Q&A with David Eberhardt, Winner of the 2020 Poetry Contest – Part 2

by Shaileen Beyer, Librarian, Fiction Department

Hooray for David Eberhardt! His poem “After ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and Anton Webern ‘Piano Variations’- Op 27 / Ruhig, fliessend” has won the 2020 Pratt Library Poetry Contest. The Little Patuxent Review judges wrote, “This poem is one part syntactical cybernetic wild ride, and one part orchestral arrangement. Both help readers to hear, see, and critique our experiences of the world.”

Here is part 2 of the Q & A with David Eberhardt.

David Eberhardt

Which writers inspire you?

I like what I call “juicy” word poets- Shakespeare’s lush poetry in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens, also poets that have something to say- many anti war poets- particularly Wilfred Owen and William Stafford. 

Many Baltimore poet friends have inspired me-particularly Clarinda Harris, Chris Mason, Chris George and the late Dino Pantazonis. The list is long of those upon whose shoulders I stand- some outlaws, some academics, poets associated with The Loch Raven Review and Poetry in Baltimore-Alan Reese and Dan Cuddy. I am inspired by mystery novelist Laura Lippman and her husband and all writers of the TV series “The Wire”.

When did you start writing poetry? 

Oberlin College early 60’s. I was co- editor of the “Yeoman” poetry magazine. After 1967 I had more to write about, because that year I poured blood on draft files to protest the Vietnam War. As a result I spent 21 months in federal prison. Finally I had scads to write about.

What’s the best advice about writing you’ve ever received?

From my primary critic, my partner, CP who brooks no nonsense. Her advice is always: Explain and justify, think of your readers and what you are trying to say. (I tend to please myself at all costs.) 

Poets without editors tend to get away with too much.

If you don’t have the genius of an ED- find good mentors and editors and writing salons and groups (even if you have to pay). If all else fails,  put yourself into a great event (for me the Peace Movement). Then you’ll have something to say.

What’s one of your favorite lines of poetry or sentences from a poem? 

Dante Gabriel Rosetti  in the title and haunting beginning of his poem “Sudden Light”: “I have been here before”; Andre Breton’s “Fata Morgana” has a stunning opening: “This morning  the daughter of the mountain holds on her knees an accordion of white bats.”

Beginning of Rimbaud’s “Drunken Boat.”

This poem attributed to George Chapman, although to me it seems much more current as if written by Dylan Thomas or a surrealist.

Many quotes from the Bible I grew up with- especially from, Kings: “and in a still voice, onward came the Lord.”