Interview With Chuck Gallagher

As many of my readers know, from time to time I deviate from my traditional blogs on business and social issues and open the doors to my readers of new works that expand horizons. This is true for an interview I offered about a new book – “Melpomene” – the link to purchase the books is here.

Gwendolyn, you’ve written a book entitled “Melpomene” tell my readers a bit about your book.

Melpomene is my fifth book and the second one I have written under my real name. Named after the Ancient Greek Muse of tragedy, Melpomene is a thematic anthology of poetry/prose. The focus is on the tragic elements of life and the style of the content is centered on the type of poetry written by Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Blake – namely the French Decadent/Symbolist art movement and the Fin de Siècle (End of the Century).

Melpomene is therefore concentrated on works which have quite bleak ideas, but yet remain beautiful and haunting in their imagery. Overall the intention is to convey beauty in a context where it is not normally unexpected.

What was your motivation in writing this book?

Melpomene started as a personal interest project. Over the last couple of years I have been working with non-fiction and am mostly known for my essays on Perennial Philosophy. However, my earliest writing was in the format of poetry/prose and the first time I was published was as a poet in the ‘New Zealand Collection of Poetry and Prose 2002’. So with Melpomene I wanted to return to my literary roots.

Your book is segregated into four sections – Book of Magic – Book of Sorrow – Book of Fate – Book of Death. Tell my readers about the significance of each of the four sections?

I selected these sections as being representational of the cycle of time itself, because the passage of time is the factor which causes the greatest element of tragedy in human existence. The first section – Magic – is symbolic of the creation of life. Also included in the Book of Magic are the poems/prose/fiction pieces with supernatural themes. As time passes, tragic experiences become inevitable (thus Sorrow is the second principle). Towards the end of the life cycle Fate plays its hand and individuals become aware of their inevitable end – which for all humans is the final section; the Book of Death. The tragic element in the Book of Fate is that one has an expectation of what lies ahead.

The Book of Death is of course the final end of the cycle of existence, which is why it is also the principle cause of tragedy.

Which of the four sections mentioned above is most significant to you personally and why?

The Book of Death is personally the most significant for me, and my own writing ‘The Dance of Kali’ is included in this section. It is especially significant to me not so much because it is the end of the life cycle, but because of what it means symbolically. My piece is symbolist fiction, and it is inspired by a combination of Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ and Rimbaud’s ‘A Season In Hell’. The symbolism I have employed in it is that Death represents a metaphysical and tautological truth which lies shrouded in esotericism, as one of the greatest mysteries of human experience – because it can only be normally experienced once. I have approached Death as being the mirror image of Life, and contrasted the symbolism of both with anthropomorphized concepts found in philosophy and art – Truth and the quest for Beauty. ‘The Dance of Kali’ does not symbolize physical death, but rather the progress of an initiate in the mysteries towards enlightenment and knowledge.

What do you hope the reader will gain from your book?

I would hope that they enjoy the book and discover more about the new and emerging writers. When I was putting the book together I was surprised by some of the talent that was submitted, and I am quite convinced that some of the writers will go on to achieve greater things. I would like to see the readers continue to explore their works and help support these aspiring authors.

How, by the way, did you go about selecting the poetry that is included in the collection?

A large amount of works were submitted and it was very difficult to choose which ones should be selected. The main criteria I used was the emotional response elicited by the writing, and whether or not genuine feeling was expressed in the text.

Out of the classic works which were selected, most of them were popular favorites. One of the lesser known pieces I included was William Blake’s Book of Thel. This I included because of its early use of Symbolist technique and its metaphysical approach to life. With the exception of this, all the poems by Baudelaire, Blake, Poe, Dickinson and Verlaine are the more well-known pieces.

A number of my readers are in the media, so as we conclude this interview – what two things would you want them to know about the uniqueness of your book?

The main thing I would like to reiterate with the uniqueness of this book is that because it is approached thematically, it provides not only the option to revisit classics by favorite authors, but also the opportunity to explore the works of new writers who will surely go on to achieve fame in their own right one day. Melpomene provides a fascinating opportunity to read some early pieces by authors before they reach the pinnacle of their career.

Interview taken from