikki Giovanni, Lucinda Roy, Grace Bauer and Anne Bromley, as well as novelist Don Secreast and painter Janet Niewald. Byron received private art instruction during that time and was also a member of Tri-M (Modern Music Masters honor society). Byron studied the relationships between poetry, painting and music and soon began to illustrate his own poems with paintings and put them to music as well. Byron has also taught creative writing and composition on the college level (currently at Pilot Mountain School and Solitude of Virginia Tech) and is a member of the Ghost House Studio-Appalachia, Spectral Arts, The Spooks-VA., WVArts, the Appalachian Writers Association (A.W.A.), the Appalachian Authors' Guild (A.A.G.), West Virginia Writers, the Virginia Writers Club, the XYZ Gallery (Blacksburg, VA.), Glencoe Museum (Radford, VA.) and the Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center (Christiansburg, VA).
T. Byron writes… I paint poems and found a kind of home there. My paintings have always been rather cartoon like and fantastically oriented, a rendering of a dream if you will - I always thought (about realist art) that if you wanted a photograph then why not take a snapshot with a camera?
Project End of Days-Selected Poems & New Selected Poems available @Amazon.com
Poetry @ http://tbyronk.livejournal.com
Music @ https://soundcloud.com/ghost-house-studio
Painting @ http://t-byron-k.pixels.com/
Gina McKnight is an author and freelance writer Ohio USA