Why did you decide to title your new collection of poems Looking For Potholes?
I like to use as a title one of the poems in a collection that captures my attitude or communicates one of the key themes of the collection as a whole. Looking for Potholes is about pushing limits, taking risks, causing trouble, shaking things up. I believe that one of the main purposes of art is to disturb, i.e., moving the reader existentially from one place to another. Poems can do a great job of disturbing in the sense of altering perception and consciousness. I think the poems in Potholes do exactly that.
Which poem in this collection resonates with you the most? Why?
Well, of course, they all do. They’re my babies. Obviously “Looking for Potholes” resonates with me for the reasons I just described, but if I had to single out one other poem in the collection, it would be “Stand Up.” It’s an activist poem about standing up for who we are as human beings, despite the risks—and there are many. I believe that the most radical thing any of us can do is to simply stand up every single day and be who we are. That’s what the poem is saying, and I believe it very deeply.
In five words how would you describe your new collection of poetry?
It’s a book of revelations.
What was the biggest challenge while writing Looking For Potholes?
I had written poems sporadically over the years, but last July I suddenly began writing one poem after another. In September I published my first book of poetry, entitled Free Air. It’s a combination of the poems that I had written over the years and the new ones that just began exploding out of me last summer. By the end of August I had written all of the poems that appear in Looking for Potholes, so the challenge was really just to stay open and relaxed and let the poems come. I’ve since written two more books of poetry, which I’ll be publishing in September and January. Another book is about two-thirds done.
In what ways has poetry touched your life? Is there a particular poem that has changed you in some way?
Poetry is an inspiration. It’s epiphanic and revelatory. It can change how we look at ourselves and how we experience the world. One poem that changed me and resonated with me is T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” I read it when I was young, and it’s of course one of the most powerful poems ever written in terms of the power of its imagery. So it blew my mind, as one would say back in the day, and it told me that, yes, you can use the power of the poetic imagination to capture the essence of human experience. That is a very inspiring thought, and I continue to carry that thought with me every single day.
About Joe Wenke
Joe Wenke is a writer, social critic and LGBTQI rights activist. He is the founder and publisher of Trans Über, a publishing company with a focus on promoting LGBTQ rights, free thought and equality for all people. In addition to Looking for Potholes: Poems, Wenke is the author of, The Human Agenda, The Talk Show, A Novel, Free Air: Poems; Papal Bull: An Ex-Catholic Calls Out the Catholic Church; You Got To Be Kidding! A Radical Satire of the Bible; and Mailer’s America.
About Looking For Potholes
You’ve probably never gone searching for potholes, but Joe Wenke celebrates the unusual practice in his new book LOOKING FOR POTHOLES. Instead of simply moving past these bumps in the road, Wenke examines these setbacks and obstacles with the clarity of a philosopher and takes a closer look at the potholes people carve out in their lives each day. No detail goes unnoticed in Wenke’s poetry as he tackles questions about identity, complacency, and how to make a home in a vast world. Wenke’s background in LGBTQI rights activism and social criticism prepared him for this collection of challenging poems. For those who love poetry that leaves you hanging on every line, Wenke’s writing style is nothing short of breathtaking.