Interview: Michael Spring

Image by Matthew Basham

We talk to Michael Spring about his poems “The Circus Train”, “Knife Thrower” and “Open Heart Surgery, 1986” which appeared  in Neon #30.

Your poems “The Circus Train” and “Knife Thrower” both revolve around entertainers. Were they inspired by similar things? Is entertainment and performance a common theme in your writing?

I grew up fascinated with the circus and the metaphors to extraordinary moments in our so-called normal lives. I also like modern dance, performance poetry, futbol, and music (particularly jazz) and martial art demonstrations. I began martial arts when I was six years old and, for myself, still love getting lost in the movements. I am drawn to creativity in action.

The ocean also seems to be a strong presence, evoked by sound in “Open Heart Surgery, 1986” and as a metaphor in “Knife Thrower”. Is this something you were conscious of? What kind of associations do you have with the sea?

I am deeply moved by the sea. It moves my imagination. My dad is a scuba diver and underwater photographer. I know that has been an influence. But I also love the notion that we are made up of water and I see the ocean as a magical place.

Did any particular experience lead you to write “Open Heart Surgery, 1968”? What significance is there to the date in the title?

I had open heart surgery performed on me in 1968. I was five years old. And the heart-lung machine they used was a new thing… and very old compared to what they use now.  I remember the event as a surreal and mystical experience and hope to have captured that in the poem.

You mention that you are poetry editor for The Pedestal Magazine. Can you tell us a bit more about that publication?

The Pedestal Magazine is an online magazine featuring poets, prose writers, and artists. The Pedestal Magazine also includes book reviews, interviews, and has recently added a spoken word section. It was founded ten years ago by John Amen, an accomplished poet and musician.

Do you have any other work available online? Where can readers find out more about you?

Yes, I have three books of poetry. My most recent book, Root of Lightning, was awarded an honorable mention in the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award. It is also nominated for The American Book Award, winners TBA later this year. My books can be found on or directly ordered from me for 12 US dollars: Michael Spring, POBox 692, O’Brien, OR 97534 USA.


Michael Spring is the author of three poetry collections: blue crow, Mudsong, and Root of Lightning. His poems have appeared in The Atlanta Review, DMQ Review, The Dublin Quarterly, Gavea-Brown, The Midwest Quarterly, NEO, and The Oregonian. He is currently poetry editor for The Pedestal Magazine.