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Poets of the Dark: Interview with Teel James Glenn


Teel James Glenn has killed hundreds and been killed more times–on stage and screen, as he has traveled the world for forty-plus years as a stuntman, swordmaster, storyteller, bodyguard, actor, and haunted house barker. He is proud to have studied sword under Errol Flynn’s last Stunt double and been beaten up by Hawk on Spenser for Hire TV show. He did over two hundred episodic appearances on Soap operas, 70 feature films and 60 renaissance festivals all over the country.

His poetry and short stories have been printed in over two hundred magazines including Weird Tales, Mystery Weekly, Pulp Adventures, Space & Time, Mad, Cirsova, Silverblade, Heroic Fantasy, Blazing Adventures and Sherlock Holmes Mystery. His novel A Cowboy in Carpathia: A Bob Howard Adventure won best novel 2021 in the Pulp Factory Award. He is also the winner of the 2012 Pulp Ark Award for Best Author. And he was a finalist for the Derringer short mystery award in 2022.

His website is: TheUrbanSwashbuckler.com
Facebook: Teeljamesglenn
Twitter: @teeljamesglenn

What sparked your interest in horror poetry? Was there a particular event or work that inspired you to delve into the darker side of poetry?

I found Poe in high school and after him Nathanial Hawthorne and the beauty of the word construction in everything they wrote was poetry as prose. And then the poetry of Robert E Howard—separate from his prose—gave me a window into the dark world.

Can you describe your creative process when writing horror poetry? Do you have any rituals or techniques that help you tap into your darkest fears and bring them to life on the page?

I really think of painting word pictures and often simply start with an image and then that image leads me to tell a story or pursue a feeling in the words. As for tapping into fears—again, I just follow the word train into the darkness. I write poetry sporadically—sometimes for days on end then not for a year. I have taken to incorporating poetry in my sword and sorcery prose to advance the narrative ( I have a bard character) so they are ‘songs’ that give me a chance to play.

How do you balance the need to be evocative and disturbing with the constraints of poetic structure and form? Are there any particular strategies you use to create tension and build suspense in your horror poems?

I write freeform—which is to say except for some haiku I’ve played around with. I play word jazz and really don’t follow any specific form.

Who are some of your favorite horror poetry inspirations? Are there any authors or poets whose work you admire and draw inspiration from when crafting your own dark verse?

It started with Poe, and believe it or not Nathanial Horthorne then went to Robert E. Howard, and Shirley Meier who is the living writer who really not only inspired me but encouraged me to write poetry. I owe a lot to her.

Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring horror poets who want to explore the genre? Are there any particular challenges or pitfalls they should be aware of, and how can they overcome them to create truly terrifying poetry?

I think clichés are a danger unless you use them, invert them or directly invoke them for purpose.  I think the real answer is just to write—as they say-‘dance like nobody is watching’ so just write, feel, see the word pictures and embrace whatever comes.

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