Sunday, August 9, 2009

Feature: Mike Finley Day 1

It is our pleasure to present to you this week's feature, Mike Finley. I'm just getting to know Mike through facebook and as time permits, becoming more familiar with his writing through his website. I was delighted and flattered to be introduced to his writing through his submissions to the site.

If you look around, you will find Mike is a prolific and accomplished author who wears many hats. He has held the title of poet, writer, ghostwriter, web writer, memoirist, humorist, columnist, reporter, editor, writing coach, etc... He is the recipient of many awards, one of which is the Pushcart Prize for Writing, Pushcart Press, 1985.

We think you will be pleased with his offerings this week as well as delightfully entertained.

Welcome to *Mnemosyne*, Mike! It is our honor to have you as a feature this week.

--- Jen

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Cartes Postales

This is just to say
I bought the most beautiful cards
On my trip with Rachel
Pictures of the Roman theater
And the lighthouse in the proud harbor

But I was only gone three weeks
And the first week I was too confused
And the second week I never saw the Poste
And the third week I thought, hell
I'll beat the postcards home

One day I saw in the rearview mirror
The ancient city of Carcassone
Squatting on a hilltop like a soft turban
My eyes beheld the glory
Thinking of you

Artwork and Poetry © Mike Finley

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Interview Question:

Where does inspiration come from?


Let me answer this very practically. You seldom “feel” inspiration. Writing is about putting yourself in harm's way. You commit to the idea, not having squat to start with. No ideas. No muse. No nuthin.

First drafts suck. You have to forgive them for doing this. I believe the “inspiration” often takes flight when you are immersed in 2nd and 3rd draft stages. This is when you enter flow state, and great things happen. And you don't even know it then. It is like waking up, and all your work has been done overnight.

But the trick is to get to these later drafts. That means humility… looking at dumb chickenscrawls… pretentious starts… hi-falutin stupidity.

Be patient. There is a pony in the poop. Work it, and let it work you.

And every now and then, wad something up and throw it away. Your posthumous library will thank you.


  1. Ya mean, "Keep on truckin'?"? This IS an inspiration.

  2. this is excellant timing who just made a voice tape for the email to send to what and it will not let me save the file or send it its an exe file and we use gmail i hope she gets it that its the thought thats counts

  3. I just wanna say thank you to Jen for her warm welcome. Mnemosyne is wonderfully designed, and she has created a great hub for people who like having fun with their heads. I have told all my friends about the place and I hope others pass the word as well, and help Jen make this a big success!

  4. Thanks Mike!I enjoy your writing very much and am pleased to be able to share it with our readers.

    We (Chris and I) are very grateful for your support! :-)

  5. Excellent poem and post!

    I have a heck of a time wadding up anything and throwing it away. Of course this means my journals include plenty of crap. Fortunately, I've been able to revisit some turds as much as 20 years later and find a bit of a pony in them. Most seem irredeemable - but I'm optimistic that maybe in another twenty years....

  6. I just realize I hadn't commented here and thought I had yesterday.. Golly.

    I love the poem.. rich imagery for me.

    But I especially appreciate your thoughts on writing.. I obviously do not employ the trash bin often enough. nor do I re-write enough. I think I often stop when the real work has just begun from the sounds of it.

    I'm learning gradually to be more persistent. I guess for me, and the amount of experience I have, which is far, far less than you Mike. I'm coming to realize writing is a learn-a- you-go process. Both with regard to myself and my writing.

  7. It was easier to throw stuff away in the 70s when i got going. You used typewriters, and all it took was one goof on a page to make it unsubmittable ... so millions of poems went straight to trash ... probably a blessing, on balance.

    In those days I would barricade myself in my room and type like a nut for six or seven hours at a stretch. I knew other writers doing the same thing, trying to have some kind of breakthrough. And then feeding the pages to the fire at the end of the day.

    Bear in mind this was surrealism, so nothing precious (by definition) could be lost. Surrealism is a good way to break in, because so little is at stake.

    I think poets benefit from writing lots of prose, because it teaches clean lines, clarity, and coherence. And it sidesteps the whole problem of the poem being some special shit.

    And ... wait for it ... people don't mind reading it, don't feel they are getting punked by line breaks and weird punk-tuation.

    What I really like about a lot of poetry being written today is that it is in everyday English -- and there is a learned suspicion of the flowerier notions of poetry.

  8. Mike,

    Your thoughts on writing seem like an x-ray -- getting straight to the bones. Not only the topic is revealed clearly (because of your experience) but you also express things crisply and open-eyed. Your prose communicates very well.

    The poem also has the attribute of clarity, even if our protagonist is confused. Your last stanza has an effect on me that I can't describe very well. It jumps out from the previous sections and into some intense, heart-piercing moment. One of those rare times when the dross of existence is cut through to something essential, tearfully so.