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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Oneal Walters, author of The Age Begins

JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Oneal Walters, author of The Age Begins
(The Age Begins Books)

(One of the first ten people to comment on Oneal Walters’ author interview will win a FREE copy of The Age Begins poetry collection!)

Oneal Walters writes about the intimacy between women and men. In vivid detail, he shows the problems and pain that he faces in separate relationships. His motto, “to truly love, you have to be a willing giver”, fits this collection of poems brilliantly.

Each relationship poem depicts a deeper and more engaging aspect of him. As the search for love matures, his understanding and feelings ripen and as he understands and changes how he responses to women, it is clear that he is on the verge of defining love for all.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write The Age Begins?

Oneal Walters: The Age Begins was the birth of multiple ideas. I think readers appreciate my book after they read it, but I don’t think they really understand what I tried to accomplish with the cover of the book.

The back cover shows a boiling world and the ground is cracked; this world is not a livable place. The front cover shows footprints to a castle. The footprints represent a journey that leads away from a dying, boiling world, or a world in a state of recession, to a place of prosperity and life, hence the title The Age Begins.

Life is shown in the grass, trees and brushes. The two camels are a symbol of love. The back and front cover illustrates what you are going to get inside the book.

The idea for this book is that we have to transition from what is dying to get to what is life. Continuing on this thought, we begin in a dying state and must move towards what is most beneficial for us. The title, The Age Begins, is statement for everyone. We have to begin to move in the direction that is life.

As to the situations in the poems, I am glad to meet wonderful people who have touched me emotionally and mentally. The vividness of these experiences printed within this book is a gift for all who relate to my reflections on love and life. My first collection of poetry, Frozen Stare, was an intimate look inside my life. The Age Begins does have an intimate look inside me but has also taken on universal themes.

Joey Pinkney: In the book industry, poets are usually as self-motivated as they come. You discuss this in The Age Begins. What did you learn about yourself in completing this collection of poetry?

Oneal Walters: I realized that poets are singular. I had a negative experience, I can share that with other poets so that they don’t have to discover the same disappointment. I realized that there needs to be a concept to creating a book.

I read many poetry books before making The Age Begins, and there was no after-taste, no experience to hold onto. This book has experiences that you will hold onto and will relate to. It’s not just a collection of poems; it’s a voice speaking directly to you while you are reading.

I realized that all my poems are about people and that I didn’t like poems that were solely about trees and birds chirping. I learned that the elements that I enjoyed most about poetry were narration and people.

I realize that my favourite writers are Irving Layton and Maya Angelou, and that it was perfectly fine to say, “I’m a poet. These words make more sense once people see that you have a second collection of poems that is selling. The art comes before the sales, but the sales is just an explanation of how many people the art has reached.

I also came to realise that I am competitive because I wanted the Love and the Mis-justice sections of The Age Begins to have the same impact after it is read. I realized that success comes twice, once when you accomplish the desired effect and twice when everyone else sees it.

Joey Pinkney: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to The Age Begins getting out to the public?

Oneal Walters: The first key to success is to write what you want to say, then make sure an editor reads your work to ensure you said it effectively. The second key is to be persistent in staying true to you. In other words, write about what you enjoy the most. This makes writing enjoyable, especially when you have to create a book.

The third key is adaptability. Writing a book is much more than forming a collection of poems and giving it a title. You have to know your audience. Know how to build your audience. Know how to remain visible. Know what publications are beneficial to you and what is wasting your time. Not everyone that wants to publish your poems will project your work in the right ‘light’.

Joey Pinkney: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish The Age Begins?

Oneal Walters: This is a good question. The length of time isn’t really the issue; it’s the time it takes to complete the book to the time the book is released that is tricky.

Let’s first comment on the writing itself. There are hot times when I have many thoughts and experiences that I want to explore, and they flow beautifully through me and on to the screen. There are times when I spend two to three days trying to perfect a stanza or a line because it doesn’t match my sense of excellence.

Then there are those moments when I look at poems that I wrote years ago. Inspiration comes, and I write the topic in a different way. From a writing perspective, The Age Begins took many months. This includes writing, editing, grouping and then master order.

Joey Pinkney: What’s next for Oneal Walters?

Oneal Walters: I am very blessed to have my two annual poetry contests: Women Inspirational Poetry Contest and, Love Poem Poetry Contest. Here is where I recognise and celebrate talented poets. Full details are at www.onealwalters.com/contests.html.

There is OW News, which is a monthly newsletter emailed to my readers. In 2010, Sheila B. Roark’s poetry book, Shattered Hearts, will be published by The Age Begins Books. Also, my third book will be published around fall-winter.


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Book Review: The Age Begins by Oneal Walters

The Age Begins
by Oneal Walters
(The Age Begins Books)
4.5 out of 5 Stars

With The Age Begins, Oneal Walters puts his heartbeats on paper. When a writer is a poet, the literature is filled with poetic elements. Oneal Walters is a poet that is a writer. The Age Begins is a poetic assemblage that shows, through verse and concept, the story of a working man who is also a struggling, educated poet. From “Born Again” to “Finding Pleasure” to “A Special Proceeding”, Walters gives the reader a candid peak inside of a poet’s perspective.

This is a poetry book that cannot be judged for simply being a poetry book, nor can it be judged by the illustration on the book’s cover. The cuddling camels and prodigious palace in a vast desert conjure Saharan images complete with flying carpets and magical lamps. Instead, The Age Begins is steeped in the complexity of love, the challenges of finding a fulfilling job and the toils of gaining respect as a writer.

From the poem “Passionate”:

Perhaps when unseeing writers write
Books become loveless.
The best avenue for reviving
Breathless books is to
Breathe in the outward
Cries of the people

The Age Begins reads like the soundtrack of the life of a person seeking truth with his poetry and precision with his heart. Like any true poet, the main character’s passion is for the artistic purity of writing. Walter deftly depicts the rejection by the hands of the gatekeepers of the publishing world. Then there are the people who claim they will help, but never do. There is also the underlying encounter between the main character and a female that brings a heightened level of sexual and intellectual complexity.

The reoccurring bus trips and genuine conversations with the female were especially poignant. The main character shares his innermost secrets, his innermost thoughts. The reader gets an exchange that is transparent and more enriching than the manufactured struggles of a romance novel. Walters manages to give the best definition of the concept of love I have ever come across in “Explain Love”.

From the poem “Strongest Female”:

I’m leaving this bus, one last time,
She’s “the one” I said a few times.
Understanding her makes me happy
Accepting her strengths inspires me.

There is a section of The Age Begins that deals with something that is very close to home for many people: the effects of an economic recession. Walters becomes a journalist in the true sense of the word as he details the ravaging effects that the lack of love and money can have on a marriage. Poems like “BETRAYAL” and “Curse and Be Cursed” tell the story of mental deterioration under the strangle of distress.

From the poem “Cursed and Be Cursed”:

Perry is fired today.
He watches the time
To see if I will be
Fired too.

All in all, The Age Begins is more than slick rhyme schemes that skim over abstract ideas in order to affront cuteness. If you are looking for composition that is more reality that fantasy, this is a collection of life’s poetry: brutally honest and deceptively beautiful.

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