Growing Up And The Getting Of Wisdom
By Vicki Fletcher @VickiFletcher88
Mark St John is just 26 years young. Young, with the simple desire of finding happiness. Yet he has such wisdom and heavy words of someone far beyond his years. A Sydney local, he has recently published his first book of poetry, aptly titled The Getting Of Wisdom. With the aim of reaching young people who may be struggling with the fences and pitfalls of growing up, Mark St John’s work is altogether insightful, intricate and hopeful. He tells us a little bit about his growing up and the getting of wisdom.
Mark St John, a young writer from Sydney, what can you tell me about yourself?
I’m 26 years old and I am an editor and writer for Inside Rugby Magazine in Sydney. I have been a lover of poetry since an early age and have been writing poetry consistently since I was about 16. I use most of my spare time reading poetry in order to gain inspiration for my own work but mostly I do it for the enjoyment. I have always loved the rhyme and rhythm that poetry offers a reader and am constantly in awe of some of the great writers’ ability to construct simple but profound fragments of song. I am a lover of music as well and if I knew more about music composition and melody I would love to be a songwriter, but I find poetry to be so stimulating and would very much like to see a greater appreciation in society for what many believe has become a lost art.
What are your main influences when writing?
Some of my greatest influences are the great poets and story tellers that have gone before me. People like Charles Bukowski, Maya Angelou, Banjo Paterson and William Ernest Henley to name a few. I’m more attracted to particular poems rather than set poets so I have a wide variety of influences. My favourite book is ‘Legends of the Fall’ by Jim Harrison and my favourite poem is ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley. The subjects that influence my writing are everyday things like love, loss, sadness and the most important thing in life to me which is the pursuit of happiness. I like exploring the pitfalls that can affect an individual’s pursuit of happiness and offer hope for overcoming them. I think poetry and storytelling is the ultimate mechanism for achieving this.
Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
I remember writing a lot of poetry when I was very young but I can’t recall my first ever poem. I only became good at recording and storing my work as I have gotten older. My mum always told me to name and date my poems and I wish I took her advice a lot sooner. The earliest poem I can remember writing was titled ‘A Jumper Coloured Gold’ which was about my dreams to wear a Wallaby jersey and play for Australia when I was younger. It was at my Grandma’s for many years and it came back into my possession when she passed away. It’s named and dated and I’m very glad I’ve kept it.
What is the story behind your first book ‘The getting of wisdom’?
The book is a collection of poetry that I have written over a period of 7 years from my late teens until now. These years have been some of the most eventful, exciting, turbulent and difficult of my life but I wouldn’t change them for anything. The book is a journey of self-discovery and my own pursuit of happiness. I’ve led a very blessed life and had some amazing people to get me through some hard times. Although I have had advantages most would dream of the mind is a tricky thing and sadness doesn’t discriminate. I aim for this book to give others a kindred spirit and knowledge that there are other people out there going through the same things as you in this tricky business of growing up. Sadness and happiness are eternally intertwined in my opinion and we need them both to live full lives. My main message would be to hang in there because all of us are capable of finding happiness but we can’t let the sadness grow inside us.
You aim to raise money to support the Sydney Children’s Hospital with the sale of your book. What has inspired that?
I just think children are the future and they deserve to be happy and healthy so they can focus on changing our world for the better. There are kids out there who have had to deal with enormous hardships for no other reason than the luck of the draw. Sadness has been the greatest evil in my life so if I can help alleviate some sadness from young children’s lives I will be a happy man. It’s incredibly important to me to help ease human suffering. There is no human suffering quite so bad as that of young people struggling with physical and emotional difficulties. They deserve the chance as we all do to find happiness.
Do you have any favourite spots to write in Sydney?
I could write absolutely anywhere and I am lucky in that sense that I’ll wake up in the middle of the night in the pitch black and words will come to me and ease some of the troubles going on in my mind. Not everyone knows how to rid themselves of those troubles so I hope that in reading my book it will encourage others to write and get their troubles on paper as opposed to roaming around in their heads. Having said that I live in Rose Bay and am very lucky to have the beautiful surroundings of that area in which to write. There is a beautiful library up near Redleaf Pool just up from Rose Bay. You can sit and overlook the pool under the trees and write for hours. Being surrounded by nature is the perfect way to get the creative juices flowing I find. I think they even have a yearly poetry reading and a monthly book club in that very spot where budding writers can come and read out their works.
Finally, do you have anything coming up / recently released that we should know about?
I am working on a collection of short stories that I aim to release in the next year and I also have a biography and a travel journal in the works. ‘The Getting of Wisdom’ is my first published book and I have been working pretty hard to promote it. Not for any financial reward although I don’t believe any writer would ever turn their back on some financial success. The truth is I truly believe my book has a message that can help young kids out there and if I can help just one struggling kid to find some happiness in their life I’ll be very content. What’s a writer after all if there’s no one to read his words?
To purchase a copy of ‘The Getting of Wisdom’ please visit http://www.markstjohnpoetry.com/