DOWNERS GROVE - Between multiple jobs, raising two children and moving to Virginia, former Downers Grove resident William Vollrath has spent the last 50 years creating short poems based off ideas that simply “pop into his head.” Those poems have turned into a new recently published collection called “My Third Eye is Blurry.”
“These are just a collection of poems throughout my life,” Vollrath said. “If there is a central theme to them, I'd say it's that life is a bit of a mystery to finding meaning and direction.”
Vollrath, 71, began writing his poems in his 20s or 30s and they represent strong feelings about a variety of topics and also offer some humor. Vollrath said most of the poems in the 74-page collection are short and to the point.
“The poems are just something that I felt about writing about at the moment,” Vollrath said. “Many times, when I'm waking up at six in the morning, I suddenly will get an idea about something. Then, later in the day, I'll write the poem and often all edit it a couple times before I really like it.”
One of the 57 poems in the collection is titled “Deep Fried Twinkies” and was inspired by the Illinois State Fair. Another one titled “Too Bright,” illustrates how “sometimes bad things happen to good people,” Vollrath said.
“A lot of my poems are a little bit philosophical and they don't hit you over the head with a message, it's kind of in the background,” he said.
Vollrath said the name of the collection is based off one of his poems written about 20 years ago when many people were talking about the Mayan calendar and end of the world. He said it seemed appropriate for these days and our uncertain future.
“I had been wanting to publish a collection of my best poems for several years,” he said. “The pandemic gave me lots of free time to just do it, and my advancing age motivated me to get it done ASAP.”
Vollrath has helped conduct state poetry society association annual contests in both Illinois and Virginia and has published two chapbooks of poetry, "Neon Windows" and "Make Mine Rare."
Vollrath said he’s been interested in literature since high school with his favorite poets ranging from Rumi to Charles Bukowski. After high school, he later went on to get his bachelor’s degree in political science from Wittenberg University and his master’s degree in journalism from Ohio State University.
While in college, Vollrath worked many jobs such as an English teacher, gravedigger, real estate appraiser and bartender.
Later on, he got into advertising in the newspaper industry for five years, which later led him to become a financial advisor at Paine Webber for 30 years. During these 30 years, Vollrath lived in Downers Grove with his wife Renee and two children.
Vollrath said he retired 10 years ago and has lived in Virginia ever since.
“We miss the friendly people of the Midwest, but a lot of people we know have moved to Virginia, so we still get to enjoy that a little bit,” Vollrath said.
“My Third Eye is Blurry” can be found on Amazon.