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‘Poetry Train America’

Princeton poet rides the rails

Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:49 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:52 p.m. CST
Caption
(BCR photo/Goldie Currie)
Princeton-based poet John E. WordSlinger stands outside of the Princeton Depot with his published book of poetry titled, "Poetry Train America." The story behind why the book was written is unique, as WordSlinger never aspired to write it; he, more or less, felt obligated to write it to portray a message to fellow authors to beware of the publishing industry and how easily it can turn on authors.

PRINCETON — Princeton-based poet John E. WordSlinger is speaking out about his published work titled, “Poetry Train America.”

WordSlinger began writing poetry when he was 17 years old.

“Everyone at that age is told they have to be something. I had a rough upbringing. I worked ever since I was 14. But I always felt I was into things that were artistic, music mainly, but words, too. I also have always had a speech problem, and so I think (writing poetry) was a calling,” he explained. “I’ve gone down the wrong road in life, but later on I realized I wanted to change my life and be known for poetry.”

“Poetry Train America” was written in Princeton and published on July 4, 2012. Currently, WordSlinger is working on his second book titled, “Poetry Train Canada.”

“Poetry Train America” is a combination of storytelling, poets, poetry and railways presented using America’s 20 states as a backdrop. Three men travel the country in 2012 to write a documentary on poets and the railroad. When they sleep they get taken back in time to the 19th Century when the roads were being built and meet key poets and figures. Upon waking up they have conversations with poets from the 20th Century and railroad events.

The story behind why “Poetry Train America” was written is unique in a way as WordSlinger never aspired to write it; he, more or less, felt obligated to write it to portray a message to fellow authors to beware of the publishing industry and how easily it can turn on authors.

WordSlinger was once one of 40,000 poets who shared works on a public poetry site called Originalpoetry.com. The website provided a space for poets to post and discuss their works and network with one another, until the webmaster abandoned the website and the poets lost their connection.

“We all made the mistake of not looking into the site until we had posted (our work),” he said. “There was a lot of people that got hurt from this. They’re hurt to this day and afraid to post or share their poems anywhere else.

“I thought for days and days on how to save this site, and finally I discovered that I couldn’t save it. But what I could do was let the world know my story and help put a stop to things like that,” he explained.

Using inspiration from one of his favorite poets, Alphonso G. Newcomer, who writes about conversations with old-time poets, like Edgar Allen Poe, the idea for “Poetry Train America” slowly came alive. He Incorporated railroads because he feels the railroad and publishing industries are parallel in that they can both be timeless, yet destructing. The research involved to write the book was quite extensive, WordSlinger admits.

“I think there were maybe five days out of the time it took me to write it that I couldn’t deal with it, but the rest of the time I was just researching,” he said, adding that it took two and one half years to write and research history of the railroads and poets from the 19th and 20th century eras.

WordSlinger’s book can be purchased online at www.Lulu.com and through Facebook at Poetry E. Train. His website is poetrytrain.com.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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