Less than a month remains before the debut of The Needle Drops... Volume One. Our Beneath the Needle series continues, and today we're joined by Andrew M. Bowen, a poet behind two features in Vol. 1: Season of the Witch and Dancing with the Midnight Lady. Find out about his freeform approach to his prose, and the plethora of other creative undertakings Andrew has accomplished over the years.
Andrew M. Bowen has published 127 poems and three short stories. He has been writing poetry since he was a wee lad of 13, partially because he is fascinated by language. He enjoys writing poems in a variety of styles. He is also seeking to publish two novels, both based on his experiences as a young man, and is working on a third.
He had been a journalist for 20 years in his home state of Indiana, covering both news and sports. He is also an actor who has appeared in 10 independent films, nine stage productions, two podcasts, and two radio teleplays. One of the podcasts was The Ernie Pyle Experiment, one of the finalists for the 2021 Audie Awards. He played the father of the legendary Hoosier journalist.
So, Andrew - both Dancing with the Midnight Lady and The Season of the Witch captured our immediate interest with stunning form and imagery -- with such a long history of crafting poetry, could you give a little insight into your process and approach?
Frankly, I don’t know that I have either a process or an approach. I write many tankas because I find that form perfect for capturing the mood of a moment. Sometimes I decide to use a particular form when I have an idea. I used the form of a Petrarchan sonnet with each line having six syllables recently when I wrote a poem about frustrations in love. I like to create my original forms. “Dancing With the Midnight Lady” is an example of what I call “jazz poetry.” It uses irregular rhythms and occasional rhyme, but does not have a formal structure. I’m afraid I’m not very helpful.
For the aspiring poet, what crucial piece of advice about the craft would you share with your 13 year old self if you had the opportunity to do so? What style(s) would you recommend more folk should explore?
I would tell my younger self to rely on the cliché: Be true to yourself. I would also tell him never be afraid to take chances.
I would urge other people to follow Robert Frost’s advice. Write rhyming poetry because it teaches you discipline.
Could you share with our audience a little more information on your upcoming novels and how they relate to your own experience? Is this something you’ve always wanted to write, but only now feel ‘ready’ to do so?
The first, Gimme Shelter, is based on some of my experiences as a young man in high school and college. It begins at a basketball game. Other chapters focus on a protest march in Washington, D.C., exploration of a wild cave, and a hunt for a missing child. All are based on personal experiences.
The River is based on my career as a journalist in small Indiana towns. The novel is driven by the murder of Madeline O’Neill, a beautiful criminal who is also a mathematical genius. It uses some of the techniques of noir fiction, but is not a detective novel or mystery.
I always wanted to write a novel, but it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I felt ready.
"I would tell my younger self to rely on the cliché: Be true to yourself. I would also tell him never be afraid to take chances."
You’ve had quite the varied career, working as both a journalist for news and sports, and an actor, on both stage and screen. What was something you felt particularly passionate about covering as a journalist, and a stage production you have the fondest memories of?
I loved doing features and covering sports, especially football and volleyball. Probably my fondest memory is of an editorial I wrote in which I encouraged our readers to vote out the entire county council.
My favorite stage production was “Macbeth.” I thought it had the best cast, troupers all, of all the stage productions I was in. I also loved playing Murderer 1 of about six small parts I had. As a nobleman in the final act, I loved charging the stage yelling “Death to the Tyrant!”
In your experience with podcasts and radio plays, has voice acting / performance become another creative outlet for you? Do you plan on exploring this space some more, especially after the success of The Ernie Pyle Experiment?
Yes and yes.
"Probably my fondest memory is of an editorial I wrote in which I encouraged our readers to vote out the entire county council."
What is your favourite on-set story during your time working within independent film circuits?
We did a super-hero film for the 48 Hour film challenge. A company has 48 hours to write and film a short film. The director filmed another actor and me doing a mock fight several times. I told him our performances were okay; he just liked to watch us “fight” and everybody laughed.
The next week, my doctor told me I had heart problems, and, in fact, I had had two heart attacks a few days before filming. That was an interesting time!
When the topic arises, what poet(s) do you often recommend to others, and / or cite as a particularly influential inspiration of yours?
W.B. Yeats, Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakespeare, Rupert Brooke.
In three words or less - what can our readers expect from Dancing with the Midnight Lady & The Season of the Witch?
Beauty and magic.