A CHAT WITH
The Author of the Poems & Thoughts Book Series
|“When my mood is taken over by poetry, everything is poetry. I’m starting to look at the old complex equations I used to solve, as a poetic sequence of numbers. There is indeed poetry in numbers and in the way they describe nature. For Pythagoras numbers were the very essence of existence.”|
ALM: We know that, as an author, you prefer to use your pen name Pierre Sotér and keep your true identity a secret for now. Tell us a bit about Pierre Sotér, a poet, your artistic philosophy, and how many poems you have written.
PS: Heraclitus reminds us that “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” At one point in my life I decided to adventure in the forests around the river and when I came back the river looked rather different, and I tried another boat. The boat of poetry. It’s a passionate boat that likes to speed through dire straits. But so do I. In my teenage years I wrote a few poems that I may never find again. But while I’m letting this new boat steer my voyage, I’m writing about what I’ve seen and about what I see with my eyes and my soul wide open. One way or another, I wrote so far almost 700 poems. But I don’t have the slightest idea when this river will reach the sea and I don’t know if I will be able to write in the rough sway of high waves.
ALM: Do you remember what was your first ever poem about and when did you write it?
PS: The very first poem I wrote inside this new boat, is a small poem called “Without a Clue”, which is included in my first book, Dawn. It is an attempt to compress in 12 short lines the history of philosophy. A crazy idea. And I can see that I bluntly disrespected the advice of Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” But poetry can do some magic. I only tried.
ALM: Why do you write poetry? Why is the poetry a literary form of your choice and have you ever think of writing a prose?
PS: When my mood is taken over by poetry, everything is poetry. I’m starting to look at the old complex equations I used to solve, as a poetic sequence of numbers. There is indeed poetry in numbers and in the way they describe nature. For Pythagoras numbers were the very essence of existence. And the universal irrational constant 2.71828182845904523536028747… is simply everywhere. So, in a way, I’ve been writing poetry all my life. And if I follow this line of thought I will arrive to the conclusion that prose is just another form of poetry. Still, I don’t know if I will ever write prose. Only if I will have an idea that I believe is good enough to write about, and interesting enough for others to read.
ALM: What is the title of your latest poem and what inspired it?
PS: It’s a poem I just wrote about the devil. He is taking the life of my best friend.
ALM: How long it took you to write your latest poem and how fast do you write?
PS: This one has been written out of rage. Therefore it took just a few minutes. But for me, to write a poem can take anything from a few minutes to many long days. In the process, some are sent to the garbage can and others are given a second chance. But those are normally the poems I write myself. The ones that write themselves I don’t dare to change. And they are the ones I like best.
ALM: Do you have any unusual writing habits?
PS: I don’t know if my writing habits are so different from other writers. I guess not. Basically, when I feel like writing, I write anywhere. But, I like to read at night, as I believe many people do, and since I always wake up in the middle of it, I had to find a pleasant way to avoid staring at the ceiling. Thus, I write poetry in dim light. That’s my favorite way and time to write. And gives me plenty of free time during day, if I’m not sleeping.
ALM: You are a Portuguese native, but you write in English, Portuguese, and French. How you decide in which language you will write and do you have any preferences about the language used when it comes to poetic expressions?
PS: This is really a difficult question. First, the easier part. French is the first foreign language I learned. It has been with me since my childhood. And I like a lot to read French poetry. Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, for example. And in fact, the first sonnets I tried to write were in French. But it’s also the language I have more difficulties to write in, as I no longer use it daily. Portuguese is my mother language, and in our mother language words are always more plastic and camaleonic. This is the only “advantage” I feel when I write in Portuguese. But until now I’ve been writing mostly in English, may be because English is the language that surrounds me most of the time. And I find much more to read in English than in any other language. I also read Spanish and make some incursions into Danish.
ALM: Is it poetry or writing the only form of artistic expression that you utilize, or there is more to Pierre Sotér than just a poetry?
PS: Our minds have not been made for any specific type of knowledge or practice, otherwise we would be robots. I have and always had different interests in my life. Sometimes they complement each other, sometimes they are an escape from each other. Now I’m mostly playing and fighting with words. If the devil doesn’t defeat me, I like to think that one day I will be a shepherd. And the thing I mostly regret is that I don’t have enough skills to play music. So I listen more to music than I ever made calculations or wrote. And I cannot make paintings nor sculptures, which is also a shame. So I look at them. Photography is also a form of art for me. There I take some revenge.
ALM: What authors or poets have influenced you?
PS: In my childhood and teenage years, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne took me on many adventures. Then I jumped almost directly into science fiction, where I found fantastic worlds and stories by authors like H. G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert. The classics came later, slowly substituting for my readings of the theories of GaliIeo, Pascal, Euler, Newton, Adam Smith, Einstein and the like. And the classical world is so vast and fantastic that any attempt to choose is a trap. But I won’t avoid it. Sophocles, Dante, Camões, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Kierkegaard. Those are my favorites. So far.
ALM: As an author and poet what are you working on now?
PS: My first book of poetry and thoughts, DAWN, has just been released by Adelaide Books. This book has an approach and format that I will use for my next works. Drawing mostly from the poems I’ve been writing lately, I’m working on my next two poetry books that will be released till the end of next year.
ALM: In your opinion, what is the best way when it comes to promoting poetry? Did you ever think about the profile of your readers? What do you think – who reads Pierre Sotér?
PS: I will try to answer this question starting at the end. My life experience and original brain wiring led to a moderately skeptical way of being, that treats data and logic with the same deference, and leaves an important space for intuition, emotions and faith. But above all, data, logic, intuition, emotions and faith have to be true and fair. So, people that identify with these principles and can discuss anything without any preconceived idea, and can change their views and opinions if evidence is provided by data, logic, intuition, emotions and faith, they may find some interest in reading my poetry. I would add to this that poetry, for me, belongs to the domain where words are free to mean what they want, in the logic that nature uses to minimize energy. Do more, spending less. Say more, writing less. Now to the difficult part of the question. I don’t know what should be the best way of promoting poetry as a whole. Maybe it’s good for our mental health. I hope. The only general rule I can think of is that what any poet writes should be written in a way that after reading a poem for the first time, the reader needs to read it again. A bit like music. Beauty and rhythm that take over our nervous system. And hopefully delivers a message. There are many poems that I read hundreds of times, and some became a part of my feelings. Poetry has to reach deep into our minds and souls. I simply don’t consider as poetry any words that try to tell me what the author has been doing since he woke up. Poetry should not be used to fill pages with useless details. When readers start believing that any poetry book in a bookshop will stimulate their emotions, I believe poetry will start having a more important role in our lives. As Charles Darwin puts it: “If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.”
ALM: Do you have any advice for new poets/authors?
PS: Write with your soul and don’t bother your readers with details that are only important for you.
ALM: What is the best advice you have ever heard?
PS: Avoid adjectives. Easier said than done. Very difficult to follow when one is writing poetry.
ALM: What are you reading now?
PS: I usually do parallel reading. On my side table I have now three books: The Man Without Qualities from Robert Musil, Blood and Thunder from Hampton Sides and The Lady of the Lake from Walter Scott. A combination of a remarkable novel with well written and researched history and brilliant poetry, which add to the sense that the night has never been meant for sleeping.
ALM: Who are your favorite authors and poets, and what are your favorite books ever?
PS: Part of the answer has been given above. But requires clarification because the same way rivers change, we change. For me, right now, there is a particular book that takes alone the highest position of my podium: Niels Lyhne, written in 1880 by Jens Peter Jacobsen. A monumental (should spare on adjectives) book that I have read twice and will certainly read again. Now, whatever the reasons of my bias, and after a bit of searching in the corners of my memory, I would include in my favorites, without any concern of order: The tragedies of Sophocles, “Don Quixote de la Mancha” by Cervantes, “Os Lusíadas” by Camões, “Candide” by Voltaire, “Divine Comedy” by Dante, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Nietzsche, “Either-Or” by Kierkegaard, “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Wilde, “I Robot” by Isaac Asimov, “Out of Africa” by Karen Blixen, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Stowe and “Jerusalem” by Montefiore, to stick to a dozen. In the world of poetry I have more difficulty in selecting. Still, for me, Luís de Camões, Fernando Pessoa, William Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy stand at the top of the best. To this list I would add a few more: Alexander Pope, Victor Hugo, Lord Byron, William Butler Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, John Masefield and Florbela Espanca. And all sincere poets with a poetic soul.
ALM: What do you deem the most relevant about your writing?
PS: That I won’t dare to answer. I’m even afraid that I may spoil whatever ability I may have to write if I start thinking about it. But I am expecting to hear many different opinions and critics. And I hope that the way I write will contribute, even if modestly, to the perception of poetry as an art that can help and increase the quality of our inner and spiritual life.
ALM: Thank you Pierre. Good luck with your writing and your photography.