As an award-winning author of 18 books on poetry for children, including the International Reading Association’s prestigious Young Adults Choices award, the Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Achievement Award, the Independent Publisher Gold Book Award and Mom’s Choices Gold Medal, Brod Bagert has brought joy to families and, in particular, youngsters everywhere.
A happily married man to wife of more than 46 years Debby, Bagert has just released his new book Captain Perseverance: How I Became A Superhero, which is already receiving rave reviews across the board. You can check out our review at the bottom of the page, but, first, delve into Bagert's life as he talks writing inspiration, family time and hobbies by reading the interview below.
What’s your name? Where can we find you?
Brod Bagert, and via my
as well as
How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?
As a poet, I’m not really doing characters profiles or plot outlines. I don’t even begin with any particular idea or structure for a book. I just write lots and lots of poems, until, somewhere along, the way I notice that a few of them share a common theme. If I like the theme, I begin to sift through a couple hundred poems to find others that relate to the same theme. I put what I find in a single file and begin to organize them in a sequence that best develops the theme. The idea is for each poem to build on and resonate with the others so that the whole is greater than the parts. At this point in the process, I often find gaps and have to write additional poems to fill.
Once I’ve gotten everything in a functional order, I start the marathon process of rewriting: eliminating forced rhymes, fixing rhythm flaws, powering up beginnings or endings, striking and/or replacing whole stanzas. Dozens of ruthless rewrites for each poem, especially if I’m writing for children. I don’t want to have some innocent child stumbling over my rhythm flaws (When the manuscript is finished and on my editors’ desk, the rewriting starts all over again. It’s a bit brutal, but it’s worth the effort.).
Finding the title comes last. I do it by the process of elimination. I make a list of every phrase in the collection that could possibly work as a title. Then I begin eliminating candidates until I’m left with the title.
What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?
I think my strength is love and passion for my audience. I’ve written thousands of poems, worked to perfect basic skills, developed a handful of original techniques, imposed on myself a slew of personal aesthetic rules, and am willing to rewrite forever to make it work. But all of this is driven by love and passion for my audience. I love my audience with every fiber of my being, and I am driven by an unquenchable passion to fill their hearts with a poetry that makes them a little happier and a little stronger. And I really mean a little. I’m not talking about salvation here. I’m not aiming to be the pillar of anybody’s life.
And my weakness? Hmmm ... I hate to say this, but I have very little tact in disagreement. It’s not that I’m unwilling to engage ideas with which I disagree. It’s just that I engage at a level of intensity that’s hard for most folks to handle. I’m improving with age, but I regret missed opportunity for collegial exchange of ideas.
Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?
My wife and I spend a lot of time with our family, which consists of four grown children, their spouses, and six grandchildren. They are all very interesting people who actually like each other and never miss an opportunity to hang out. As a lifelong New Orleanian, I’m pretty much a Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras junkie -- it comes with the territory.
I also love to read. I’m a little ADD, so staying attentive to non-fiction has always been a bit of a challenge. A few years back, however, I was introduced to the world of audio books, so now I read fiction and listen to non-fiction quite frequently.
Additionally, I have always enjoyed being active. I do the occasional sprint (very short) triathlon, an activity in which I run slower than the slowest walkers. For years, my wife and I have worked out regularly at our local gym. And recently we acquired a weekend place in the country: house, trees, a couple of meadows, a gravel road, a city-boy’s dream in its entirety. So these days, more and more, I find myself spending big chunks of time riding a tractor and sharpening chainsaws. Go figure.
As a keen and avid reader of poetry and an advocate of getting young people interested in it (my young nephew is going to be well read - not that he knows that yet!), Captain Perseverance: How I Became A Superhero is one of those books that no matter how old you might be, you're going to want to come back to it.
I have never before come across a poetry book which is so uplifting and inspiring, adorned with colourful illustrations. Growing up can be hard, and, while we all know this to be true, until now, I'd never found a book which so strongly encourages its readers to stay strong and keep pushing forward. The main message of the book is simple -- when life gets tough, don't give up. In a society that has often tormented and depressed the youth of today, this book is a refreshing reminder that the young people in the world are and can be strong, independent people and make a huge difference to not just their own lives but those of others.
I would highly recommend that teachers read this to their students, that libraries have copies on their shelves and that those who read this book feel empowered and confident in themselves -- after all, the youth are the future, and through this book, it's sure to look that little bit brighter.
Captain Perseverance: How I Became a Superhero
is now available on Amazon,
Barnes & Noble