Heath Brougher is the poetry editor of Five 2 One Magazine. He has published two chapbooks, "A Curmudgeon Is Born" (Yellow Chair Press) and "Digging for Fire" (Stay Weird and Keep Publishing Co.). He is a Best of the Net Nominee and was the judge of Into the Void's 2016 Poetry Competition. His work has appeared in both print and online journals in 12 countries and has also been translated into Albanian.
INTERVIEW WITH HEATH BROUGHER
Welcome to Scarlet Leaf Review!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I was born and raised in York, PA. My mom was pregnant with me during the Three Mile Island crisis which was only a 45-minute drive away from where she lived. I went to the most horrible middle/high school in the world with a bunch of snobs who put me through a daily grind of humiliation and ridicule because I would not "conform" and sell out my Individuality like they did. I've been writing my entire life but didn't begin to submit my work for publication until 3 years ago (at the age of 34) so I've got a ton of notebooks filled up and 59 books written that all need typed up and edited. I've already copied up more than a thousand of them and it's barely made a dent in the plethora of notebooks, so I've got a lot of catching up to do.
Q: Do you think that your school years have had an impact in your writing career? If so, what were you like at school?
Most definitely. As I said, I went to the snobbiest school in the state and had to deal with these scumbags on a daily basis. It was torture from 6th-12th grade. Writing was a great solace for me back then and remains a great solace to me.
Q: Were you good at English or like Einstein you excel now in a field that was a nightmare for you as a student?
English was always my favorite class. The one good thing about the horribly stuck-up school that I went to was that from grades 8th-12th my English teachers were amazing and it was always their classes I looked forward to the most. I was one of the few moronic American kids who actually went to school to learn things. I also had some really great history teachers along the way as well. I excelled at history because of my dad, who has a masters degree in history and pretty much shoved it down my throat as long as I can remember. Even as a little kid he'd tell me about certain events or make me watch certain documentaries and movies, which, of course I didn't like at the time because I was a kid and just wanted to play, but it came in really handy once I got to middle/high school and aced every history test I took. I'm still very grateful for it.
Q: What are your future ambitions for your writing career?
To have fun and help people along the way. My goal is to bring down the elitist journals which judge who and what they accept by a person's bio instead of the actual work itself. I recently spoke to a poet who has been in this lit world for 40 years and they told me they had worked for journals which would just throw out a submission without reading it if the bio wasn't good enough. I read blind at both of the journals I worked for and the contest I judged and the anthology I edited. I'm the co-editor of Into the Void Magazine which won the 2017 Saboteur Award after only 4 issues. How'd we do it ? By reading blind! I want to see a day where all journals read blind and the voices which should be heard get the proper chance. I want to level the playing field of this lit world.
Q: So, would you mind telling us what you have written so far?
As far as books, Alien Buddha Press recently published my newest, titled "About Consciousness." I'd like to thank Red Focks for accepting it and putting in all the amazing artwork that goes along with some of the poems. My. other books include "A Curmudgeon is Born," "Digging for Fire," and "Your Noisy Eyes," all of which were published in 2016. Also, the Issue 5 of Into the Void Magazine was recently released and I'm extremely happy and proud to say that it's our best one yet! We didn't think we could possibly top Issue 4 but we did!
Q: Where can we buy or see them?
All but one of my books are available on Amazon.com as well as Yellow Chair Review's website, Stay Weird and Keep Writing's Website, and Alien Buddha Press' website.
Q: What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about?
I currently have 17 different books I'm trying to get typed up and edited but my main focus is on the most important book I've written or put together so far which is titled "To Burn in Torturous Algorithms" which introduces a style of writing I've been developing as far back as age 17 which I call Spiralism. That is the book I need to find the perfect home for.
Q: When did you decide to become a poet? What was the decisive factor or you just took a pen and starting writing poems?
There was never a decision. I've just been writing ever since I learned how to I guess.
Q: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I began a 12-year hermitage years ago, which I am just coming out of, during which I removed all mirrors from my apartment just so I could mirror only my own thoughts and not be influenced by the insanity of society. During that seclusion, I came across many original thoughts and had many great Epiphanies. The only way I think I've really evolved as far as outside influence is, now having read the works of Felino Soriano, Heller Levinson, and Alan Britt, which may occasionally have a subconscious effect on my writing.
Q: In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about writing?
Submissions. I've grown so tired of reading submission guidelines and putting submissions together that I've just been focusing more on the books I'm working on. I just counted and I've sent out a total of 59 submission so far, this year. I used to try to get one out every day.
Q: What book/s are you reading at present?
I'm currently buried under 18 different books I told people I'd write reviews for. I feel bad that it's taking so long to get them finished because I have all of these other obligations to juggle.
Q: Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
That's what I need to start doing. Two of the books I've published were thrown together in one night.
Q: Tell us about the covers of your books. How did it/they come about?
Well, with my first book "A Curmudgeon is Born" I actually came across the perfect cover before I was even done putting the book together. Thankfully Dianne Borsenik stepped in and saved the day by getting me the artist's phone number so I could call and ask permission to use the image. Another cover was done by Bree Bodnar, and with my latest book I was given a chance to pick from a plethora of different images thanks to Red Focks, who is a great poet and artist.
Q: What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I've never self-published anything of my books. I've always submitted to the presses. I do have two books I was thinking about self-publishing because they're just so "out there" that I can't foresee a press ever accepting one of them.
Q: Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Get out there and read. It's a great way to meet new people and get your work noticed. I've done several readings in Great Britain and a bunch of different U.S. cities.
Q: Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
I haven't yet but I'm planning a full-on assault of promotion once "To Burn in Torturous Algorithms" is accepted. Or, rather, IF it is ever accepted. I told myself I'd submit it for a year and a half and if they're no takers then I'll just self-publish it. It's the most important book I've put together so far and if I self-published it I wouldn't have to hold back on certain aspects of Spiralism which I've had to eliminate in order to make this first book more palatable to editors.
Q: What is your favorite motivational phrase? What is your favorite positive saying?
"Insist on yourself. Never imitate." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
To bring joy to readers everywhere.