National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Joe Cottonwood

Each day in April, in honor of National Poetry Month and our third anniversary issue (find out how to get a copy HERE), we are running an interview with a poet who has been published in Gyroscope Review. Read on.

National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Joe Cottonwood

Poet Joe Cottonwood

How will you celebrate National Poetry Month? I’m building a Poetry Box to place along the road in front of my house. Rustic-style but similar to those boxes where realtors put handouts when a house is for sale. These handouts will be poems. I live on a popular hiking/jogging/biking/horseback trail, so passersby will be moving slowly enough to stop and look.

Pen, pencil or computer first? Computer, mostly. If pencil, it ends up on the computer sooner or later.

Who/what are your influences? My day job for 40 years has been construction work, so I’m influenced by the tradesmen who surround me all day, what they talk about, what they listen to. Lots of story-telling. Lots of humor. 

What topic is the hardest for you to write about and why? Meta-anything. What the duck is meta?

What was the worst writing idea you ever had? I tried to write a “Young Mother’s Story” for Redbook magazine because they were paying $500. Somehow I couldn’t pull it off.

What authors do you love right now? Sherman Alexie. Langston Hughes. Donna Hilbert.

What is the most important role of poets in 2018? To keep us grounded in our common humanity. To remind us that we all have heartbeats, no matter the outside package.

Where do you go when you need to recharge? The beach. I live 10 miles from the Pacific. Winter days especially, walk a hundred yards from the parking lot and you’re all alone with pelicans and driftwood, seals bobbing their heads up from the surf. 

What is your favorite end-of-the-day drink? Beer.

Joe Cottonwood lives in La Honda, California. His most recent publication is 99 Jobs: Blood Sweat & Houses. Visit Joe’s website at