Robert Barrows: “A Pen and Paper”

1) A Literary Agent2) A Publisher3) A good paying job (because your poetry might not make you much money)4) Luck (Because you might need some luck getting published since there are so many other great poets out there)5) A Pen and Paper (If you’ve got an idea, just start writing and see where it goes.) […]

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

1) A Literary Agent
2) A Publisher
3) A good paying job (because your poetry might not make you much money)
4) Luck (Because you might need some luck getting published since there are so many other great poets out there)
5) A Pen and Paper (If you’ve got an idea, just start writing and see where it goes.)

Poetry is growing in popularity and millions of people spanning the globe have a renewed passion for embracing the creativity, beauty, and art of poetry. Poetry has the power to heal and we make sense of the world through the human expression of writing and reading. Are you wondering: What does it take to become a successful poet? What is the best medium and venue to release your poetry? What are some techniques to improve or sharpen your skills? In this interview series about how to write powerful and evocative poetry, we are interviewing people who have a love for poetry and want to share their insights, and we will speak with emerging poets who want to learn more about poetry either to improve their own skills or learn how to read and interpret better. Here, we will also meet rising and successful poets who want to share their work or broaden their audience, as well as poetry and literature instructors.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Barrows.

Robert Barrows is the President of an advertising agency called R.M. Barrows Advertising & Public Relations in San Mateo, California. In addition to doing advertising, he is also an author, poet, songwriter, sculptor and an inventor. His invention is a video tombstone called the “Video Enhanced Gravemarker (U.S. Patent #7,089,49). You can see some more about some of these items at www.barrows.com


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what first drew you to poetry?

Song lyrics make me think about writing poetry, and many of my poems are really designed to be made into song lyrics.

Can you tell us a bit about the interesting or exciting projects you are working on or wish to create? What are your goals for these projects?

I have self-published a couple of books of my poetry and I also self-published a book of jokes. The two books of poetry are called “Crazy Robert’s Poems and Potential Song Lyrics” and “Crazy Robert’s More Great Poems and Potential Song Lyrics.” The joke book is called “Crazy Robert’s Joke Book” and it also includes some funny poems I wrote. You can see some free samples of some of these books and download them for a dollar each on Amazon.

Another poetry project I have been pitching is a poem/potential song lyrics I have been writing called “The New Coronavirus Blues.” I have updated the poem several times throughout the course of the Pandemic, and I have been pitching it to media companies suggesting that they could publish the poem on a dedicated web page and then let their audiences add in verses of their own, and it could become the longest running poem in the world, in many different languages. And, media companies could also make a lot of money selling a lot of advertising on those pages. Plus, it is also designed to be made into song lyrics and additional revenues could come from songs and books based on the poem.

Wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. What is your definition of poetry? Can you please share with us what poetry means to you?

When I was in school, poetry was basically things that rhymed. I still use a lot of rhyming in my poetry, but a lot of my poetry does not rhyme.

What can writing poetry teach us about ourselves?

Poetry helps us express ideas and thoughts and feelings that we might or might not want to express to other people, and poetry helps us say a lot of things in a way that might be a lot more interesting than writing it in prose.

Who are your favorite poets? Is it their style, the content or something else that resonates with you?

My favorite poets are really songwriters in all genres. If I had to say who my favorite poets are, I would have to say Shakespeare and whoever it was that wrote the 23rd Psalm. If you look at the other psalms, they are in a much different style than the 23rd Psalm…and I wonder who wrote that one?

If you could ask your favourite poet a question, what would it be?

What have you written recently?

Poetry can be transformational. Is there a particular poem that spoke to you and changed your life or altered a perspective you held in some way? Can you share the story?

Many years ago, back in 2006, I ran for Congress. When I would talk about things like jobs and the economy, I would also point out that so many of the things we buy were being manufactured in other countries. When I was thinking about ways to help generate more manufacturing in America, I contacted a web company and I asked them about getting a domain name for a Made in America theme. At that time, they told me that all the domain names with those kinds of URLs were taken, but if I wanted, I could have a domain called “It used to be Made in America.” So, I registered that domain name and I started writing a poem called “It used to be Made in America.” The poem is about the loss of jobs and the consequences of the outsourcing of jobs and manufacturing to other countries. It paints a vivid picture of conflicting economic forces, and you can see the poem online at www.itusedtobemadeinamerica.com, and also at www.madeinusa.us.com. I hope to be able to develop the poem into a variety of business and entertainment projects that could help generate a lot more business that would be made in America. The poem would also make some very powerful song lyrics.

Today’s world needs so much healing. Can you help articulate how poetry can help us heal?

Poetry can help us understand a lot of emotions and thoughts that we might really be paying much attention to in our daily lives.

We’d like to learn more about your poetry and writing. How would you describe yourself as a poet? Can you please share a specific passage that you think exemplifies your style or main message?

I enjoy writing poetry and prose, and I also enjoy writing song lyrics. If I tried to sing the songs myself, they wouldn’t make ten cents, but if some famous singer might be interested in taking a look at some of my poems and potential song lyrics, maybe some of my poems could become great big hits.

The poems I write cover just about every aspect of our lives, from love and romance to success and money, to good and evil, to thoughts about life and death…and one poem is called “Heaven or Hell, Choose Well.”

“Heaven or Hell, Choose Well” is a mantra that we should follow all during our life.

What do you hope to achieve with your poetry?

I hope to achieve some measure of success with my poems. It would be nice to see some of them made into songs. It would be nice to make some good money from them. Fortune and Fame? Yeah, I’ll settle for fortune and fame, or at least some Fortune! And again, “Heaven or Hell, Choose Well.”

In your opinion and from your experience, what are 3 things everyone can learn from poetry?

1) How to express some ideas and thoughts you might be thinking about.

2) It might give you more insights into the thoughts and feelings of others.

3) It might give you a chance to tell your story to the world!

Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things a poet needs to know to create beautiful and evocative poetry?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.

The five things a poet needs are…

1) A Literary Agent

2) A Publisher

3) A good paying job (because your poetry might not make you much money)

4) Luck (Because you might need some luck getting published since there are so many other great poets out there)

5) A Pen and Paper (If you’ve got an idea, just start writing and see where it goes.)

If you were to encourage others to write poetry, what would you tell them?

Write for fun. Write for self-expression. Write what you want, and don’t expect to become rich or famous from your poetry. But keep on writing and keep on promoting and keep on submitting poems and see where it goes. “There’s always hope. There’s always hope…I hope.” (The “there’s always hope” line is also the next to last line in a novel I wrote (as yet, unpublished) called “Cemetery of Lies.” Cemetery of Lies is a collection of intimate, secret confessions, as told from beyond the grave, through video tombstones. You can see more about it at www.barrows.com/novel.html

How would you finish these three sentences:

Poetry teaches…self-expression and self-understanding, in much the same was as any writing or thinking will do.

Poetry heals by… letting you express yourself to yourself and others

To be a poet, you need to…start writing poetry and keep writing poetry when the mood strikes you.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Entertainment , Business, VC funding, and Sports read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love to have lunch with a very talented Literary Agent and a great big Publisher.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can see some of my poetry in two books of poetry called “Crazy Robert’s Poems and Potential Song Lyrics” and “Crazy Robert’s More Great Poems and Potential Song Lyrics”…featuring a poem called “The New Coronavirus Blues.” You can download those books for a dollar each on Amazon.

Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Roy Lewis: “Listen to your thoughts even if they aren’t concrete on the subject, write what what you see so far”

    by Heidi Sander
    Community//

    Shameeca Funderburk: “Poetry can help heal because it can take you to a place that allows true confessions of the heart”

    by Heidi Sander
    Community//

    Raul Herrera of Get Lit — Words Ignite: “You don’t have to be a poet to write poetry, you simply have to be human”

    by Heidi Sander
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.