Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Joe Numbers, author of The Last Hello: 99 Odes to the Body.
FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book?
NUMBERS: I’m 71, married and have one daughter who lives in Sydney, Australia. I’m a licensed architect and have practiced in Idaho and California (Lake Tahoe/Truckee area) for over forty years. Ever since high school, I’ve written poetry. Looking back, it was REALLY bad poetry. But my classmates kept encouraging me, so I kept writing.
FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.
NUMBERS: This book is a collection of odes to the body. Celebrating the individual body parts literally from head to toe. It is both a serious and a humorous look at the human body.
FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?
NUMBERS: I felt compelled to complete this collection of odes because it seemed like no one else had done anything similar. I was originally inspired by the odes of Pablo Neruda. I was introduced to his poetry while living in Santiago, Chile in the early 1970’s.
FQ: Please give our readers a little insight into your writing process. Do you set aside a certain time each day to write, only write when the desire to write surfaces, or ?
NUMBERS: I only write when the desire surfaces…usually late at night.
FQ: The genre of your book is narrative poetry. Why this genre?
NUMBERS: This collection is meant to be a celebration of the human body and its many individual parts. By definition, odes are celebratory in nature and therefore they are the perfect literary expression to convey the beauty and complexity of the human body and the human experience. Anything less becomes a dull textbook description of a miracle of design and purpose.
FQ: Who are your favorite authors?
NUMBERS: I enjoy the writing of Pablo Neruda (obviously), Ernest Hemingway, and the “Don Juan” series of books by Carlos Castaneda.
FQ: As an author/writer, what famous author (living or dead), would you like to have dinner with, and why?
NUMBERS: I’d like to have dinner with Ernest Hemingway because of his strong connection to Idaho and his clean, straight forward writing style. He led an incredible life in many countries around the world and experienced the best and worst of humankind and then wrote powerfully about his experiences.
FQ: What is your all-time favorite book? Why? And did this book/author have any influence over your decision to become an author?
NUMBERS: I think my all-time favorite book is Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda. It changed my life. I had been writing poetry since high school, but this book gave me a vision of what really good, beautiful poetry looked and sounded like.
FQ: If you were to teach a class on the art of writing, what is the one item you would be sure to share with your students and how would you inspire them to get started?
NUMBERS: I would urge the students to be keenly aware of their surroundings and to mentally describe what they see around them. Also, to look for the patterns, colors and structures of natural and everyday objects around them.
FQ: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
NUMBERS: I agonized over virtually every single word in this collection. Is this the right adverb? Adjective? Is there a better, more poetic way to phrase this thought? Is it too wordy? Not wordy enough? Does it make sense? Etc., etc.
For more information on The Last Hello: 99 Odes to the Body, please visit the publisher's website at atmospherepress.com