Elmo Shade is the author of four poetry collections, his latest being The Dark Side of White Bread: Surviving Our Fathers – A Poetry Chapbook, 2023. His work has been published in The SubjectivJournal, Nine Cloud Journal, and The Pointed Circle, a literary magazine of Portland Community College. Elmo is the Founder of the Camas (WA) Poetry Open Mic and is a certified Mindfulness Teacher Professional recognized by the International Mindfulness Teacher Association. He is an unabashed fan of Double IPAs, Opus-X Cigars, and Rush.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
I was actually having dinner with one of my best friends and I mentioned I had yet to make a decision on the poetry book title. He responded by saying, “If I ever publish a book, it will be titled The Darker Side of White Bread.” Bingo! He received credit for his spontaneous comment.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
The book cover by Ronaldo Alves is without a doubt the BEST cover of my four poetry collections. He submitted three options from the suggestion of using nothing but black & white + my signature logo, a crane standing on one leg, and his idea of using lowercase became the finishing touch. There is little to compare with holding a published book in your own hands.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
My late wife was diagnosed with liver cancer in September 2015. She died six weeks later. The final poem in Standing On One Leg: Poems of Love, Loss, & the Spaces Inbetween is the only poem written while she was still living. I ordered Rilke’s The Book of Hours and after reading it several times, it became my inspiration to continue to heal from grief and to continue to write.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
I have been fortunate to have worked in four completely different careers—municipal government, air travel, banking, and healthcare—before starting my own sole proprietorship in 2011. My sole proprietorship, Mindful Foundations, focused on Mindfulness Education & Executive Coaching.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
Re-writing family history and reflecting upon how I have moved past anger and resentment to letting go of any need to have a better past.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
Holocene & Re: Stacks – Bon Iver
New World Man & Tom Sawyer – Rush
Closer to Home –Grand Funk Railroad
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
Not sure there is a perfect reader, only a curious one. The chapbook was written cathartically— healing from trauma requires experiencing the same trauma in a safe environment. Writing The Dark Side of White Bread became my safe environment. That is my wish for the reader.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I am currently working with my poetry coach to compile a complete work of short poems, e.g. 4-8 lines each.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
AP has published two of my four collections (the first two were self-published). My experience has been, as with any business relationship, “You get what you pay for.” I would recommend AP to any writer/poet who desires quality work, professional staff, and timely results.