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Greg Wilder Interview - Cyber Smut

Updated: Aug 7

Greg's poem 'I’d Give Her the Dickinson' is in our Cyber Smut anthology, release date 15 September. For pre-orders visit: gutspublishing.com/books


About your poem ‘I’d Give Her the Dickinson’, tell us about your process and how you arrived at this poem.

I got the idea for ‘I’d Give Her the Dickinson’ last April during National Poetry Month. The seeds were planted when I watched A Quiet Passion, a biographical film about Emily Dickinson’s life. Cynthia Nixon and Emma Bell did such a fantastic job of bringing Emily’s charm and wit and rebelliousness to the screen in that movie; and with all of it only based on what comes across in her writing. And I was just like “Wow, Emily Dickinson is fuckin’ hot!” That’s really where the poem started from. I went on a walk that afternoon and almost the entire poem came to me all at once. I actually had to stop and type it all out in my phone to capture it. My writing process is usually much different; random spurts of stanzas or lines will come to me and I end up assembling everything into a finished piece later on. It’s not often that I can sit and write one from start to finish like I did with this one. Plus, it’s not completely about Emily Dickinson either, although a lot of it really is inspired by her. At the time I was writing it I was having a fling with a woman who also wrote poetry. So everything at the time just blended together with the idea of Emily becoming a metaphor for the poem. So in a way, Emily is kind of like an amalgamation for some of the femme poets I know personally and who attract me with their Dickinson-like wit and rebelliousness as well.


How do your poems differ when they are on the page and when they are spoken out loud? Or do they differ?

There’s actually a lot of interplay between how my poems come across on the page and how they are out loud. Almost all of the poems I write, I write with the intention that they are going to be performed out loud, so my writing process has started to become finding that balance between how it will look on the page to represent how it sounds in person. Ever since I first heard a recording of Allen Ginsberg reciting his poetry it has had a huge effect on the way I write and perform my poems as well. I would have to say that there’s something really great about making a piece come to life and have it be something more than just words on paper.


Do you have a poem that you perform more often than others?

I think the poem that I’m most recognized for in my local open mic circuit and the one that I get the most requests to perform is called ‘Forecast’. But most people just call it the “Sexy Weathergirl Poem” because of the repeating phrase “What’s the forecast sexy weathergirl?” that separates each short stanza. In a lot of ways, ‘Forecast’ relates to ‘I’d Give Her the Dickinson’; with the “sexy weathergirl” being both a metaphor and in actuality the cute meteorologist on one of our local news stations. But my favourite poem to perform is called ‘Addicted to Poetry’. It’s actually a little raunchy too; I think it’s another one that would fit in well with your publications… I performed it at a Slam one night when a reporter for the Albany Times Union was there and she did a quick interview with me afterwards, as well as featuring the poem in her article. So I’m probably one of the only poets who’s been recorded saying “Would you suck a dick for some Edgar Allan Poe?” in a newspaper article (LMAO).


Do you want to talk about the healing power of poetry? How do you experience it? How do you share it with others?

Wow, it’s hard to put the healing power of poetry into the right words… It’s like when Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said: “[I can’t describe pornography] but I know it when I see it.” Poetry has a kind of power that can’t be explained, but you know it when you feel it. Art and writing, in general, are both a very immersive and meditative experience. For me, it’s being able to lose track of hours writing or editing or working on an illustration and at the end of it all, having the feeling of accomplishment that comes with the creative process. Plus, sometimes to get through stressful periods it can be pretty helpful to just spill your guts out on the page. I guess that’s the foundation of what I try to pass on to our clients who are in the same place I was when I started in recovery.


Tell us about your work as an intern at the treatment center. Has this had an effect on your writing?

Interestingly enough, I actually got the internship at the same treatment center that I attended to get clean. I loved it there and pretty much had it set in my mind from the start that I was gonna come back to work there some day. My experience as an intern at the facility has been helping facilitate the “Recovery Writing”, “Expressive Arts”, and “Perform” groups. “Perform”, specifically, is pretty cool because we’ve been able to work out funny improv skits or open mic events for the clients to perform for all the clients and staff on certain Friday afternoons. It’s great to see everyone band together toward a common goal and the spark of creativity that can happen when a bunch of recovering addicts get together to work on something. I can’t say for sure the effect that it’s had on my writing, but I can see how much of a positive effect it has on my life. Things have been pretty shitty this year with the whole pandemic situation, especially in New York. They had to close the facility for months because of it. So it has definitely been an eye-opener to realize how fulfilling my work there has been in the amount of time I’ve been left without it.


Tell us about your studies at SUNY. What’s your favorite part of your course?

I actually just graduated with an A.A.S. in Human Services this May! I finished my degree with High Honours too... I do plan on still continuing my education though. I’m currently in the process of transferring over to the University of Albany to work on my Bachelors in Psychology and English. I think my favourite part about going back to school is actually wanting to be there and be involved for once. When I was in high school all I wanted to do was leave and go get high and work on music all day. It’s way different when you decide to go to school by choice instead of force I guess.


About your stage name, how did you come up with Slay! The Dragon?

When I first started performing at open mics, it was under the name “Kid Flash” because of my love for superhero culture and the way I always seem to be rushing around everywhere. I started thinking about changing it to something a little more original though and when I was at an open mic one night it suddenly hit me. There’s a hallway filled with graffiti paintings at one of the venues I frequent and the word “Slay” on the wall just jumped out at me. “Slay”, in this case, being like the colloquialism for when you’re killin’ it… I’m a big fan of old Kung Fu movies too, so “The Dragon” was inspired by watching a lot of Bruce Lee films around that time. And the exclamation point in between is kind of a nod to the band “Panic! at the Disco”. So “Slay! The Dragon” is like a big mix-up of all these elements using an otherwise familiar term.


Describe yourself in 3 words.

Kung Fu Kerouac


I would also consider “Pink Cloud Poetry” (Which is the name of my first published poetry collection, available in paperback internationally on Amazon for only $9.99 and soon to be released as a special edition e-book!). Figured I’d throw in a shameless plug while I’m here. ^__^


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Greg Wilder (also known by the stage name Slay! the Dragon) is an award-winning writer, full-time student, and spoken word performer, currently residing in Schenectady, N.Y. After a long, downhill battle with alcohol and drug addiction, Greg entered treatment in June of 2017 and rediscovered the therapeutic potential of art and writing. Today, with over 3 years clean, Greg shares the healing power of poetry with other recovering addicts as an intern for a drug and alcohol treatment center. Greg studies Human Services and English at SUNY Schenectady.



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