Being a part of the literary scene can bring you into contact with a number of interesting people. Bob McNeil of QBR is one such individual. In addition to be an author and poet, McNeil is often working in capacity as host for book related events around New York City. Whether it is the outdoor stage at the Harlem Book Fair or Jackie Robinson Poetry Day, McNeil’s mic presence is undeniable. Today, we have a chance to hear from Bob regarding his writings, and what motivates him.
Polite On Society: When did you start writing?
Bob McNeil: No doubt about it, of all the questions I get, this one never becomes tiresome. Both my parents were bibliophiles. So, not surprisingly, when I was six years old, my father gave me a book of poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson. Sure enough, from that day, I fell in love with the art form. Over the subsequent days, months and years, I wrote with great fervor. Even up until now, the love of the medium has not waned in the least.
POS: What motivates you as a poet?
Bob: This, above all others, is a great question. Each human is isolated in a hermitage of skin and bones. Conversation with another mortal releases us from ourselves. Through language, we create windows to give people insights into who we are as individuals. Poetry works the same way. Every poem is a cathartic testimonial to the world. For me, my motivation comes from a compulsion to grapple with personal problems or global problems. Because of those two extremes, my imagination is always busy.
POS: You are a writer who maintains a great presence in the literary community of New York. How do you balance this with making the necessary time to write new material?
Bob: You are a very perceptive person, brother. Recitals, which can pay well, take time away from writing. Rehearsing for a performance takes dedication. Preparing submissions to publishers, editors and event coordinators is a lengthy process as well. Seriously, it is a source of frustration sometimes. Those things take me away from working on a story, an essay, or a poem. But, don’t get me wrong, I love getting my work out there in the literary community. I just wish there were more hours in a day.
POS: Tell us about your book entitled Verses of Realness.
Bob: The compositions in Verses of Realness want to serve as weapons against racism, ageism, sexism, and any other ism that tries to oppress people. The book is composed of anthems for people who strive to make the world a place that can accommodate everyone. These verses, with each turn of a page, try to trounce tyranny.
Perhaps an objective voice can explain my work better than I. Hal Sirowitz, a Queens Poet Laureate, described my book in the following manner: “A fantastic trip through the mind of a poet who doesn’t flinch at the truth.”
James Browning Kepple, yet another great poet, wrote this about my book: “By going deep inside our own selves, Bob McNeil guides the way to a new and improved view of what our world should be—something real and honest.”
Accolades aside, I am just a humble scribe who wants to be a voice of righteousness.
Max Rodriguez, the Founder of the Harlem Book Fair, will publish my work in February, 2018. More details about the work will be shared soon. While awaiting that date, feel free to contact him about my poetic collection at this address: email@example.com.
POS: Can you tell us about your poetry CD Rapping You with the Facts?
Bob: My album, Rapping You with the Facts, is a response to the negative aspects of human existence. Each composition addresses pertinent issues in the tradition of Gil Scott-Heron and the Last Poets. Speaking of the Last Poets, Abiodun Oyewole wrote the following about my work: “The message is clear, the music is solid and the presentation is strong. The consciousness in Bob’s poetry is so very much needed today.”
Disgust with rappers who ignore political and social issues, but brag about their wealth is the subject of one song on my album. Another track delves into my hatred for the N-word, the most pervasive pejorative around. Other tracks deal with selling out for acceptance, police brutality and America’s history of bias.
Not only will the songs make you think, they will make your feet tap. Gifted musicians helped me develop some infectious melodies and rhythms.
All those who are interested in hearing some deep lyrics and music, the CD, Rapping You with the Facts, can be purchased for the nominal amount of $3.00, plus $2.00 postage and handling.
For further enquires about this CD, write me at P.O. Box 144, Hollis, NY 11423 or mcneil_bob@ yahoo.com or call me at 929-300-5926.
POS: What would you tell an aspiring poet?
Bob: To be a poet, you must read voraciously. Think of literature as nutrition, a poet has to consume it. The books are meals. Savor them. Learn from them. Be influenced by those meals. Don’t imitate them. Be your own recipe. It will start with an ingredient. In time, fate willing, people will marvel at your palatable creations.
POS: Do you have any creations that you want to share with my readers?
Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. Here are some sites that may interest your wonderful audience:
I just want to say in conclusion that it is always a pleasure to correspond with a talented poet like you, Marc. Thank you for taking an interest in my modest work. Namaste.
I’d like to thank Bob McNeil for taking the time to speak with me, and give valuable insight to budding poets out there.