February Author Spotlight: Mitchell Burke (part 2)

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fear death only when you're dead, and have a thin wallet, there's no such thing as rich poet, cause we're all broken in some way. 

- How To Be A Successful Poet ( The Corner of a Room )

Mitchell Burke's debut poetry collection, The Corner Of The Room, is by far one of the greatest collections of poetry I have ever read. Reminding me of a modern day Bukowski, Mitch's writing is dark and raw and coated with some of the best word play I have ever had the pleasure of holding in my hands. The first few poems in this collection I had to read more than one time to make sure I was understanding what I was reading and to me, that's poetry. Words that make you read slower and think twice. That's how you really get in the moment with the writer and are able to feel what they felt when writing the piece. The Corner of the Room consists of over 300 - front and page - pages of brilliant and emotional poetry, taking you through the highs and lows of life, love, and loss. Mitch writes about a life that is not perfect, easy, or pretty but is the most lived and that, to me, is the most beautiful life one can have. 

In part 2 of the February Author Spotlight, Mitch talks about his debut release and just how much this process and this book means to him.  


No exaggeration, your book blew me away. It felt like i was reading a book written by Charles Bukowski (minus the pervertedness). Your word play is insanely good. When you were writing these pieces did the poems naturally come out the way they were published or did you go back and reword them or edit them to enhance the word play?

Thank you so much, I never thought in a million years I would be compared to such an inspiration of mine. I never go back and edit poems. The authenticity, I feel, diminishes when a poem is revised of content. Of course I go back and fix spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, but for me, as soon as you start tinkering with the content the entire premise of the intent goes away because I can never replicate the emotion in which I was feeling at the exact time I wrote it.

Many of the poems I had to read a few times to make sure I was understanding what you were saying but when I was reading them, I felt like I was in the experience or moment with you. Are your more complex poems exactly what it was like in your mind when you are writing them? An abundance of words with heavy meaning matched with overwhelming emotion?

My more complex pieces are almost a measurement of the boisterous state of my mind during the time of writing. Everything happening in a complex piece is my best way of describing what it going on in my head. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but in the end, the final product is always the summary of an intangible fog that I’m attempting to see through.

Why did you decide to title your collection The Corner of the Room? What other titles were you thinking about and how did you finally choose this one?

There’s two reasons behind why I titled it The Corner of the Room, one of them, I will never tell a soul but the second reason is a two parted reason. The actual corner of a room is a dark and dusty place, a place where things can get lost and never found, but it is also a place where two walls come together and create a shelter for the shitty days. It’s all about perspective.
 

Which poem in the entire collection would you say was the hardest to write? (Whether it be the experience or conveying the moment). Why?

A piece in the book titled “Lost and Found”, I believe. The meaning to the piece is extremely personal and vivid. I wrote this piece about a certain situation that I experienced and physically saw when I was in my late teens that emotionally damaged me, still to this day. I sat on this circumstance for years without telling a soul.

This is the biggest/longest book of poetry I have ever read by an “IG Poet.” (And when I finished it, I was sad it was over!) What made you want to include so much poetry in one book as opposed to breaking it out into multiple books, maybe even a series of them?

The content in this book was written over a span of a few years. None of it was ever meant for a book, I just wrote to write. After some convincing from family and friends, I went for it. When putting it all together I had the idea of separating it but then I realized it would be better to put it all in the same book. For years I went through an extremely specific hell, from loss and abandonment, to severe mental illness and sharp emotional change. Separating the book into a series, I felt would take away from the emotion, experiencing it all at once amplifies relativity.

The poetry in The Corner of the Room are more dark and detailed than what you share on social media? Do you do that on purpose? Share lighter works on IG and save your more in depth ones for bigger projects?

They’re both dark in a different way. I find that I kept the more specific and personal pieces for my first book and left the open-ended ones for social media. My writing style has exponentially evolved over the years, not for better, not for worse, it’s has just changed. I feel, now, I write way more vague than I did in the past because of my change in the perception of poetry. The more vague a piece, the more ends it can be interpreted. I think that’s what the beauty of poetry is, it shows the diversity in us all.

How long did it take for you to put this whole collection together? Was the writing of the poems harder than figuring out the layout and organization of the book or vice versa?

It took roughly about 5-6 years to work up the courage to get this out. The editing process took about a year because of the meticulous and monotony of it all. Writing the poems were hard because it’s like a vacation to a memory with cloudy weather, but the organization was the hardest part. It’s hard to finalize something when you’re never satisfied with your own work.

Describe your publishing journey. Did you self-publish and if so, how did you decide which self publishing platform to use or did you go through a publishing company? If so, did you get approached by them or did you approach the company? 

I saw a couple of my friends and fellow writers using Createspace, a self-publishing outlet. I went in blindfolded and a lot of close friends helped guide me through. I thought self-publishing was the way to go because of my lack of exposure to the business world of writing and I still think that. My second book is already done, and I’m going to self- publish again. I’m super satisfied with where this has gone and taken me.

What is something you wish someone would have told you prior to writing and releasing your first collection? Did anyone in particular show you the ropes to the process or did you figure it out all on your own? Give one piece of advice for someone about to embark on the book writing and publishing process.

I wish someone told me to strap in and buy more coffee. There were so many people that helped me through this, the list would go on forever. If I could give one piece of advice for someone about to get into publishing their first collection I’d have to say to have fun and don’t expect easy. You’re going to be up all night, pulling your hair out and going back and forth form page to page, from front to back but in the end everything is worth it. Few know that I have trashed my manuscript 5 times before submitting it and that’s one of the reasons why it took so long. I regret every time I threw out my manuscript. Never second guess yourself unless you’re second guessing yourself!
 

Do you think having a large following is crucial to have if someone wants to write and release a book? How important do you think it is to have a loyal following before releasing or do you think it’s important to have at all?

To release a book, you have to find the need to do so within yourself first. You should never release a book with the intent of making a buck or getting “famous”. You need to dig deep within yourself and realize the motif before releasing a book. A large following helps, don’t get me wrong, but who’s to say that releasing a book won’t get you a large following afterwards? I think from a business aspect, a following helps, but from a more personal and emotional aspect, if you have 100k or 1 follower, if you wanna release a book, go for it!

If it weren’t for Instagram and social media, do you think you would have ever written and released a book? Or do you think you would just continue to write for fun without sharing your voice with others?

I believe I would have released a book without social media, but definitely not as quick as I would have. Confidence had a huge say in when I released my book and the support shown by the people of the world wouldn't have been there without Instagram. I still write without sharing my voice, I post some pieces online, but I still write for myself, and only for myself. I have notebooks on notebooks and folders full of poetry and prose the world will never see.

Did your following on social media influence you at all when it came to releasing a book? What has been the overall reaction to it by your followers? Have they been supportive of you and throughout the process of writing the collection?

It definitely helped. The support is something I could have never dreamed of. The reaction has been 100% positive and I never expected anything even close to that. I couldn’t ask for a better, more active and appreciative following. The reactions to my book, to my pieces and posts is at times overwhelming in the best way possible.

What was your goal for writing and releasing The Corner of the Room? Did you want to release a book because it was a personal journey of yours, were your followers/supporters asking you for a book, or did you want to release one just to say you did it?

I’ve been undergoing this process for years, long before I even was releasing my work to the public, long before I even has instagram. The goal was basically to get my word out there, share my experiences with the world and let them know that loneliness, when it comes to hardship, is fictitious.

Now that the book is released and people have read it, do you feel your goal was met?

Absolutely, the messages I get every day from people that have read my book is astounding. When I hear that my words have “saved their life” or “helped them write again” I get a feeling in my gut that I have never felt before. It’s the most surreal feeling because I know where they’re at and I know what it feels like to be peeled out of a slump.

What is one thing you will do differently on your next project? What did you learn this time that you would change for the next time around?

I will do a lot differently on my next project, some of which I have in mind already. I plan on going somewhere that no poetry book has gone before. I’m happy with the simplistic aspect to it all, aesthetically; a blank page with a title and a poem, nothing else. What I will change will be shown in the near future!
 

Take us back to the night before your release date. What were you feeling/thinking? Were you excited, anxious, etc.?

The night before my release date was extremely nerve racking. I never experienced this type of anxiousness before; fear and excitement, never before.

Who was the first person you wanted to share this collection with? When you got the first finished copy of the book in your hands - who did you want to share it with? And did you?

My mother. My mom has been here since day one, literally. She has understood every one of my pieces through experience and not sympathy. If it wasn’t for my mother this book would have never been a thing. The first finished copy went to her and she keeps it with her at all times. I can’t say enough for that woman. Nothing that has happened to me with writing would have happened if it wasn’t for her support and love.
 

What is next for you? Do you have plans to write another book or do you have something else in mind?

Of course! Where I’m at right now, I don’t plan on ever stopping. Like I said, my second book is done but it won’t be for a year or so until I release it.

Lastly, what does this book mean to you? What has it taught you about yourself?

This book means the entire world to me. It’s a collection of the darkest parts of my life. This book is physical proof that one can make it through the shittiest lows, alive and breathing. This book taught me that I’m a dark and cynical individual but it’s something I can live with. This book taught me that, to this day, life hasn’t won.


to read The Corner Of The Room 

& follow Mitch on IG at

I want to thank Mitch for not only being so willing to not only let me ask him a million questions but for being so nice and professional about it! Mitch, your book took me to places within my mind and soul that I have never been and I wish you nothing but continued love, happiness, and success in your journey! I can't wait to see what the future holds for you! 

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love & light, 

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