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Walter J. Wojtanik: Poet Interview

Categories: Poet Interviews, Poetry Challenge 2013, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

The next poet in our Top 25 poet interview series from the 2013 April PAD Challenge is one of the more generous and productive poets I’ve encountered since starting the Poetic Asides blog. I’m speaking, of course, of Walt Wojtanik.

Walter J. Wojtanik

Walter J. Wojtanik

Walter J. Wojtanik started to hone his writing skills when he taught himself to play the family organ, composing music on his keyboard at age 13. He found his lyrics could stand on their own, but the scope of his words reaches further than being merely a poet, having penned several stage plays (all performed in his native Buffalo, NY). Currently, he’s busy writing a screenplay and working concurrently to complete his first “real” poetry collection and a joint effort with Marie Elena Good. He’s co-authored Poetic Bloomings: The First Year with Marie. His words have found their way onto numerous blogs and poetry workshops across the internet. He enjoys the theater, classical music, obsessing on the Beatles and Chicago, and spending time with his daughters (Melissa and Andrea) who share his appreciation of poetry. His work can be found at Through the Eyes of a Poet’s Heart, I Am Santa Claus, Across the Lake Eerily, Poetic Bloomings, and (of course) here on Poetic Asides.

Here’s Walt’s Top 25 poem:

Sonnet for the Common Man, by Walter J. Wojtanik

Hail to you, oh common man
Simple soul who takes a stand
Your ethic is both strong and true
‘Tis a better world because of you.

You toil from first morning light
And labor until the fall of night
Protect your family, render love,
Bowing head to Him above.

Taking pride in all your skills,
Showing nothing but goodwill.
Giving to the ones in need,
Teach your children this indeed.

Simple souls who take their stand
Every child, woman, and man.


Where are you located?

I still call Buffalo, New York, my home, although have spent some time in recent months in Colorado. As a lifelong resident of Buffalo, things haven’t changed a whole lot. The Bills are still bad, the Sabres are less than sharp, and I continue to pen my poetry and music.

There has been a push to revitalize the area and things are looking up. However, every Western New Yorker’s dream is to live long enough to see it come to fruition

Who are your favorite poets?

I enjoy reading the classic poets and their poems: Wordsworth, Whitman, Keats and all. My tendencies lean toward Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes, Yehuda Amichai and Roger McGough.

But my favorite poets are people like Marie Elena Good (the love of my life, but don’t tell Keith), Pearl Ketover, RJ Clarken (she speaks to my mind), Amy Barlow Liberatore, Iain Douglas Kemp, Laurie Kolp, Marylin Braendeholm, Sara McNulty, Barbara Young, Jane Shlensky, Nancy Posey, Sal Buttaci, S.E. Ingraham, Paula Wanken. Did I mention De Jackson? And… see the problem? I love them all.

As a reader, what do you like most in poems?

For me, a poem need not rhyme, or adhere to a specific meter. It need not be a restrictive form. A poem just has to touch me in some way. Tender or smack over the head, or erotic, or purely romantic, just touch me. A long-winded rant of brief snippet of thought, it is all poetry. But then, I will do the contrary to that in my own writing and rhyme the heck out of them. So…

What were your goals for the 2013 April PAD Challenge?

Having attained the “Grail” in 2010 being named Poet Laureate for the April PAD Challenge, my goal for this and all subsequent Challenges was to raise the bar just a smidge and holding these incredible poets’ feet to the fire. I wanted my poetic friends to succeed to that level. I was happy when Joseph Harker, and De Jackson and Brian Slusher, and now Bill Preston were selected.

I await the day when Nancy, Iain and Jane make the grade. I have no allusions to being the first “two-fer” PL. I just want to improve every day. My mistake after my designation in 2010 was letting it go to my head, Mr. Big Shot Poet. Humility is a firm shake back to reality. I’m grateful for that lesson. I’m able to stop and smell the Sestinas now. It’s pretty nice actually!

What’s next for you?

I have a collection of my poetry (“Dead Poet… Once Removed”)  in the editing stages. I’d like to try and get a “real” book done the right way while I still can. And I’m beginning a new blog geared toward the lyricist in a lot of us. I’m finding that all lyricists are poets. But not all poets can be lyricists.

I’m hoping to shed some light on this genre of “poetry” to help like-minded writers along. My first poems were lyrics for music I had composed at 13. I’m turning back to “my roots.”

Oh, and finding a cure for cancer. There’s not much in a Creative Writing background to help in that regard, but we can all dream, can’t we?


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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

34 Responses to Walter J. Wojtanik: Poet Interview

  1. Michelle Hed says:

    What a great interview Robert and Walt! Yes, can’t wait for your new poetry book Walt! I’m happy you are back in the sleigh…saddle!

  2. drwasy says:

    Super interview! I remember this poem the day it posted, and thought it one of your best. Still do. Congratulations to one of the most prolific and generous poets on the planet. Peace…

  3. priyajane says:

    It was very inspiring and energizing to read this interview. Walt–Your poems make me pause and read and reread– your words flow with feelings and make an impression ( coming from a very novice writer–)
    Thank you for sharing–

    • When we share our work and ourselves we become better poets and observers of life. As a “very novice” writer you’ve already learned a valuable lesson. You are being read and are making an impression with your own work. Continue to write and submit your work to the many poetry sites and publications, priyajane!

  4. Hannah says:

    Yay!! What a wonderful poet interview!!! Thank you to you both for this!

    Warm smiles!

    • Ah, my Maine poet! As Dorothy Gale said to the Scarecrow (I think I’ll miss you most of all!), I think I’ve missed your smile most. You’re welcome and thank you for your continued support. Keep smiling and I’ll keep writing it on you!

  5. RJ Clarken says:

    Robert – thanks so much for this interview! Walt is a superb poet, as well as a friend!

    Walt – I totally love you! And your work speaks (loudly and in volumes) to me, too! ♥

  6. De Jackson says:

    Loves me some Walt, always.
    I think we’ve both been at this constant, ever poeming thing from around the same mutual first year (both missing only the first year’s challenge in 2008), and Walt has been both a voice of encouragement and a talent to follow all these years. I’m blessed to call this incredible poet a friend.

  7. seingraham says:

    Hey Walt (and Robert) – how wonderful to read such a cool interview with one of my favourite poets and also a fav PL for the street, an excellent choice and def someone I could see being crowned twice! And I’m also tickled and flattered to be mentioned amongst your posse of poets Walt…it means a lot; you’ve been one of my most faithful encouragers, for as long as I can remember. I look forward to seeing the new blog, book, and whatever else you come up with…will try to put in a more regular appearance at the garden as well. Great to have you and your words and wit back with us. Sharon I.

    • Sharon. All I do is hold a mirror to your brilliance. The bright light is all you reflecting back. I’ve always encouraged you because your work has always impressed me. I’m glad you’ve finally come around to seeing how wonderful you are. I will watch for you over there… and anywhere your words land.

  8. Jane Shlensky says:

    So good to see our guy Walt interviewed, Robert. I love the poem, Walt, and look forward to checking out your new blog when it’s up and running. Thanks for the mention, but I don’t think I have the right stuff to be laureate. You and Bill have raised that bar until I can barely see it. Hello up there.

  9. Marie Elena says:

    Well, at 6’1″ and 220, you better HOPE he knows you’re kidding! :D

    But seriously … so wonderful and humbling to be named with those I admire so VERY much. Thank you, Walt. And know this: nobody will ever hold a place of more respect for their work than you. The passion and transparency you put into every poem you pen is an inspiration to us all.

    Keep our garden blooming beautifully, and stop to smell the Sestinas while you are in there. (Just don’t smell mine. They have a peculiar stench…)

  10. PressOn says:

    Walt’s body of work is much larger than I’ve had opportunity to peruse, but in those poems I have read, the predominant sense I receive is passion. He is, in my opinion, a person who “cares deeply, and transmits that caring in his words and, I presume, his music. Usually, when I read his works, I feel them also. Thanks for this interview, Walt and Robert.

  11. PKP says:

    Aww Walt – I was about to write that I agree that it was (and it still is ) a delightful surprise to see this interview and to offer all the cheering and support for all your endeavors – when surprise you tickled the narcissist in me – or rather Laurie did with her thanks of a mention and I returned to reread the interview and well what do ya’know there was I… Thanks good buddy. I have no idea why I am suddenly speaking in Buffalo long-hauler talk – grab me a wing …. I’m soaring ….

    Okay, I’ve returned … RLB – thanks for the subject – Walt thanks for the content – always good to read and to “hear” from you. The mention just a very much appreciated plus from a writer whom I truly do admire. <3

    • Pearl, always a pleasure and as I’ve said to have my name alongside the likes of you and Laurie and all these other wonderful poets is my honor. You do inspire and have done as much to promote the works of us all. To exclude you would have been a grave disservice to you. You are equally admired. :D

  12. JanetRuth says:

    Love the sonnet and wish you the best in your future endeavors. Walt, you have been a constant voice of encouragement in the poetry-world. thank-you

  13. I look forward to that new blog of yours, Walt – I’m very interested in learning about writing lyrics. I’ve had some experience translating lyrics and loved it.

  14. laurie kolp says:

    What a nice surprise to read this interview, Robert… and I am beyond flattered that you mentioned me, Walt. I can’t wait to see your new poetry book once it comes out… I’m so happy you are back!

    • Thanks Laurie. There’s that saying that goes, “A rising tide raises all ships” Every poet I mentioned and every poet I couldn’t include due to space restrictions… every one of you raise the bar. You all help make me a better poets and hopefully I can boost you as well. You are a wonderful poet, and I’m blessed to find my name along side yours here at Poetic Asides.

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