Joan Hanna: We were so happy to have your poem “Walking” as part of our October issue. Can you share with our readers a little about how this poem came about?
Allan Johnston: Actually, I remember very little about writing the poem. I was writing a lot every day at the time, and this was one of the pieces that came out. I wrote it over ten years ago, and for some reason I associate it with the parking lot at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois, where I was probably teaching at the time.
JH: Are the themes in “Walking” typical subject matter for your poetry? What other themes or topics are you drawn to?
AJ: I find myself going all over the place thematically, though “getting on with life” seems an important one. I have more recently tried to write thematically connected collections, and this is a new direction for me.
JH: You published a full-length poetry collection Tasks of Survival (1996) and also a chapbook, Northport published in 2010. Can you give our readers a little more information about these books and how either your writing process or your poetry has changed in the time span between the publication of the two books?
AJ: Northport is a result of a thematically oriented collection. The poems are about the time I spent in the American Northwest in the 1970s, during what one could call the “back to the land” movement.
Tasks of Survival was a more eclectic volume, my first attempt to publish a book, and a learning experience. In Tasks of Survival I veered from spontaneous creation to strict order. Both books for me move outward from the self into nature.
JH: Are there any links to websites, other publications or links for purchase of your books you would like to share with our readers?
AJ: This link is my Columbia College page where there are lots of secondary links to online poems and other writings: Columbia College
The two books are best found on Amazon.com:
JH: Thank you for discussing your work with our readers at r.kv.r.y. If you could answer one final question: Can you share with us what recovery means to you?
AJ: Recovery is an ongoing process of adjusting to what life has to give.