what is your name?
how would you describe what you do?
I’m primarily a poet but I’ve been trying to branch out into fiction. I’ve already written one novel, “November Rust” which became available in 2007. I’ve also been writing a lot of articles and essays lately as well. As to what I do, with poetry, at least, I try to write very honestly and I find that “free verse” poetry is the best vehicle for that. I try to use poetry as a vehicle for self-exploration but also try not to make them too personal so that others can’t identify with them. The way I figure it is that if I am feeling a certain way about something, someone else is as well. Pretty much all the poetry I write is “free verse” or prose poetry. It’s less restrictive for me and allows me the maximum amount of freedom I need to express myself.
what are you currently working on?
Currently I am getting together more poems for possible books in the near future. I am also at the beginning stages of my next novel but at the very beginning stages so I have no idea when that will see the light of day. I’ve also been contributing a lot of articles and essays for the website BrooWaha.
what has had the greatest influence on your work?
There are so many things: art, literature, music, politics, social mores, sometimes just random thoughts about something. Lately what’s been influencing my work more and more is the idea of cultural identity and roots, where one comes from and exploring the long historical line that leads to the present day. My roots are Mediterranean and I’ve been exploring that in my most recent work: a Mediterranean identity, culture, history and how that effects me although I was born and raised in America. The realization that these cultural roots do have their effect on you when you really open your eyes to them and how these cultural roots effect your place in American society, especially when the definition of what an “American” is has become so hotly debated as of late.
what is the greatest misconception about you or your work?
I think the biggest misconception about me and my work in general is that it’s full of anger. Sometimes it may be. We all get angry about something at some point in our lives but I don’t find my writing angry at all. Throughout it all there is that eye towards the light, that things can be better and that we should all strive to get there in our own particular way. There may be an element of cynicism in them but how could one not be cynical at times in the world we live in today. There is a difference between being a cynic and being a pessimist. I also don’t trust people who “love” everything. They are just as bad as people who hate everything, since it isn’t realistic. I don’t have much patience for pseudo-optimism. I find it dishonest. The same can be said for those who practice pseudo-pessimism, the reactionaries in life who are critical of literally everything. Both these types are dishonest in my view.
what do you see as the main strengths and weaknesses of the medium you work in?
The main strength I see in poetry is the fact that you have the ability to say a lot with very few words. It can pack a powerful punch if it’s done well and a very well done poem can change how someone may think about something. The major weakness I see in it is that it’s very hard to publish poetry these days. It’s hard to get published in general but poetry is really tough. With the exception of a few people, Americans aren’t all that interested in poetry, not like Latin American cultures or Arab cultures where poetry is a very powerful tool of expression. Poets in these cultures are held in very high regard in their societies. Here? No one seems to have any use for them except for those who love poetry and literature, which is a real shame.
how has technology impacted upon the work you do?
The impact of technology has been enormous. With the internet a writer has a much better chance to reach a lot of people. When I was young and was beginning to write, there wasn’t any internet to speak of so trying to get your work noticed was virtually impossible. With the advent of the internet, blogs, social networking sites, etc, it sort of democratized the field, so to speak. You now have a chance to reach an enormous amount of people whereas 25 years ago you almost had to be published in some renown magazine or publishing house to reach people. Now you can pretty much do that on your own.
what’s the greatest piece of advice you would like to pass on?
The best advice I can give is to always be true to yourself and your vision and not worry about what’s popular or thinking you have to write a certain way in order to appeal to a special clique or “scene”. Also, keep sending your work out there and take advantage of the technology now available and not wait for the hand of approval to deem you legitimate. If that comes along in the process, great, but take advantage of the technology to try to get yourself noticed and read. And mainly: write from the heart. You’ll be amazed how many people will relate to it, even though you may think no one will care.
where can we find you online?
I have a website: www.juliangallo.net. You can also find me at www.myspace.com/juliangallo and I also write a blog called “Desvarío which can be found at www.desvarioblog.blogspot.com . I also have a Facebook page but that’s private so you pretty much won’t see much unless you “friend” me..and I am always open to meeting new and interesting people so feel free to “friend” me there. Actually, I look forward to that. You can also read some of my articles and essays at www.broowaha.com.
what are you reading at the moment?
I just got finished reading “The Olive Tree” by Carol Drinkwater. A fascinating book about the origins of the olive tree throughout the Mediterranean region and her search for the oldest one on earth. Turns out there’s one in Lebanon that is something like 6,000 years old and still producing olives! But the book is also an amazing look at Mediterranean culture from Italy, Spain and North Africa; and now I just begun reading a book called “Sadder Than Water” by Palestinian poet Samih Al-Qasim. Very powerful writing there.
what are you listening to at the moment?
I love all kinds of music but lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Flamenco, Jazz and more recently I discovered the Taranta of southern Italy; a fascinating form of folk music that I used to hear at weddings while growing up but this is the real thing—the genuine, rustic, folk music which has origins going back hundreds of years. You won’t hear this at any Italian weddings any time soon, that’s for sure!
anything else we should know?
Yes, speaking of music, I am also a musician and have been for most of my life. Currently I’ve been playing bass & guitar for New York City singer/songwriter Linda La Porte. We already have one CD out and are currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on her follow up. We’re both looking forward to it and are very excited about it.