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An Interview with Author Kenneth Weene

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I have always loved words, not just their meanings but also their sounds and rhythms. Now retired, I have time to play with all those dear friends, the little ones, the long ones, the monosyllabic and the poly. I use them to build short stories, novels, essays, plays, and especially poems. Oh yes, my poetry is especially dear to me. I hope it will be to others.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I had been working on a memoiristic collection of poetry for some time. Over the years some particular memory would emerge or other times it might be less a specific reality than a sense of concern, something that niggled at my consciousness. The resulting poems were mostly stored away to go unshared. Then I received an invitation from a publisher; could I send them a collection of my poetry? Could I ever?! Coursing took shape with the voices in my head cheering and singing so loudly that I could hardly hear the faint click of my keyboard as I wrote the last few poems that demanded inclusion.

Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Coursing is composed of two parts. Reliquary, which is the first part, was the originally intended book and title. That name actually emerged from one of the poems and refers to the creation of a “poetic reliquary,” a poetic container of that which is holy in my life. But, when Reliquary was finished, I realized that I needed more, material that would better connect me to the rest of the world, that would make it clear that I live in a world that goes beyond my own head. That led to the second section, Listen to the Bullfrogs Sing, which is again taken from a line in one of the poems.

With my original title now being used, I had to come up with a title that gave meaning to the whole. Coursing offers multiple meanings as in lessons, meals of delectation, and also meandering as a hunter through the landscape. Now, that is my kind of title: full of meanings and still open to the reader to add their own interpretation.

Describe your dream book cover.

I found a photo of the area in Maine where much of Reliquary is set. To me it invites the reader to join me in exploring who I am. So, I think the cover is pretty much my dream.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

In college I started out studying economics and wanted to be a political advisor or lawyer. Then, I discovered psychology and having finished my PhD I both practiced as a clinician and taught. The stress was high enough that I burned out and moved from New York to Arizona. Once in the southwest, I felt free to go back to my childhood dream of writing. My addiction to the process was immediate. I just can’t stop. So even as I ask you to enjoy Coursing, I hope you will look for the new books that are on the way.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I first learned to read because my father wouldn’t explain to me where babies came from. Seriously! I taught myself to read because we had a bunch of medical books that belonged to an uncle stored in our attic. When I had finally learned well enough to try cracking those books, the joke had been on me: they were in German.

Despite that frustration and disappointment, I did love the skill I had gained. I read voraciously. That despite, and this is also true, my parents—especially my father—discouraging me. Years later, when I was teaching college, he commented, “I never met a kid who read so damned much.”

Well, enjoying reading and words naturally led to wanting to write as well. The fact that I spent enormous amounts of time in relative isolation (another story for another time), meant that I had also developed an internal world. Although to be honest there were times that the voices I created did seem more real than imaginary.

Even now, while I do research as needed, especially for my novels or when I help somebody write their memoir, the vast majority of what goes from my fingers to the page is wholly the creation of my inner being. That is not to say that I don’t have some favorite authors whose work I read and reread and whose style I want to emulate; but more important than their influences will always be those pesky voices ringing through the various lobes of my brain.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

Since I write different genre, my perfect reader has to be somebody who just loves language. I urge people to read my material aloud. Don’t let those elementary school teachers get into your head. Words are for hearing. The more a reader relishes the sound of my words, the happier an author I am.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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