An Interview with Travis Stephens

Welcome to SPLASH! Today's featured author interview is with poet Travis Stephens. Travis shared his poem Ceilidh in the 2019 issue of From the Depths. Let's get to know him!

Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
The work I do to pay my bills is not an an academic field. I am a tugboat captain who knows that not one of my co-workers will ever read my stuff. The downside is that I am hungry for criticism and/or commiseration when a poem goes sideways.

Tell us about your writing process.
I am a longhand guy. My poems are first set down in a journal and typed as a second or third draft. Ideas, lines, snippets and copies of poems are all in these journal books. later I will mine them for ideas,
drafts or memory kickstarts.

Read, always. Write when the reading compels you to do so.


How do you handle writer's block?
Take a short walk. Pick up a book by someone you admire and read some. Copy a passage or poem. Open a blank page and try to fill it.

What was the inspiration behind Ceilidh?
This piece sprang from a walk along a rain-filled stream. It made me remember a past relationship where we walked a brown dog along such a stream far from here. That led to some reflection on the relationship and the poem came from those memories.

Did you face any challenges writing this piece?
Not to be schmaltzy yet retain the affection for that time and place.

Was there a defining moment that led you down this writerly path or a person who encouraged or helped shape you as a writer?
I was always a reader. It was the encouragement of professors Bruce Taylor, Martha Mihalyi, Dick Kirkwood, Ellen Last at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire that led me to write.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Write more, write often.

What are you reading right now?
Poetry of Ada Limon, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Bill Holm, J. Allyn Rosser, Sandra Beasley, Farrah Field, Beth Bachmann and Jennifer Knox. Fiction by William Gay and Alistair MacLeod.

What’s next? Do you have anything special that you’ll be focusing on in 2020?
Assembling a decent manuscript of poems for publication.

If you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
Read, always. Write when the reading compels you to do so.


About the Author

Travis Stephens is a tugboat captain who resides with his family in California. A graduate of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recent credits include: GYROSCOPE REVIEW, 2RIVER, GRAVITAS, SHEILA-NA-GIG, RAW ART REVIEW, CROSSWINDS POETRY JOURNAL, TINY SEED LITERARY JOURNAL, CIRQUE, APEIRON REVIEW, and THE DEAD MULE SCHOOL OF SOUTHERN LITERATURE.

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