Collin and I met through the blogging community here on WordPress. We have a mutual respect and appreciation for each other’s work. Collin kindly asked me to do an interview for his blog recently (which you can find here) and in return I asked Collin some questions about his life and work, the substance of which you can find below.
Can you tell us why you refer to yourself as Philosophical Rambler?
Firstly, thank you for inviting me to do this interview Steven, it is a great pleasure.
This is a great question! I actually refer to myself as the Philosophical Rambler for many reasons. It is a persona, a personality, a character, that truly represents me. I love seeing the world and traveling to new places to find inspiration for my writing. That is the rambler, the person who travels and has stories to tell. They have seen a lot of this world, maybe they have gone through a lot too. It is very hard to find new inspiration as a writer without a new environment, and that doesn’t always have to be a new place physically.
Many times, the place you are in this week emotionally or spiritually is vastly different than even a month ago. You must keep moving forward in your personal life so that you will have new content to create. This leads to the problem we see in the music industry with so many artists dying at such young ages. There is a myth that you need to be messed up to write something new, something unique, that is simply not true.
One of the greatest songwriters in my opinion, Justin Townes Earle, talks about this in many of his interviews before he passed away in 2020 due to an accidental overdose. He said that he was able to write much better when his mind was clear. Life is inspirational enough when you experience it without distortion. The philosophical in the name describes the type of rambler. It is a person who is questioning culture, society, and broadly, existence.
Do you have a specialism, or particular area of interest, when it comes to writing?
Yes, I definitely specialize in poetry and short essays. I write what I would call philosophical poetry. A lot of what I write in the form of poetry deals with emotions, culture, and the struggle for existence in modern society.
It is much easier for someone to understand a poem about nostalgia than a thousand-word essay, it really depends on who you want your audience to be. I try to balance being an intellectual with also being practical. Many of my essays are very in depth and moderately long, but they have brought me great success and opportunities I never imagined.
My recently released poetry collection, Blood Stained Mahogany, has a general appeal to anyone. You don’t have to like poetry to read it. Traditional rhyming poetry is not what you see in most contemporary journals today. I do not have a particular poetry style that I adopted when I began writing, I was writing the early poetry on my blog without any idea of tradition or standards.
Looking back, I see that as a good thing. Now I definitely have a style, but it is completely my own, it tends to be short but packed with meaning. It is harder to add levels of meaning to a longer poem without it being read more as a narrative. I would encourage people interested in writing to write what they feel, you can get some really unique work when you experiment.
Can you name three books that have influenced your thought, and why you like them?
This is a very interesting question. My favorite philosopher is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, so I definitely have been impacted by “The Social Contract.” It contributes a lot of the foundation for modern political philosophy and can be seen as a manual for society. Though there are many critiques of social contract theory throughout contemporary philosophy, I have been able to build a unique approach to deconstructing the theory which I expect to be published on my blog in the coming months.
Another book would be “Walden and Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau. It was one of the first philosophy books that I read, and it impacts my view of economics, nature, political theory, and housing. It is a must read for anyone interested in philosophy. It can be read as a narrative, or a guide on how to live free. The bulk of my original philosophical work deals with the self and our relation to society, culture, and government.
Lastly, a book that has had a big impact on me personally is “Lost Illusions” by Honoré de Balzac. It is a novel which highlights the struggle of the writer in society. I have internalized the understanding of the main character, Lucien Chardon de Rubempré, where I now realize when I am acting in the same manner as him. We are very similar; it is incredible he is a fictional character. Honoré de Balzac was an extremely talented novelist, I would personally equate him with Leo Tolstoy.
Your new book is titled Blood Stained Mahogany. Can you tell us about the book — why you wrote it and who it might appeal to?
Yes, Blood Stained Mahogany is my most recent book and reflects how far I have come as a writer within a short period of time. I think it also reflects how far I have come as a person; I have experienced a lot since Time Eternal (my debut chapbook) was released in April of this year.
The book appeals to anyone. I say that not as an author looking for someone to get the book, it is a collection of over 170 poems that deal with so many themes that many people have experienced. People who have read it, never before reading any poetry, really enjoy it. The work speaks for itself when you read it. There is so much that this book deals with, as I say in the preface, each poem needs to be read first individually, and then how it reflects to the larger collection.
I see Blood Stained Mahogany as art, a story, and in many cases, my own evolving understanding of this world, and sometimes what is beyond. I began writing this book immediately after releasing Time Eternal in April, I had a good amount of the first poems in this book completed before the production on Time Eternal was even finished.
Time Eternal was a single, in music terms, and Blood Stained Mahogany is an album. The two books definitely reflect each other, but I identify much more with this recent release. An artist will always be most critical of his old work. The poems in Blood Stained Mahogany were all written during the late spring and early summer, and I think the season impacted their creation in many ways. Some of the poems are historical, there is one about the French Revolution and another about the Bolshevik Revolution. I was reading a lot of Russian and French literature at the time.
Other poems near the end of the book are nearly psychedelic. I have created each line of the poems very carefully, but they can be read in an infinite number of ways. I want the reader to put their own life and journey into the words. The book will appeal to anyone who is interested in learning more about our struggle to exist, our culture, and really, themselves. I learn something about myself every time I read a poem from the collection, and I am the author.
The title, Blood Stained Mahogany, is reflective of something very valuable like mahogany wood, being stained with blood, being scarred. The stain won’t go away, it will be there as long as the wood lasts. The idea for the title comes from having the great experience of visiting the Lotz House in Franklin, Tennessee. The wood in the room is stained with the blood of soldiers from the American Civil War who were injured in the nearby battle. You can see exactly where the people were due to the stains. What was going on in the mind of those people as they were slowly dying? They were sitting in a mansion, likely with people they never knew, as they struggled to hold onto life. The pain, the screams, the trauma. You can not enter that room without feeling that it is not a normal place.
The title of this book can be deconstructed to mean that though you may have wealth, that does not mean that it is not bought with blood. You have a story, you have a past, and that is something you will not be able to get away from. This is just one interpretation of the title, there are many layers of meaning to explore.
What’s the meaning of life?
Ha, this is a good question. What is the meaning of life? Who can answer that? I do not claim to be able to answer that, I don’t think that throughout your entire life you will have the same answer. As a Christian, I would say that the meaning of life is to live with honor and to glorify God. As a human, I would say that the meaning is to live with honor, endure suffering, create and conserve beauty, and find real truth at the bottom of the chaos of modern society and culture. That is the best we can do. We are very fragile.
Where can people find out more about you and your books?
People can find out more about me and read my work on my blog Philosophical Rambler here. If they are interested in getting my books, they can get them from Amazon here. Thank you very much for hosting this interview Steven, it has been a great experience.
Many thanks, Collin, for answering my questions! I hope readers have enjoyed learning more about Collin and his work and will consider purchasing a copy of one of Collin’s books and following his blog.