[Note 2: We had an earlier interview at SF Site. This is, in many ways, an extension of that conversation.]
We last spoke in an interview for SF Site 11 years ago. What have you been up to since then, poetry- and non-poetry-wise?
Publishing wise, I've had seven poetry collections and one short story collection see print since the last interview in 2003. The most recent poetry book is "Scenes Along the Zombie Highway", 2013.
I retired in 2008 from the University of California, Davis, where I'd worked for 25 years as a library assistant. I've been writing and publishing more horror poetry over the past few years, and attending World Horror Conventions where I've shared my work with small, but receptive audiences. I’ve also been a finalist for the Stoker, Rhysling and Dwarf Stars awards a number of times. Other than that, my mobile home and car are paid off. My son turns 31 in April. And I still suck at billiards.
How has the field changed during that time?
I'm no expert on the speculative poetry field, but it seems like there's more publishing outlets then before, and definitely more talented poets writing it now. The quality of the poetry has never been better, and I think some of it will pass the test of time. There's still not much crossover of speculative poetry, (and when I say speculative, I mean horror, fantasy, SF poetry) into mainstream publications. Perhaps in time.
Have the changes influenced your own craft?
The changes I mentioned haven't affected my writing that much. My writing style etc. hasn't changed much since my 2009 book, "Strange Vegetables". Content varies, of course. I still tend to write more humorous poems than serious ones. I'm stuck in my ways.
Has your productivity increased with retirement?
To some extent. I find it easier to put together collections, themed or otherwise, with the increased free time. In regards to individual poems or stories, I still write them when the spirit moves me or an idea pops into my head. The stress level is less than when I was working full time, though, which is a plus.
Why zombies? Why zombie poetry? How do you account for the trope's popularity?
Why not? Poetry is open to just about any subject matter you can come up with; animate, inanimate, or undead. Zombie movies and the TV show 'The Walking Dead" have popularized the undead. Zombie poetry is just an extension of the phenomena. There's even an excellent book of zombie haikus out there for those with limited attention spans.