First Cut: Interview with Stephen J. Golds

The first book in the First Cut Poetry series, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once by Stephen J. Golds, was released one year ago. To celebrate, I’ve had a chat with Stephen about his brilliant poetry collection, what he’s been up to since its release, and his plans for the future.


Tell us about Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once.

Poems for Ghosts were poems written during a bleak period of my life. I wasn’t doing so great mentally. Had compiled a heap of broken relationships and other assorted disappointments. This collection was my medication. I wrote so many poems at this time to try and work my way through the mess inside my head.

The title Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows was chosen because the majority of the poems were written for or about women who I had loved but weren’t in my life anymore. They had become ghosts in windows seen from below. Memories. 

Sum up the main themes in your collection in 10 words or less.

Love poems written by a depressant who occasionally enjoys arson. 

My Parents Worried

At six years old
chewing bubble gum,
I enjoyed playing
Russian Roulette
with a cap gun.

© Stephen J. Golds / Poems for Ghosts (2020)

Your favourite poem(s) in the collection and why?

The Japanese Marilyn Monroe. It’s one of the poems that means the most to me because it’s the first time I tried to write a proper sonnet and it’s about the most poisonous relationship I’d ever had with the most beautiful woman I’d ever met. I think everyone has that one rollercoaster relationship in their life. That poem is about mine. 

I saw the woman
who tossed the diamond necklace
I’d bought her off
a downtown Hanoi hotel balcony
into the deep blue
of a swimming pool below.
Who kissed me softly
on the face in a back-alley clap clinic
after a Friday lunch and
after six shades of roses.

– excerpt from An Ode to The Japanese Marilyn Monroe
© Stephen J. Golds / Poems for Ghosts (2020)

What are your writing habits?

Poetry I write on absolutely everything, anytime, anywhere. I’ve got shoeboxes full of scraps of poems that I should go through some day. But I need to be in the mood to write poetry. 

Prose I tend to write on my phone or on my computer, usually at night or the early hours of I can’t sleep. (before it broke).  

Name 3 books: 1 book from your childhood, 1 you’re currently reading, and 1 you’re looking forward to reading.

Childhood book has got to be Jurassic Park. I know, that’s not a kids book, but I read it over and over again when I was eleven years old. I think it might’ve sparked my love for books as it was the first thing I really read. Ah, Point Horror, loved those as a kid too. 

Currently not reading anything as I’m working on finishing my next novel and don’t want to be influenced by any other styles but my own. 

Looking forward to reading The Butcher’s Prayer by Anthony Neil Smith as that’s next on my TBR pile. 

I’ll Give It Your Name

“Right here”, I said. “I want your mark on me.”
She trembling, holding the straight razor,
couldn’t do it, hurt me that way.
It wasn’t in her nature, she said.

But she fucked a guy she met
from the internet instead.

© Stephen J. Golds / Poems for Ghosts (2020)

What’s one poem you wish you’d written?

Ah shit, there’s so many, but it’s got to be WB Yeats — Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven. I have that poem tattooed in script on my chest. Love the last stanza. 

Tell us about your future writing plans?

I’ve put poetry on hold for a while, because I’m feeling pretty good mentally lately and don’t have any demons to write away and I really want to focus on my novels. Finishing the final draft on my fourth. The fifth is halfway through its first draft and I have the following two planned out. 



About the poet

Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the co-editor of Punk Noir Magazine. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw OnceCut-throat & Tongue-tied, Bullet Riddled & Gun Shy and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.


Get your copy of Poems for Ghosts.

Read my review of Poems for Ghosts.

Check out the other books in the First Cut Poetry series.

Follow Stephen on Twitter: @SteveGone58

Follow me on Twitter: @HLRwriter

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