Monday, March 5, 2012

Macabre Poetry: An interview with poet Justin Bienvenue

Tonight I have something a bit different, my first poet interview. It's doubly unusual for me in that the poet, Justin Bienvenue, specializes in poetry about the macabre and horrific. My personal poetry tastes run more toward the 18th- and 19th-century Romantics, but I still find the idea of a poet focusing on horror fascinating.


1) Please tell us about your collection.

The Macabre Masterpiece is a collection of all types and takes on horror. It goes beyond the simple elements of what one could be scared of. Each poem tells an in-depth tale on its subject and either grips, scares or shocks the reader which is in all intended purposes. Each chapter tells of a certain type of horror, but all give that disturbing, gruesome or mysterious aura that makes it so. It’s up and down in terms of scare level. Some have that direct meaning of horror others have a lighter and not friendlier but rather a calmer likeness to it. After all not everyone likes to be totally scared or grossed out. There’s a good amount of both which overall blends in together nicely and gives the book it’s core.

2) What kindled your interest in the darker side of fiction?

I’ve always liked the scary take on writing, but it wasn’t until I really sat down and saw what I had that it interested me. I already had a good share of horror poems I felt I could expand on the topic and it was then that I started seeing more horror books being put out, creepy shows on television, and it really inspired me and made me decide to go into the path of dark horror. Once I had enough material boiling in my brain, I realized it was time to turn to the darkness of fiction if you will, and begin.

3) The public's taste for horror, regardless of the form, seems to wax and wane over the years. Why do you think horror is more popular at some times versus others?

I would say it’s just like any other thing, a trend or phase. Horror is always there, but when someone or something new and innovative regarding it comes out it really catches peoples attention and draws them into it and being totally involved in it. It also depends on what exactly the topic of horror it is, vampires for example have quite a big following which means when they become popular so does the horror genre.

4) Do you have a favorite among the poems?

I have quite a few but I’ll name a favorite for each chapter. “The Rage of Hades" (Hell), “The River of Blood series" (Blood), “Vampires series” (Creatures), “The Portrait of Dorian Gray”(Creepy) and “The Nightwatchman” (Suspense). I like these because they more than most really tell an in-depth tale.

5) Can you share with us why you decided use poetry for your horror work versus prose?

I really only write poetry and I am a big writer of it. Like I said before, I already had some horror poetry so I decided to expand on it but also felt horror poetry would be a good way to go since you really don’t hear much about it. I felt the way I write and my take on horror would come together very nicely, and I believe they do just that.

6) What strengths does poetry offer for horror versus prose? What weaknesses?

Strength-wise I would say you get to take in each line and read beyond what’s being said. It gives you more of an appreciation and anticipates you for each line after. Poetry is mainly written with feeling and there’s no better feeling then being scared. Weakness-wise is the fact that it is poetry. Not everyone is a fan of poetry, which means they may not care for it even if they like horror, but I always say that poetry is just a form to which its written, it still tells a story just in a different way.

7) While many may not instantly associate horror with poetry, there's a long association between poetry and the macabre, including more atmospheric works but less explicit works such as Poe's "The Raven" to some of the moralistic horrific imagery of Hell related in Dante's The Divine Comedy. Do you feel that poetry is currently under-utilized for those interested in producing works of horror?

Absolutely, It’s works like "The Raven" and Dante’s Divine Comedy that make you ask, "What happened?" Where did we go wrong and when did it stop? Poe is one of the, if not the finest, poet of the macabre and yet while he’s known and liked it seems like it stopped with him. People these days seem to go with the obvious clique of let's write a creepy thriller or let's make a movie about it. We’ve seen this done over and over, but yet it's the works of Poe that are some of the best that are in fact poetry. That makes me wonder why don’t we go back to those roots. I feel there needs to be more writers of horror poetry. It's something different for a change, something creative, something that’s really died down and should be revived to add another unique twist on the horror community.

8) Are there any poets who have influenced your work? Are there any authors?

Well continuing on from the last question, Edgar Allen Poe influenced some of the works in the book. I mean if I was going to write macabre who better to be influenced and inspired by then him. In some poems you can see similarities while in others you can’t, but I did get inspiration from him. Also my works are influenced by Shakespeare. This is mainly outside the book, but in the book there are a few Shakespeare-like themes. As for authors, I would have to go with Stephen King. While there aren’t any direct references to King's work in any poem,, but the influence is in there in small ideas and, of course, the gruesome aspects.


Thanks, Justin.

His collection can be purchased at Amazon.

You can hear more from Justin at his website:

1 comment:


Great interview I have one coming the week with author Lance Carbuncle check it out