Meet Billy Lamont - (Part 1)
Billy Lamont is an American multimedia poet and performer, from NY, with an avant-garde approach to writing, music, performance art, politics, and film. He has performed on national television several times, including on MTV and The Joe Franklin Show, toured, and performed with rock festivals such as Lollapalooza, and appeared on major radio stations across the U.S. He has three books of poetry and nine album CD/digital download releases. His latest album, Eulogy: Flowers for the Living, was just released, and his latest book, Words Ripped From A Soul Still Bleeding: Poems for The Future Edition, is available at Barnes And Noble and Amazon as a paperback or as an eBook.
At the heart of his poetry is the passion to inspire hope and to be a voice for everyday people. His unique vision for poetry into the 21st century, combined with a belief in the power of words for creation, reformation, and healing, brought his influence from grassroots to national success in the 1990s, then to international recognition in the new millennium. His work encourages dignity, upholds life, and serves as a catalyst for a world of readers and listeners, both in the mainstream and on society’s fringes. He inspires many to live in a more loving way, to feel for different justice causes for the first time, and to help with personal and social reform in this Global Age.
Lamont’s three major book releases and eight CDs/digital downloads are available through most major distributors such as amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and iTunes.com and can be streamed and listened to on spotify.com, iTunes.apple.com, googleplay.com, youtube.com, tidal.com and many other popular sites.
Did you always enjoy poetry? When did you realize you wanted to be a poet?
Yes, I have always enjoyed poetry even in elementary school when I was writing my first poems in the second grade. Also then reciting and acting out Edgar Alan Poe’s The Raven poem in front of my fourth-grade class with my friend Robert, whose mom made a black cape costume for us so we could pretend to be flying around. LOL! :) I would write stories for my family to act out, and do a weekly action figure story, with a cliffhanger story ending, for my brother Bob as a child, but the desire to be a poet came later.
How did you get started as a poet?
I wrote my first real poem as I had inspiration during a church service at St. Joseph’s Church, in Babylon NY, when I was fourteen years old. I would then write rock lyrics and more poetry as a teenager, and I also took a poetry course in high school. I was very close with my Nana – Mary Amoreno – and when I was a teenager she passed on into eternity. I wrote her a poem that ended up getting published locally in The Beacon Newspaper, in Babylon. When attending college my poetry and rock lyrics would get published in the college newspapers and were very well received. To my surprise, I had a following even amongst some college professors.
When I was in my first alternative rock band, Walk On Water, I started creatively incorporating my poetry, as well as singing my song lyrics. My first time reading three poems publicly was at an open mic at Northport Library, in NY. Then I went to the east village in NYC looking for a gig and was thrilled to get my first full solo poetry reading in a loft on St. Marks Place. It was at a homeless person dinner at the Center For Understanding. They liked it so much that they were kind enough to let me use the entire loft space another day soon after to do a full poetry reading, with guitarist Bill Poulos accompanying me. This was all a part of me getting started as a poet.
How long did it take to write and publish your first book of poems?
Shortly after performing in Greenwich Village, I put together a chapbook (a small paperback booklet, typically containing poems or fiction) of poetry (24 pages) called, Eulogy: Flowers For The Living, and sold it on consignment in independent bookstores in the Northeast U.S. This combined with my live performances made enough of a buzz that I appeared on the nationally syndicated television show The Joe Franklin Show. The Joe Franklin interview and performance went well and helped support other national exposure that I had previously. Due to the kindness and friendship of Monsignor Tom Hartman, and his faith in me, I was invited to appear on his nationally syndicated Religion And Rock show, recorded at WBAB in Babylon close to where I lived and grew up. The music from my band, Walk On Water, was featured on the show.
After performing my poetry at several venues, I gathered and wrote poems for my first book, The Gallery Of Light. By GOD’s grace and timing an opportunity arose for me to have this book published
Many aspiring authors and poets struggle to find representation. How did you first get published? Did you face any rejection? If so, tell us about how you overcame that.
Yes, I worked and struggled to find representation and faced lots of rejection. I also turned down, sometimes wisely and other times perhaps unwisely, professional representation, and other huge exposure opportunities, because my vision was to keep what I considered my sacred pop art, pure and innovative. All this led to lots of controversy and rejection.
For example, sometimes I was considered too spiritual or too Christian for some artistic subcultures or popular audiences. To others, I was too inventive, or pioneering, or activist for their Christian audiences liking. Being on a non-conventional path of believing in GOD, and knowing who I am, led to some of the greatest loving people, moments of spirituality, and artistic accomplishments. This connected me to my audience, and artistically inspiring friends, and some artist icons that appreciated what I did and who I am. All this faith in GOD, and being grounded as a person, living by love, and working on growing as a person and artist every day, helped me overcome any rejections.
Where do you get the inspiration for your poems?
My inspiration comes through the intimacy of prayer, and my love for GOD, JESUS, and THE HOLY SPIRIT. With simple prayer comes inspiration, reflection, contemplation, on the HOLY BIBLE, art, music, books, nature, conversations, people’s lives, cultures, subcultures, beliefs past and present, my everyday life, and all life. There is a lot to be inspired by! :)
Describe your writing process. Do you have a set spot where you get your best work done? Do you write every day or strike when you get the spark of an idea?
I do my best to honor inspiration in myself as it happens. When it does, I try to find a safe or quiet space to write things down. Sometimes this is a park or beach. Sometimes I’ve found myself in a sort of survival mode. So, I would write down inspiration on a scrap of paper at a traffic light while driving, or while working, wherever I am. I realized when I didn’t do this I wouldn’t remember and I’d lose the idea, or flow of inspiration in that electrified moment.
I let inspiration flow and don’t judge whether it’s good or bad in that moment. Later, I can reflect on it at a café, and edit or finish a poem. It helps now that I have a home of my own since August, that includes a nice space and atmosphere, where I can write as inspiration arrives in my busy schedule. This has been very helpful to me in being productive. But I should also add when inspiration strikes it can be anywhere including not in a safe or appropriate place. So. I try to remember it, or the words, until I can get to an appropriate place and steal a moment to write it down. :) I would like to move towards writing or editing my writing/creative projects every day or more regularly in the future.
Is research ever a part of your writing process?
Yes. Sometimes I am inspired with a subject that I have already been interested in, and have researched, or I dive deeper to research for a poem. I used to go to the library to do research, reference past conversation for information and suggestions, and I used handout literature too. Now with the internet, research is a lot easier and at my fingertips most of the time.
Can you guide us through the stages of writing one of your poems?
Yes. It can sometimes be different but most of the time a wave of inspiration arrives. I jot it down and let it flow within the time I have. I don’t judge it or put expectations on it. When I was younger and having a lot of first success, I would get writer’s block from placing my own expectations on my poems as well as those from fans and businesspeople. I thought this was quality control but then I learned to just let it flow.
Later I go through an editing process and think, what is this inspiration? Free verse, traditional poetry, a song? I decide if it should be edited or added to with new inspiration. I feel and tell aspiring poets that poetry is what you want to say and how you want to say it. It can be traditional closed-form, non-traditional open-form, or your newly created form. For example, I create new sonnet, haiku, villanelle, proverb, shaped poetry forms and other forms all the time. :) So, you can be free with it. We need our own distinct voice and soul in this age of artificial intelligence and propaganda.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
No. I enjoy having coffee and people-watching as inspiration or doing inspired editing. I can get lost in inspiration or writing for long periods, or in a recording studio when I allow myself to. Sometimes I get inspired by my surroundings or what is happening in my surroundings. Sometimes not. Sometimes I choose to include another person in my creative process as a collaborator. Many times, I try to shake up or recreate my writing habits, so it stays real and doesn’t become a formula. The elements, rules, and formulas for poetry, writing, music, and all art forms are good to know but are also made to be broken. Soulfulness can be lost to process or the letter of the law. So, structure can bring craftsmanship, discipline, and skillfulness when the breath of spirit and liberty is breathed into it, or it can be limiting. The essence or juice of the soulfulness of poetry is dependent upon how the structure and rules are applied to a particular poem.
What poets, if any, have inspired you?
William Blake, Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whitman, Dylan Thomas, Daniel Berrigan, Arthur Rimbaud, Dante, E.E. Cummings, King David, Maya Angelou, Bob Holman, Oscar Wilde, Jack Kerouac, William Shakespeare, Charles Bukowski, C.S. Lewis to name a few. Also, rock poets like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Bono of U2, Mike Peters of The Alarm, Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil, Joe Strummer of The Clash, Patti Smith, Jim Carroll, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, and Leonard Cohen. I’m also inspired by hip-hop poets Public Enemy, Nas, Wu Tang Clan, Lauryn Hill, Eminem, Damian Marley, Mos Def, Taleb Kweli, Kayne West, Larry Norman, and Kendrick Lamar.
What inspired the powerful title, Words Ripped from a Soul Still Bleeding?
My poems come from the deepest part of myself. It feels like from my gut, my essence, and spirit. It feels like my poems flow within me like my life blood. I believe blood is precious. So, I don’t use the word and image of blood in the way that many in entertainment use it in a cheap, gory way. I use bleeding and blood as an image in the title because blood is precious to me, whether it is our life blood, the precious redeeming seven places JESUS shed his blood, or the blood of our family line.
There is an intimacy I feel in the sharing of my poetry with the reader that I believe is represented in the book title. I feel with the breaking down of the fourth wall, and making myself vulnerable in this book, it is like I am bleeding light as I am becoming transparent. Even if some darkness comes out with the light, I feel that is also healthy because when it is revealed in transparency, the light of healing can also be shined upon it. Leonard Cohen has a line from one of his songs that says “there is a crack in everything GOD made, that’s how the light gets in.” I feel sort of like that except in this book I feel the cracks are letting the light bleed out of me in words for the reader.
The titles of your other books are interesting as well. What comes first for you, the titles, or the compilation of poems? Do you have a theme in mind ahead of time?
Thank You. Most of the time I have a theme or title ahead of time, and I gather and write poems within that theme. Other times I gather some of my latest poems and see if a theme reveals itself or leads me to a new theme idea. Most of the time my books of poems and book themes feel like they naturally write themselves.
In the meantime, to learn more about Billy Lamont or to purchase his books or music, visit:
Official Website: http://billylamont.net/
Poet Billy Lamont Facebook: http://facebook.com/poet.lamont
Billy Lamont Facebook: http://facebook.com/Billy-Lamont
Poet Billy Lamont Instagram: http://instagram.com/poetbillylamont
Poet Billy Lamont Twitter: http://twitter.com/poetbillylamont
Poet Billy Lamont/The Other Perspective Management YouTube channel: sage777billy
Email at The Other Perspective Media: TOPm777@gmail.com