Tuesday, 19 October 2010

One Stop Spotlight - Steven Marty Grant

Strong, honest, touching, sometimes harsh and disaffected, sometimes very gentle but always to the point and passionate. These are some words, I would describe Steven's poetry with. Unblurred, evocative and with an eye for what's going on inside and around him. It's never shallow and never soft-focused - but very real and heartfelt  - it touches - and that's why I love to read Steven's poetry!

Make sure to check out his poetry blog "Urbanality" to read more of his fantastic work
..and here's what he has written for us...enjoy..

~ Claudia

"Manhattan Progression"


Silence and darkness
never take Manhattan
but at 3:30 Monday
morning they stake
a claim on the island
and brace for attack.

Portland, fly ash, slag
and aggregate groan
and weep in the shadows
above carbon arc
and incandescence.

The wounds inflicted
by decades of Checker
and Crown Vic abuse
have a moment to heal
and sometimes
in those lonely hours
you can even dream.


The tenuous stillness
of fragile dawn is eroded
by the tin horns of steel cattle
as they herd through the tunnels.

The Midtown, Battery
Holland and Lincoln
belch rubber and chrome,
and foul the unruffled
air of daybreak.

The city’s veins
course, and crisscross
with Pullman cars
and the pressures rise
along with the sun.

Hundred year old bridges
sag under the weight
of Detroit and Tokyo wheels
and disillusion
takes the place of dreams. 


Subway steps erupt
with molten commuters

that bubble up
and out across the city.

The irresistible flow
washes over the cars
and buses locked
in their cross town crawl.

Soft associations
form and disband
at every intersection
then resume
their persistent crush.

A symphony of whistles,
horns and profanity
shakes the air and
reverberates off
the canyon walls.

Motion accelerates
and overwhelms
the asphalt maze,
an indistinguishable
blur of primary colors,
‘til all that remains
are the agile nightmares
of midday Manhattan.

© Steven Marty Grant 

I asked Steven to tell us a bit about his background, why he writes, when he started writing, what he hates and loves about it - and he tells us quite a bit. Didn't want to edit it down though because I think it's great to read someone's poems and know something about the man behind the pen...

I started writing about three decades ago when I was heavily involved in music. I was a touring sound technician and I started to work with some of the band members writing song lyrics. Eventually I began to perform both as a drummer and a singer and I continued to compose lyrics. When I realized that I was never going to make a living wearing spandex, I switched over to designing, selling and installing custom high-end audio systems. It was a great job and it took most of my time so writing took a back seat for the next few years until at the ripe old age of 27 I decided to attend college. It was in school that my addiction began to take its current form.

In college I was exposed to new and exciting forms of poetry and wonderful books that had a profound impact on me. I took my first creative writing class as a sophomore and my professor was very encouraging. She suggested that I should submit some of my work to various publications and, surprisingly, I got accepted and published several times early on. Bukowski said that “an early taste of death is not necessarily a bad thing” but I found that an early taste of success was a very bad thing for me. I began to have serious doubts about my ability as a poet and assumed my early acceptance was just luck. Not wanting to have that fear confirmed I quit submitting and finally quit writing.

It was not until I divorced in the late nineties that I began to write again. The confusion and sadness that accompanied that event in my life forced me back to the pen (it was actually a pen). I found that emotions that were difficult to express to friends and family could be written about metaphorically and processed. My first book (Another Hotel Room) contains a sampling of things I wrote during this period. It is not my best work but it is the most real and heartfelt.

  • I write because I have to write, it is how I interact with my emotions. I love music and I am trying to make my readers feel like I do when I listen to Springsteen, STP, REM or Simon and Garfunkel.
  • I really hate editing what I have written, I am a little bit of a perfectionist and I have a very hard time saying “okay this one is finished”
  • I love to find the perfect words, the ideal metaphor; I love it when I can capture the emotion I am feeling in a few lines.
  • My new book is about 2/3’s done and publisher is pushing me hard. I have not settled on a title at this time but I am leaning towards “An Unfair Wind”. and it should be ready by early next year.
  • My work has been published in: The Writer, Spring Harvest, Notes Magazine, The Ampersand (&) Review, The Melancholy Dane, The VVC Drama & English Journal. I have also been published online at: Vivid, Sleep Snort Fuck, Drink This Cola and of course my poetry blog Urbanality.


moondustwriter said...

I met Steven on Twitter when I first started in this crazy cyber world (just a year ago.)He has been a great encouragement. I'm thrilled to see that once poetry was in his veins he couldn't stop the flow.

I've met many(including myself) who haven't written poetry for years and for some reason came back to it. If you have to take a break from writing poetry, know it will always have a pull on your soul.

Thanks Claudia for a great feature

steveroni said...

Writing poetry for me is still noting more than a longing.

Yet, at this ripe age, I enjoy and admire others who do it so well--observing the human or animal condition, then setting it down for posterity.

To a lesser extent, I find release and fun in writing a bit, because I don't take it (my own!) too seriously.

Claudia, thank you for passing on what you know so well. Yes, I went to Steven's poem, and find him awesome!

Steve E

Brian Miller said...

nice. i def like SMGs work....i totally get #1 as it is me exactly...great verse too...loving hte images it pulls from my head...

Christine said...

This is a brilliantly written descriptive piece. The imagery is amazing.

Claudia said...

i have never been in new york but this poem describes this "manhattan progression" so vividly that i almost hear the trains rattle and smell the after shave of the commuters..
some of my favorite lines are...
A symphony of whistles,
horns and profanity shakes the air...and
...The tenuous stillness
of fragile dawn is eroded
by the tin horns...

as a musician i also love the musical structure..the building up..the crescendo...great poem - thank you so much steven!!

signed...bkm said...

Thank you so much Claudia for highlighting Steven. Love reading about what makes up the character of the writer as much as the writing.

Congrat's to Steven for being highlighted here st One Stop...looking forward to reading more of your works...bkm

Maureen said...

Steven is a wonderful poet. Thank you for showcasing him and allowing him a few words about himself. I wish him much continued success.

dustus said...

Steven has a keen poetic sense and composes perceptive, inventive lines. Appreciate you not editing down Steven's commentary, Claudia. (very nice job) Quite an amazing, heartfelt writing journey SMG shares!

Liza said...

The 2nd stanza of Quiescence...wow!!!
I'm a fan!
I love the Bukowski quote btw.
Great feature Claudia!

Anonymous said...

Actually when I first started posting poetry along twitter,(and before I truly discovered what an "RT" was I noticed some posts repeated, lol, by none other than a another writer I knew nothing of! Yep sure was Steven!) I had no clue how to thank when it was first realized (I think a bit lost in the technology being old school myself) =) So thank you Steven!!! ~Fantastic work which I'm very impressed in. Descript of lifestyles with no set boundaries to express, hardened or otherwise. Truly a great poet! Thanks Claudia excellent Spotlight! =) ~April

Pete Marshall said...

a great spotlight and i echo betweenhearts comments...he is also a great twitter friend and supporter...heck and a damn good poet...cheers both steve and claudia for this post

Shell said...

This is the New York I know and love...It's real and it's raw and you have captured the essence of this incredible city with perfect clarity, words and imagery. As for NYC at 3:30 am...well, I also know and love that quiet time...the anticipation of the hours ahead when the city comes to life.

Great post...a pleasure to meet you.


UrbanPoet said...

This is a genius write. I feel, smell and hear the city. Chaos - my fav stanza: Subway steps erupt /with molten commuters
/that bubble up /and out across the city.
Great imagery and word play. Have re-read three times to just enjoy it again. Thanks for sharing