Updated: Oct 7
October 4, 2023
Today, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Johnny Francis Wolf for ILA readers. After reading his bio, I got the vibe of a 50's beat poet, an 'On the Road' sort of guy who could probably tell you the most amazing stories. He has two recent books - MEN UNLIKE OTHERS, Volumes 1&2 - which are both available on Amazon and everywhere, published by Wild Ink Publishing, LLC.
- Johnny Francis Wolf is an Autist - an autistic Artist, Designer, Model, Actor, Writer and Hustler. Yes, that. Worth a mention - his Acting obelisk - starring in the ill-famed and fated 2006 indie film, TWO FRONT TEETH. The fact that it's free to watch on YouTube might say an awful lot about its standing with the Academy. Homeless for the better part of these past ten years, Johnny surfs friends' couches, shares the offered bed, relies on the kindness of strangers - paying when can, doing what will, performing odd jobs. Of late - Ranch Hand, his favorite. From NY to LA, Taos and Santa Fe, Mojave Desert, Coast of North Carolina, points South and Southeast, back North to PA, hiking the hills and looking for home - considers himself blessed. (Shhh - there's talk of Key West and a real live apartment share.)
Carl: Hello Johnny, and thank you for being here with us, today. My first question is: 1. Can you tell us about your journey as a poet and how you found solace or inspiration while experiencing homelessness? *
Johnny: Humbled to make your acquaintance, Carl. And, as I mentioned in one of our emails, I am impressed by your own writing, bio, and the number of journaled pieces and published books you've written. Still stumped you'd interview someone as lowly as me. I am grateful for the opportunity. Regarding your question, I think homelessness can be defined in many ways. Simplest is 'a lack of home'. For most of my adult life, I was gainfully employed, in one fashion or another, and had my own place...mostly small one-room apartments, but places I could call sanctuary. Back about 10 or 12 years, I lost my then job and shortly thereafter, my apartment...and began my journey sleeping on friends' couches, moving around the United States, tied to no one and no job...and renting no place. I would fetch my desktop out of storage and start writing again. All sorts of things. Fears and observations, my experiences feeling alone in crowded rooms, thoughts on writing, getting older, God, angels, men, and monsters...pondering a world where folks struggle just to make ends meet.
Carl: How has your experience of homelessness influenced your poetry? Are there specific themes or emotions that you find yourself exploring in your work? *
Johnny: I think, now, I can be available to, and more empathetic of, the musings of all men and women from across a myriad of belief systems, religions, persuasions, inclinations - and whether rich or poor. I am a gay man whose words can be felt by anyone. I have lived high on the hog, when younger, never dreaming it could all come crashing down someday. I have lived scraping together pennies for dinner. I have loved men and women. Seeing all sides allows a poet to feel deeper, more fertile, and open to change. Lets them react more fully. Express more nuances on a whole host of savory (and unsavory) subjects.
Carl: Many poets draw inspiration from their surroundings. How do the streets or places you've lived in, influence your writing and choice of topics? * Johnny: I wrote about the Mojave Desert when I lived there, on a ranch. I wrote of the magic of New Mexico. My love of cities, my fear of getting lost in them. Horses I adored in Florida and the lessons they taught me. Beauty that surrounded me in Pennsylvania. Where I lived never forced my hand as to topics. More precise, where I lived spun the how I told my tales. The life messages were the same. Colors within each story were shaded, flavored by the place I currently reside.
Carl: Poetry often serves as a means of self-expression and healing. How has writing poetry helped you to cope with the challenges of your life? * Johnny: I'm always healing. I wrote this in the middle of a pretty bad Covid episode, residing in Key West (Living with a roommate). My challenges are no more onerous than anyone else's. DAILY do I find something to write about having to do with THAT DAY'S lesson learned - that God, or whoever, deigned necessary to teach me. I say again...I am always healing. And always feeling blessed.
Carl: What is your best advice for a new poet and please share your goals for the future? * Johnny: Well, that would be advice for me, as well, since I consider myself a new poet. With regard to art, music, and writing, close enough is NEVER good enough. Polish your pieces until they are as perfect as you can make them. If you rhyme, don't use the usual suspects (like moon and June)...choose the wondrous and weird. Find new ways describing what dreamers have already painted with words for eons. Don't ever allow your verse to get to sing-songy. Don't let your poems be all about you. Don't spout fancy, angry words that make you think you're cool. Coolness comes in soft punches that land on softer, unsuspecting tissue. I hope to keep writing and be published through traditional compositors (though I applaud my self-published friends). I hope to finally, again, have my own place to live. Maybe a studio on Key West.
Carl: Tell us what you like best about our ILA Group and the ILA Magazine? * Johnny: It is one of the most welcoming International group of writers and poets I've yet to encounter. There is a glorious acceptance of all leanings in your group and magazine, even if you, as an individual member/reader, may not agree with, understand, or comply with another's point of view. Your support and encouragement has been overwhelming.
Carl: Thank you for your time today, Johnny. We, at ILA, wish you the absolute best in your life and are here to support you. We wish great things for your life. Thank you. * Johnny: I wish the very same for you, Carl and Annette. I am honored to know you both and answer your queries. May the three of us share an afternoon of coffee and verse one day. And I leave you with a poem and photo from a forthcoming book titled, 'Box of Chocolates'...a semi-autobiographical verse on homelessness...and maybe God. JOHNNY FRANCIS WOLF
View and read more about Johnny Francis Wolf at... Wild Ink Publishing Johnny's third book, UNAPOLOGETIC will be released on November 21st, 2023 - 2 days before Thanksgiving and just in time for Christmas gifting! Just think...cuddling next to the fireplace, or settling into your favorite cozy chair while delving into Johnny's poems! Johnny has granted permission to showcase his video that goes with the new book....sort of a 'tease'...
from Wild Ink Publishing, LLC, included in the Facebook link, some art and its press sheet...as well as a cover reveal for the new book and a quick release blurb. https://www.facebook.com/wolf.johnny/videos/690448769813118