Remembering a Friend Plus a Guest Poet Interview
Before I share his post, I wanted to take a moment to remember a good friend of mine and member of my writing critique group, John Migacz.
John passed away last week, and the members of my writing chapter are reeling under the loss. John and his wife, Marcia, have been a part of our chapter for over fifteen years, and when I first joined, John was the chapter leader. I eventually filled that role, and John always made a point of thanking me for doing it. He did his time "herding the cats" as he would say, and he enjoyed someone else handling it for awhile. His wife, Marcia, has been influential in our chapter as a fantastic copy editor and, since the pandemic, my IT support person for any chapter member struggling with access to our Zoom meetings. I couldn't successfully run the meetings without her assistance.
One of the things writers fear is leaving a story unfinished or not told. Marcia tells me John has hundreds of completed stories. He, also, chose to self-publish, so many of his works made it into print. They can be found on his website.
As writers, I'm compelled to remind any of you who want to write some day, that some day is now. Do not wait. Do not think "I'll do it when..." If you have a message, put it out in the world. Don't wait.
Now, for my guest this week, Arthur Turfa:
As a second-generation American, the Old Countries are never far from him, even though he is patriotic in the original sense of the word. Certain places are important to him because they have formed him even without his realizing it at the time. Later on he discovered connections between them that he never could have foreseen. People in each of those places have also influenced him. Much of his poetry attempts to honor these people and to show the places to the reader.
EM: You've obviously experienced a lot in your life, but the pandemic is a totally different experience for all of us. How has your life been affected by the pandemic?
AT: In our garage sits a 10’ x 10’ tent in its box. I had a full schedule of events in familiar and new places. Then the pandemic hit. For several months I only went to the supermarket and the drug store.
I found more time to write and completed a 12-page collection for a publisher. One of those poems was about not being able to receive the Eucharist. I am a Lutheran pastor licensed by the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. My schedule listed many Sundays where I would conduct services in either a Lutheran or Episcopalian congregation. The Eucharist is an important part of my piety, and it was not available. The poem I wrote about that is "Villanelle", and I am seeking a publisher for it.
EM: How do you approach research?
AT: I am a poet branching into literary fiction. The concept of place has great importance for anything I write. What happened in a place before I encounter it matters to me, as well as who was there, and whether it is significant or not.
For poetry, the writing comes first. As I revise, I do the necessary research. Among other things, I am a historian, and I retain a good bit of information. If I am writing a poem about an important moment in my life, I do not change what happened. My reflection needs to be based on what actually occurred.
For literary fiction I do a little more research. If I am unsure, I check. I don’t think I have it right, or that someone else does. I do not bend the facts to fit what I want to happen in poetry or fiction. Finally, I do not stop the creative moment to spend a lot of time looking up something. I can always come back to it.