Author: James Mirarchi
ISBN: 978-0-557-08431-9

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Today, Chris Phillips, one of Bookpleasures' reviewers interviews, James Mirarchi author of Dervish,  a collection of poems.

According to James Mirarchi's Author's Den site, he states:

“I grew up in Queens, New York. When I was seven years-old, I discovered my first creative outlet: writing. Since many of my stories were influenced by movie imagery, it was inevitable I would pursue film making.
The book that inspired me to write poetry seriously was Gabriel Garcia Marquez's densely lush The Autumn of the Patriarch. This work was an epiphany for me.
Some of my favorite fiction and poetry authors are Gabriel Garcia Marquez, H.P. Lovecraft, Ian McEwan, Arthur Rimbaud, Michael McClure, and Charles Bukowski. In addition to my poetry collections, Venison and Dervish, I have written and directed films. My two shorts, Beer and Art  and Cave People, were well-received and played online and at festivals. I have also penned a feature script - a dark comedy titled Proxy."

Good day James and thank for participating in our interview.


CP – What is your inspiration? It appears to me that you write verse covering a wide and diverse range of topics. Sometimes you seem to be looking in on other people as if through a private window or being that proverbial fly on the wall.

JM – Life and cinema (two opposites) are my main inspirations for my poetry. Sometimes, certain horror films, with their dangerous sexuality and expressionistic mood, will get my creative juices flowing. Other times, a precisely choreographed, color-coded sequence from a movie musical will do it for me. And, still, other times, some emotional introspection will trigger a poem. This latter type of poem will usually be more of a character study than a visual fantasia – and, also, more cathartic.

The basic foundations for many of these works are universal platitudes, identifiable themes and locations, archetypes, clichés …. all dressed up in eccentric clothes. Simplicity made complicated and, sometimes, perverse. Usually, stream of consciousness images will come to me first (and god knows where they come from!) before I actually incorporate the underlying allegory or moral of the poem. 

As for me seeming like I’m viewing my diverse subjects through a private window, I guess this objectivity comes from the fact that I’ve lived in San Francisco and New York all my life and have met some very diverse and (not always in a good way) complicated people. Also, being open to the exotic and seeing unusual films and reading unusual books can expand someone’s creative subconscious and make a writer SEEM more emotionally and spiritually well-travelled than he or she actually is.

CP – Some of your work is very gender specific while other drifts between genders quite easily. How do you achieve that? Do you place yourself in your character's roles? Do the characters speak to you of how they wish to be portrayed?

JM – Maybe the reason my poems drift easily between genders is because I’m in touch with both my masculine and feminine sides?? Honestly, I don’t know. Or maybe my adaptability is a reflection of what I observe in certain other people. Some people are just more chameleonic than others. Also, many men and women share certain traits and ambiguities. It’s not all cut-and-dry – you just have to be open to all the nuances. Not everyone is going to be as unequivocal as Tom Hanks and Jimmy Stewart. Don’t get me wrong, I like these actors, but not everyone can be as SEEMINGLY uncomplicated. Another reason for this adaptability could be that I’m an easily bored writer whose brain won’t sit still, which also explains my predilection for constant thematic and visual variety.

Regarding if my characters speak to me on how they wish to be portrayed - I would say no, I don’t hear voices in my head. I also don’t do drugs and I don’t hallucinate.

CP – I believe that I've seen other work by you. What else do you have published? What are you working on right now?

JM – Back in 2004, I published my first poetry collection titled Venison. Also, my short films Beer and Art and Cave People have played online and at some festivals, including the Athens International Film and Video Festival and The Angelika’s Newfilmmakers Series. They are now compiled on one DVD and are available for purchase through Amazon.com. These shorts are no-budget documentary-like camp in the vein of early John Waters films. 
As far as me currently working on anything - I’m not. When the inspiration comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

CP – I took the liberty of reading some of your work to friends of mine. The one that got the strongest reaction was "Lost." At first I read only the part that begins with "He is still sweet in bed..." Then I finished the poem and read it aloud to them in its entirety. This is where I found the ending stanza and wept. But what I want to know is/are you the character? Is this someone else that you know this well? What prompted you to put together this poem?

JM – “Lost” is probably my most purely poignant work. Where my other poems show sporadic signs of sentimentality within the “darkness” and “weirdness,” this one seems to be my most relatable poem – and least carnivalesque.
I would say there’s some of my former self in this poem but, for the most part, this piece is a character composite.
“Lost” was basically inspired by a sentimental novel I read during my high school years called “A Separate Peace”. The character in my poem is sort of like that novel’s hero, Finny, but given more dimension, more of a troubling edge. I did not want to glorify this character as being completely innocent like Finny, so I added that he had grown into someone “pretentious”, “a freeloader”, a “jerk” … all the result of his “downfall.” I will say that I’m both surprised and very pleased at the positive response the poem has received.

CP – Finally, I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work. When can we, your fans and readers expect the next book?

JM – I’m not sure when I’ll be putting out another book – hopefully, by the end of next year. Sometimes, there is a long creative gestation period and, other times, I can give birth to a poem very quickly. It all depends - my process is very unpredictable.

James Mirarchi may be contacted via his page at Author’s Den.

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