I inherited my love for poetry and ability to write it from my dad who was an artist and poet but that was only known by his immediate family. He never even tried to get his poems published which were much like Robert Service’s poems in tone and meter.
We kidded him that he wrote his longer poems on toilet paper because he spent so much time in the lavatory, the only place he could find any quite time and not be disturbed. But the truth was he wrote most of his poems while driving on his job as an Interior Decorator.
My big brother got our dad's artistic abilities and made a career out of that as an illustrator whereas I fumbled around for years trying the corporate world and finally giving up that choice to join the hippie movement in 1970, traveling the country by thumb, writing and reading my poetry wherever someone would listen.
My first book, VISIONS OF A MADMAN, sold out in two popular book stores in Palo Alto and Redwood City California where I gave readings. I read at The No Name Bar in Sausalito and at Menlo College for Phil Schultz's (the doctor in Harold and Maude) drama class and both experiences resulted in personal contacts with those in the audiences after the readings.
A young man from Menlo College who bumped into me at a local restaurant and lounge after the reading said, "You don't write poetry" as I was taken aback, "you write emotions? I have always considered that one of my greatest compliments.
But after the reading at the No Name Bar, as I and my best buddy were headed for our car, a VW Bug came roaring down a very steep hill in Sausalito, nearly broad siding us as a young lady whipped her car to a stop, leaned over and rolled down her passenger window, and said, "I turned around and you were gone."
She then invited us to her flat where we sat on the floor, drank tea with honey as she explained that she was getting her doctorate in child psychology and that none of her textbooks had explained the inner thoughts of children as well as I had.
She got the last copy of my book, and I’ve been trying to find another for 40 years with no luck.
Shortly after, a poem of mine, SELF-KNOWLEDGE, was published in a college textbook on Abnormal Psychiatry, as an example of the wrong view on insanity, but since it was likened to the works of Ken Kesey and Kurt Vonnegut's, I wasn't offended.
Years later when I had moved to Portland ME, I worked in the offices of the Maine Sunday Telegram after a hitchhiking trip I made to California in 74 hours which cost my lady and I $4.74 and the last $1.00 was to help our last ride out for gas since he took us directly to our destination, some 60 miles out of his way. Yes, gas was cheaper then.
That trip, during the 1973 rationing of fuel, gave me an idea to write about the possibility of setting up a gas coupon system based on hitchhiking where the hitchhikers bought coupons for a dime to give to the drivers that helped them get where they were going allowing the drivers to buy more gas, 1 coupon for 1 extra gallon of gas but it never took hold since shortly after there was no shortage of fuel.
Then in 1978 while living in Eugene Oregon and went for an afternoon nap, I heard a poem recited, FOR ALL KID'S SAKE, and when I wrote it down, I saw the influence William Blake had on me for it was written like he had written it.
I only added 2 words of mine to that poem, and it was donated to UNICEF's 1979 Year of the Child, Euegen Oregon Chapter, where 40 signed copies brought in $10. apiece as donations. (I'm supposed to be a relative of James Whitcomb Riley, known as the children's poet, but have never had that verified or been able to make the connection although my dad's mom gave me 2 of his books telling me I was).
Later the poem was made into a large illustrated poster for kids to color by Western Graphics Poster company and sold 10,000 nationwide. That brought in almost $1000. to my meager income at that time.
If you are interested in more on my experience when I was nine, you can go to http://godsjoyfulservant.com and read the children's version