6 Things with Dave O'Leary, author of "I Hear Your Music Playing Night and Day"
"I Hear Your Music Playing Night and Day" is a book of poetry and short prose about the musical life and the lost words of youth, about the places where love might be found or misplaced and dreams not quite made and celebrity encounters and being short on funds and the necessity of bus rides and bus stops and homes and the small moments that resonate and, of course, cats.
Dave O'Leary is a writer and musician in Seattle. He's published two novels and has been featured in, among others, the Daily Drunk, Sledgehammer Lit, and Reflex Fiction. His collection of poetry and prose—I Hear Your Music Playing Night and Day—was published in May 2021 by Cajun Mutt Press.
When not writing he is usually playing guitar or bass, sometimes in the basement, sometimes in the backyard, sometimes down at the local pub where he met his wife. He lived in South Korea for eight years teaching English and travelling when time and money allowed and where for a spell he owned a recording studio and partnered with a Korean publishing company to add sound effects and music to English audio books for children. Online he can be found on Twitter and Instagram. More info about his writing and music resides on his website: http://daveoleary.net
So Dave, tell us a bit about your collection. What are six things that went into the writing of this book?
Coffee. I write at 4 in the morning.
Guitar. There are a lot of musical moments in the book and I often pluck the strings between poems.
People watching. There is a fair amount of foot traffic on our street and some pieces were indeed inspired by watching what happens out there.
Ideas of home and homelessness from personal experience and the people we see living in their cars in the street.
Dreams not quite achieved or long since discarded and remembered in moments of quiet.
Five things you need for a good writing day?
Quiet time. I used to write in bars and coffee shops, but these days I need quiet, early morning quiet preferred.
My cluttered workspace. I don’t like it when my desk is too clean. I need printed drafts with coffee stains, guitar picks, books, CDs, pens, scribbled notes on wrinkled sheets of paper.
Time. Maybe that’s obvious, but I can't do 15 minutes here and ten minutes there. My brain needs time to transition into writing mode.
Bookshelves. I like to stare at the books from my desk or go stand in front of them, sometimes reading bits, sometimes just absorbing inspiration.
Coffee, early am, so good that first cup while reading a draft of a new poem.
Four types of readers who will enjoy this book?
Before my first book came out the publisher asked me who my target audience was, and my first thought was, "Uh, people who read?" It’s always been a hard question for me, but thinking about it in relation to this book, I’ll say the following
People who have had minor successes while pursuing their artistic dreams, especially those who continue that pursuit.
People who have never quite settled or who only found their place late in life.
Awkward people who often feel their interactions with others never quite turn out as desired.
People who have lost things or had their dreams swept away but still believe in themselves.
Three challenges you faced in the writing of this book?
Getting back into poetry and short prose. My first two books were novels so it was often a challenge to limit myself, and even then my poems are often on the long side and more narrative in nature.
Rejections. It can drain the confidence when sending out a piece and having it rejected multiple times, but then when it gets accepted, all that goes away.
Organization of the collection. It changed quite a bit over time, and while it doesn’t tell a story, there is a progression throughout. Eventually it wound up in four sections like four individual but related chapbooks.
Two writers/poets that have influenced your work in general?
Kim Addonizio. Love her stuff, but somehow I only discovered her a couple years ago. Just shows you how many great writers there are and that it’s often easy to miss them.
Virgina Woolf. Her writing is still the standard to me and what makes me not just want to tell a good story but to write it with beautiful prose.
One word to describe this collection OR One thing you hope readers will get from this book?
I would hope that readers get the idea of perseverance. Life never turns out as wanted or planned (or rarely so) but we keep going, we keep trying to do new and wonderful things.
"I Hear Your Music Playing Night and Day" is available in on Amazon. You can connect with Dave on Twitter and Instagram, or via his website http://daveoleary.net
Disclaimer: "EMC's 6 things" interview series seeks to promote the artist and their featured writing and is in no way an endorsement of any of said artist's services, opinions or other work outside of this feature.