Toledo poet featured in NYCWritten by Evan Brune | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The work of a Toledo-area poet will be featured June 27 at Poets House, a 50,000-volume poetry library in New York.
John Dorsey will have his book “Tombstone Factory” showcased along with books published by other poets during the last year. Dorsey’s book is a compilation of his work from 2010-11.
“I’ve known about Poets House since I was in high school, so I’ve known about them for a long time. I know about their reputation, and it’s a good one,” he said. “I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
Wolfgang Carstens, publisher at Epic Rites Press, which published “Tombstone Factory,” said the annual Poets House exhibition is highly regarded.
“It’s the best of the small presses. It’s underground literature,” he said.
Dorsey is the child of an Army man and traveled across the country during his childhood. He began writing at an early age and attended college at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
“I started out writing really bad short stories when I was about 10,” he said. “I started writing poetry at 15. My dad was in the military, so I thought maybe poetry wasn’t the most masculine thing to do. When I did it, I was kind of blown away.”
Carstens, also a published poet, spoke highly of Dorsey.
“When I first heard John Dorsey, I was highly impressed. He’s the gold standard, as far as poetry is concerned,” Carstens said. “He is a man who was born with crystal balls for eyes.”
Dorsey is recognized internationally for his writing. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize 10 times and was named International Writer of the Year in 2003 by the Melrose Press, an Australian company.
“I’ve tried every form of writing there is, but poetry is what I’m known for,” he said. “I probably have more buyers internationally than I do here.”
Dorsey has traveled across the world to read his poetry, including notable stops in the United Kingdom.
“More than half of what I publish is eaten up by people in Ireland, Wales and Scotland,” he said.
Dorsey said he also has what he describes as a small, loyal fan base in India who also purchases his work.
“You have to be willing to travel if you’re going to write poetry,” he said.
Dorsey said the process of getting his poetry known took a lot of time and effort.
“You have to be willing to put yourself into situations which might not be best for you,” he said. “Sometimes, bands are willing to let you read poetry in between sets. I think if you like what you hear, you’re more inclined to buy it.”
Dorsey said a lot of his early days involved reading at bars 20 days out of the month, from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
“When the economy tanked, I was lucky, because I had already made a lot of contacts with publishers,” he said. “It’d have to be very hard to do what I did. Not that it was easy, but it’d be much harder.”
Dorsey said his writing style is unique in that he self-edits his poems before he begins writing.
“It could take a minute; it could take a year. When it goes to paper, it’s done, but I might think about it for a year,” he said.
Dorsey said he has a few projects in the works for next year, and he hopes he can keep working as a poet.
“I would eventually like to put together one big, fat volume of the first 20 years of my work,” he said. “I would like to keep making a living. I don’t expect a large living, but if I’m making any sort of living, I’m doing better than most people.”
Carstens said he hopes to have Dorsey read in Alberta on Aug. 26 at his event titled, “Ground Zero Revolution.” Carstens plans to record a live performance of Dorsey’s reading.
“A lot of poets, when they speak, they get quiet, soft. They get nervous,” Carstens said. “John is the opposite. John always delivers the goods.”