Writer Interview: B. Diehl

This week we’re talking to poet B. Diehl about writing about the everyday, the importance of being true to himself in his writing, and his poetry collection Zeller’s Alley.


When and why did you first start writing?

I started writing forever ago…and I don’t know why. I didn’t start writing poetry until January of 2013, though. I was commuting an hour every weekday to a job I resented, taking online classes for a degree I didn’t want, and trying (and failing) to “win back” a lover who pissed on my heart. During that time, I was really questioning my purpose in life. I kind of wanted to die. Writing poetry was a way to relieve some of my dread. It helped. It still helps. And I’ll never look back.
What do you enjoy writing, and what do you find yourself writing about most often?

I really like writing about mundane tasks: getting the mail, getting gas, going to work, feeling like a lonely turd while sitting in my room with my cats, etc. A critic once told me that my poetry isn’t “universal” enough. He was like, “I feel like I’m reading about B. Diehl. It feels alien to me.” What he didn’t realize: that was a compliment. Personalizing my stuff –– adding little, specific details that directly stem my own life –– is a way for me to stay as original as possible. You’ll never see me writing a universal poem called “Love” or “Misery”. That has all been done already. I just want to be me.
If you were a book character, which character would you be?

This is a tough one. I guess I’d probably be Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye. Or maybe Esther Greenwood from The Bell Jar.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done in the name of writing?

I think the weirdest stuff I’ve done is, quite simply, some of the content I’ve written and recited to audiences. You never really know how a crowd is going to react to a dark-humored poem called “I’m Going to Shoot Myself in the Face in the Perfume Isle at Wal-Mart.” They’ll either fall on the ground laughing, or look like they’re about to hook me up with a suicide hotline number. I read that poem at an event my mom attended once. She probably thinks I need therapy. Haha. It is what it is. I’m a neurotic person with a bad sense of humor. Again, I just want to be me.
Tell me about your poetry collection, Zeller’s Alley.

This two-star review it got on Amazon from some random dude with a gnarly beard kind of explains it:

“I’m from the early eighties, but I haven’t forgotten yet what it feels like to be a teenager. I think the younger generation would not only relate with this book, but also enjoy it for the most part. Nostalgia is what originally triggered this debit card transaction. There were a few parts that brought me back in time, but to be honest, it felt like I was reading a teenagers journal. The book focuses on mundane everyday activities, which would be entertaining if the author was Bukowski. Eccentricities, extraordinary calamities, are necessary to keep the audience enthused if you’re just starting out. Only Bukowski could get away with making a fascinating poem about feeding his cats. This book did bring me straight into the authors life, there’s no denying that. Unfortunately, boredom prevailed. B. Diehl said there’s poetry in everything. That may be true, but it doesn’t mean it’s worth sharing, or writing. Maybe in a few years he’ll evolve as a poet. I think there’s potential. I recommend this book to the millennial generation.”

I’m 27 years old. Zeller’s Alley was started when I was 22 and completed when I was 26. (Work and school and anxiety kept on stalling everything. At times, I went months without working on it at all.) The reason the book feels like a teenager wrote it is because I’m still a teenager at heart. That’s somewhat of a cliché, and a lot of people say that, but it’s the only way I can describe my personality. I’m angsty, I’m pessimistic, and I simultaneously fall in love and hate with everyone I see. The book feels like a journal because that’s basically what it is. I documented my thoughts over a period of time. And I barely edited anything because I wanted it to be raw. It’s a book about feelings and trying to stay sane when everything, including your own mind, seems to working against you. Not everyone likes the book, but thankfully, the positive reviews do outweigh the negative ones. That’s not even the point, though. I saved my own life by writing Zeller’s Alley, and that alone makes it a success.

What do you find the most difficult or challenging about writing?

Staying motivated. Making time. And trying not to think of the term “poetry career” as an oxymoron. The good news is that I love what I do, so I know I’ll keep writing no matter what. I am fortunate in that I have a small but loyal following, and that is more than enough for me.

Tell me about the piece of work that you are most proud of writing, or about the writing accomplishment you are most proud of.

The thing I am most proud of is something I haven’t released or even talked about much yet. All I want to say for now is that it’s 3 times better than Zeller’s Alley, and I can’t wait to share it with people.

What are your writing plans, goals or dreams for the future?
I just want to write as many books as possible. Someday, I hope to have enough money for some kind of tour. I’ve never been away from the East Coast. I want to see California…and, you know…Europe.
B. Diehl is the author of the poetry collection Zeller’s Alley (White Gorilla Press, 2016). His work has been published by Hobart, BOAAT Press, FLAPPERHOUSE, Words Dance, and other venues. When he is not writing, you can usually find him at home, hanging out with his cats and/or feeding his social media addiction.
You can find him on the web at www.mynameisb.net.
Would you like to take part in an interview for the Peeking Cat blog? Email editor@peekingcatpoetry.co.uk

2 thoughts on “Writer Interview: B. Diehl

  1. It is interesting to read, as an older writer, about a younger writer's experiences. I have been writing for a long time but only started to share my poetry after I retired from teaching. Younger writers have grown up with or matured with the Internet which, although not alien to me, was not something I ever thought I would use in the way I do now. It is also interesting to see things from the point of view of someone who lives thousands of miles away from me. Thank you.

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