Story By Wil Crews/ Photos Contributed
Auburn resident Robert Wilson has always dreamed of getting his poems published. That dream has now become a reality.
Since Wilson sat down and wrote his first poem in 1968, he has amassed a collection of over 400 short stories.
About 90% of his poems “can be read from behind the pulpit,” Wilson said, as many of his poems carry a religious theme throughout.
“Its best you go in the bathroom and lock the door,” Wilson said about the other 10% of his poems.
Always a poet at heart, Wilson hasn’t always been a poet in reality. From 1956 to 1960, Wilson was a gunner in the U.S. Navy.
“I am wearing a Navy hat, but I am an Alabama fan,” he joked.
Wilson’s time in the service took him overseas, where he experienced cultures “that no black man had seen” at that time.
“I enjoyed [my time in the Navy], but I didn’t like it enough to stay in,” Wilson said. “I got to see the world, see a lot of places I wouldn’t have seen, met a lot people I wouldn’t have met.”
Deciding that he did not want to spend his entire career in the service, Wilson travelled to New York City shortly after exiting the Navy in 1960. It was there that he worked for NBC studios at the famous Rockefeller Plaza for eight years.
Following his time in the Big Apple, Wilson moved to Opelika and got a job at Uniroyal Tire Company.
“That was the highest paying job around here at that time,” Wilson said.
He would spend the better part of 25 years there before retiring. With no job and extra free time, Wilson really began to dig into his poetry.
Wilson said his first poem was about traveling through outer space. It was short, he said. But his overall collection of poems from one verse to 130.
“After that I started writing about different things,” Wilson said.
Today, Wilson typically writes his poem at night, as the world stills around him.
“I can be lying in bed at night, thinking, and get up and write two or three stories,” he said.
Having his poems published would “mean a lot,” to Wilson, he said. But what he told Maegan Hamner, employee at Monarch Estates — the assisted living center where Wilson lives — more accurately expresses the heart of the poet’s excitement.
“After I told Mr. Wilson that his poems might be featured in a newspaper or magazine, he said ‘I’m going to be famous,’” Hamner said.