May 1, 2009

Virtual Book Tour - Poet, Harry Gilleland

For his month's Virtual Book Tour, I am please to be hosting poet Harry Gilleland.

Harry E. Gilleland, Jr. is a 64-year-old southerner. Born and raised in Macon, Georgia, he earned a B.S. (1966) and a M.S. (1968) in Microbiology from the University of Georgia in Athens. Following three years of service in the U.S. Army as a captain, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, he returned to earn a Ph.D. in Microbiology from UGA in 1973. He then headed north to complete a two-year fellowship at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. In July of 1975 he joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. After twenty-nine years of teaching microbiology to medical and graduate students and performing vaccine research, Harry retired in July of 2004. Today Harry lives in Shreveport with his wonderful wife Linda. Harry enjoys being able to engage in his passion for writing full-time.

Lets get to know a little more about Harry.

Harry, can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?

Actually, this happened the first time while I was a graduate student studying for my Ph.D. A journal article I had written for the Journal of Bacteriology, a highly prestigious journal, was accepted with minor changes required. I knew then I could write scientific material well.

It happened again when I started writing poetry. After learning more of the craft required, I knew I was a real poet when I started getting readers on Internet poetry forums telling me I needed to publish my work since it was good enough to be published.

What is going on with your writing these days?

I write poems as they come to me, not as often as in the past. I have an action-adventure novel in the starting phase.

What are your future goals for your writing?

To get better and better as a poet and to get my novel finished within the next year.

Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

Since I am retired, I write in spurts throughout the day. I will write whenever the mood hits me during the day from early morning until late at night after midnight. I write for several hours, then have to move around to loosen my arthritic joints and back. Essentially, I have no set schedule or output requirements for each day. I write as I am driven to write.

Why do you write?

Writing is pure pleasure to me. Using words well so that I deliver my message precisely as intended gives me such a feeling of satisfaction on those occasions when I feel I have accomplished this.I have so much I want to say that I have to write. It fulfills a need deep inside me. Plus, I want to leave behind something to represent who I was for posterity. I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to know what sort of man I was once they reach adulthood. Even if I am dead by then, my writing will be their window into my mind.

What writer most inspires you? Why?

Poe (and Tennyson) I have loved their rhyming poetry since high school English classes. They are my idea of great poets.

How do you define your writing?

I see myself primarily as a poet whose storoems and poems address everyday topics in a way that speaks to the common man, people that don’t normally read or like poetry. You don’t need a M.F.A. to understand and enjoy my poetry. Yet some of my poems address profound subjects. I’d call my writings thought-provoking and engaging.

In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?

This fellow had a lot of wisdom and insight into the world we live in and human nature.

Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?

A sampling of my poetry and the covers of my five books are available at Gilleland Poetry:

Information about my five books is available here:

I have poetry posted at and at and I have a blog at, Facebook, and WordPress.

Is there a place where readers can reach you?

Sure. I can be reached by emailing me at .

For new readers—what can they expect when they read your books?

To be engaged emotionally and mentally, as well as being entertained. I want them to laugh as well as cry as they read through one of my books of poetry.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I try to be as honest as I can in my poetry, whether the subject is highly emotionally charged, a routine everyday event, or a humorous piece or even fantasy. I want you as a reader to think in a different way than ever before about the subject, to maybe gain new insight, or to revive old memories. I want you to be well entertained and to feel reading my work was a good investment of your time and money.

Thanks for letting us get to know you Harry. Below is more information on Harry's books and other work.

Harry has previously published three books of his personal poetry:

Poetry For The Common Man: Storoems and Poems (2003, ISBN 1411600649),

Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems (2005, ISBN 1411629272), and

Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man (2008, ISBN 978-1-4357-1242-3).

In addition, Harry has published two books of prose, a tale of fantasy entitled Bob the Dragon Slayer (2005, ISBN 1411633156) and a contemporary romance story entitled White Lightning Road (2006, ISBN 978-1-4116-8693-9).

Harry Gilleland’s poetry recently won two cash awards in the 2008 Tom Howard Poetry Contest associated with Winning Harry’s rhyming storoem The Old Salty Poems won 2nd Place with a $1,000 prize, while his free-verse poem The Assembled Waiters earned $200 for a High Distinction award. Harry was the only poet to win two cash awards in the contest.

Harry Gilleland’s poetry has been included in four multi-author print anthologies of poems and short stories, in several poetry e-zines, and on numerous Internet poetry forums, in addition to his own three published collections. His storoems (story-poems) and poems are readily accessible to all readers, including those who do not regularly read poetry. Harry views the world with a poet’s eye.

Again, to see Harry's books please go to:

To see Harry's book covers and samples of his poetry:

Next week, we'll find out more about Harry's book. Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man.

Personally, I think that's a great title.


Nancy Famolari said...

Excellent interview, Kevin. Harry is such an interesting guy -- enjoyed it.

Gayle said...

Wonderful post. I, too, love Harry's title!

Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

Harry, do you have a musing process in order to write poetry?

Liana said...

I am so glad I read all about Harry's work! It's interesting to get to know a poet-it needs special skills to write poetry, nothing similar to prose. I am looking forward to the second part, Kevin, you did a great job here.

Katie Hines said...

It's great to hear about a poet! Great interview.

Margaret Fieland said...

Thanks for the interesting interview. What is a storopoem? And what inspires you to write a poem? Any favorite sites/tools for poets?

Karen and Robyn - Writing for Children said...

It's always great to read about Harry. I love his title also!


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Harry, I've been wanting to tell you that we tried something at the LA Times Festival of Books. It was a poetry reading from a booth. We did it the last hour on Sunday, five of us poets. Thought it would be something you could try at a local fair.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of She Wore Emerald Then: Relections on Motherhood (a chapbook of poetry)

Harry Gilleland said...

Thank you, Kevin, for your excellent post. You did a great job! I appreciate it.

My thanks and appreciation also go to all who posted a comment. :-)

To answer questions in some of the comments:

Lea, I don't have any formal musings process. I just observe life all around me and write a poem about what strikes my fancy. Poem ideas come from reading the newspaper or magazines, watching TV, hearing some remark from strangers, watching animal behavior, my family, etc, etc. Be observant and ideas present themselves.

Margaret, a storoem is a word I coined to represent my style of writing story (stor-) poems (-oem). A storoem is a story told more fully than in most typical poems but told using poetic techniques (stanzas, end rhyming, alliteration, imagery, enjambent, etc).

As for favorite tools for poets:
Great for help in finding rhyming words.
Bob's Byway explains all sorts of poetic terms and forms.
The Poets Garret explains many different forms of poetry.

Carolyn, thanks for the poetry reading suggestion.

Again, a big thanks you to Kevin and all who commented. :-)



Joyce Anthony said...

Harry, I still love that title! Sometime I'd like to have you read my Vietnam vet chapter in my book and tell me what you think.

Harry Gilleland said...

Greetings, Joyce ~

I'd be glad to read your Vietnam vet chapter in your book. I am away traveling in Ga, SC, & NC from 5 - 16 May. If you'll contact me after I get back, we'll work out the details. It sounds interesting.



Vivian Zabel said...

Kevin, you have a good blog post. Harry is an interesting person.

Sorry I'm late getting around. I just got home from a writing conference.

Donna M. McDine said...

I enjoyed learning about Harry through his interview. Terrific title!

Best wishes,

Dorothy Massey said...

I enjoyed reading the interview with Harry, Kevin. I love Poe and Tennyson too. I also love Keats and Blake.