Creative Living {in process} Interview with Geoff Pope

Hello Hello! I’m back with a new Creative Living {in process} interview!

I’m absolutely delighted to share with you today a little glimpse into the creative life of poet, writer, teacher, jack-of-all-words, Geoff Pope. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, (even a short while), you probably already know that I have a deep love for words, especially poetry. It is through this love that I got the great opportunity to meet Geoff Pope, as we share in our mutual interest in blogging and words.

My main purpose in creating this interview series is to give us all an opportunity to get inspired by the millions of ways people can be creative. Geoff immediately came to my mind  in this capacity. In addition to his poetry, he is creative at every turn—every interaction I’ve had with him has been filled up with creativity! This is exactly what I mean when I talk about living a creative life—seeing the opportunity to be creative and play everywhere {whether you’re an artist/maker/creator by trade, or not}. This is what makes life an amazing journey, but for some reason we often seem to lose this sense of play somewhere along the way to adulthood. Thank you Geoff for reminding me of the possibility to play everywhere, and for being a part of this interview series! Geoff has graciously given me permission to share some of his poems here—so be sure to make it all the way to the end of the post for a poetic conclusion! Without further ado . . .

THE INTERVIEW

The Nitty Gritty

Name: Geoff M. Pope

Where do you live in the world?
Next to a greenbelt in Renton, Washington (south Seattle).

Where do you live online?
website
poetry blog

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do, and how did you arrive where you are today, both creatively and otherwise?

I grew up near a sugarcane field, a bayou, and a golf course in Thibodaux, Louisiana. At the age of 10, my family of four moved to Paducah, Kentucky, where my dad bought a candy factory. I sang in church choirs, played football and ran track, and had some great teammates and carefree friends before I went to Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where I was encouraged by several professors to major in English. From there I went to graduate school at the University of Iowa, where I met several poets, including Michael David Newton, Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas and Neda Miranda Blazevic, and my mentor to this day: Stavros Deligiorgis, who now lives in Athens, Greece.

After earning my M.A. in Literary Studies and working as an assistant editor for several years with the International Writing Program in Iowa City, I moved to the Seattle area where I met and married my wife Jill, have taught English courses for several colleges and universities, worked as a copyeditor and, more recently, as a freelance copywriter.

{Geoff in Washington State Park, Anacortes}


What drew you to poetry? Why do you write poetry?

Fiction drew me to poetry. In college, I was captivated by James Joyce’s story “Araby.” I also became fascinated with how Hawthorne, Welty, Hemingway, Melville, Flannery O’Connor, and other fiction writers wrote. Then an upperclassman linebacker and pole vaulter introduced me to Ovid and e.e. cummings—and I was hooked! From there I devoured poets from Archilochus to Zukofsky and started to compose a poem here and there. I kept writing short fiction but continued to find that writing poetry was—and still is—the best and most satisfying way for me to fully express myself.

We live in a culture that often doesn’t value poetry (perhaps I’m a pessimist?). Why do you think that is? What purpose do you think poetry serves for people/could serve for people?

Most people don’t value poetry because “worldly cares” crowd out the time that’s required to slowly read, reflect upon, and savor a good poem. In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful that God has implanted in the human soul.” To complement Goethe’s emphasis on “the sense of the beautiful,” I think poetry can help us observe life not only in its beauty, but in its ugliness, contradictions, paradoxes, and other intricacies of reality that people face but usually don’t take time to examine and understand. So, poetry can help us to slow down and pay attention to words, emotions, and ideas—increasingly difficult to do in our fast-paced, hi-speed, wireless age. I also believe that poetry can be a great way to worship.

{where the magic happens}

You are a jack-of-many-words; you’re a poet, but you also teach and do copyediting and copywriting. How do you balance these different types of work? How do they influence each other?

Since I got married and started using a FranklinCovey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People daily planner, I’m winning the Balance Battle more often. And my poetry writing, copyediting, and copywriting influence each other in that they are each based on words and include complementary aspects of accuracy, brevity, and clarity.

What fills you up?

Reading, writing, and listening to poetry and other creative writing; teaching enthusiastic and interactive students; praying in the Holy Spirit and in harmony with others.

What is the most wonderful thing about living a creative life?

Being godlike and inspiring others.

What is the most challenging thing about living a creative life?

Pride and patience.

What keeps you going/gets you going again when you’re feeling down/uninspired?

Praise—from respected readers and especially from editors—keeps me going. And when I’m “feeling down/uninspired,” what gets me going is remembering that the process—the journey, the exploring—is the point. In the words of Henry James, “It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance…and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.”

{Geoff with his turtle Zinslow—read Geoff’s poem about Zinslow here}

What advice would you give to someone who would like to live a more creative life?

Read The Artist’s Way (by Julia Cameron), The Creative Process (edited by Brewster Ghiselen), and MegaCreativity (by Andrei G. Aleinikov). Listen to a variety of music. Go to a museum/gallery once a month. Follow a few artistic blogs. Befriend a creative person. Watch Days of Heaven (with the volume off). Be spontaneousoufflé!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing poetry?

Read some every day, listen to some every day, and join a critique group.

What are you dreaming about right now?

Winning the Concrete Wolf 2010 Chapbook Contest and being selected as one of the twelve poets in the 2011 Jack Straw Productions Writers Program.

What’s your favorite . . .

Color – azure
Time of Day – the first three hours after I wake up
Place in your Home – whichever room I’m in
Word – grace
Sound – my wife’s voice
Breakfast Food – Jill’s waffles (with raspberry syrup)

************************

POETIC CONCLUSION

 

Longing for a Poem from a Poet

by Geoff Pope

It’s like the desire a wide receiver has
for a pass. The player’s passion is not
for the quarterback, but for the throw —
the pass, the spiraling ball approaching
. . . and the catch — that familiar but never
fully satisfying feeling of wanting to receive,
especially in a close game that ends up a win.

Or, as my dad says, “It’s like the desire
to see a fastball down the middle . . . .”
The batter’s passion is not for the pitcher —
but the pitch . . . that rotating ball approaching,
creating anticipation of the feel of a hit that will
knock it out of the park!

That’s what I’m yearning for tonight —
almost aching to see, receive, and feel
a poem from a poet who knows how to
advance down the field of a page, line
after line, completion after completion,
hit after hit.

****

God of Grammar
by Geoff Pope

You are the Suffix
and the Prefix.
You are my very
immediate Intensifier.
No doubt, you are
the Definite Article.

O Most Conjunctional Creator,
I am sentenced
with your active verbs,
direct objects, and superlatives.

God of grammar,
of spiritual parts of speech,
Corrector of wrong syntax:
Point out my fragments
and other errors of composition
as I see each of my question marks
straighten up into exclamation points.

*****

Cape and Crown
by Geoff Pope

He sleeps in her weather;
she cuddles his price.

He’s nailing a floorboard.
She’s chainsawing ice.

He’s a worker in timber.
She’s a catering queen.

He’s a backwoods talker.
She’s seven layers deep.

He catches their children;
she kisses their cheeks.

He cleans out the gutters.
She rakes walnut leaves.

He kneels in ragweed.
She flowers the town.

He is her cape.
She is his crown.

*********************

Thanks so much for your words and your creative work and your creative spirit Geoff! Happy creative day to everyone! Thanks for reading! (read all interviews here).

P.S.: Geoff has published a book of poetry called The Word in Question—check it out!

all images and words in this post copyrighted Geoff Pope 2010

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7 Responses to “Creative Living {in process} Interview with Geoff Pope”


  1. 1 Luanne Brown December 2, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I’ve had the pleasure of working with Geoff in a professional capacity. It’s nice to learn a bit more about him and to read some more of his poetry, which I always enjoy. Interesting–balanced–and fun–that’s Geoff–and now I know why! Great interview.

  2. 2 Debbie December 3, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Loved the interview! Great questions and answers! Thank you for inspiring us all to live creative.

  3. 3 Boo Spiller December 4, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Geoff,
    This just re-reminded me that you rock! Did I tell you “God of Grammar” is now a fixture on my Middle School English syllabi.
    Boo

  4. 4 Mary Ann Koffenberger December 5, 2010 at 4:47 am

    I thought for sure I would read how you went swimming in my pool in the middle of the night, thinking we were still out of town and scared us to death!!!
    Or shared stories in your room with Kristy Barnett!!!
    Great words, Mary Ann Koffenberger

  5. 5 Jan Dwyer Bang December 5, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Wow – this was such a fascinating interview! Geoff, you continue to amaze us with your talent and creativity! John, (My husband) and I love your poetry as well. You do rock!!!
    Jan Dwyer Bang (and John Bang)

  6. 6 Isabel C December 6, 2010 at 10:19 am

    WOW! What a talented poet! Cape and Crown is wonderful :). Great interview!

  7. 7 dragonfli7@msn.com January 3, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    What an interesting growing up! Geoff is supercalifragilisticexpalidocious! There is no end to the wild creativity if you believe in the Living God! Thanks for being you, Geoff and for inspiring us all. Laura


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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

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