Dear Site Visitors,
It has been a full year since my last poet interview. I am pleased to finally present you with this long awaited interview and I apologize for such a long wait. The September, 2002 featured poet is Paul Papasavas, who is from central New Jersey, where he lives with his family. Paul's primary career is technical consultant and, aside from his successful profession, he is also a helicopter instructor and volunteer EMT. He also composes music and writes poetry. He is a man of many interests.
Paul first submitted poetry to poetheart.com in September, 2001, after finding the website through a search engine. His first poem ("My Thoughts") was posted in late December, 2001 and within only one week Paul had four more poems accepted for posting on my site and I began to receive e-mail about his work. His poetry attracted such positive attention right from the start of his affiliation with my website and within a short time more of his work was accepted.
Since Paul lives in the same area of New Jersey as I do (within the same county, just a few towns away), we escalated our e-mail conversations to telephone conversations. A few months later Paul and I met over dinner and began discussing the possibility of my interviewing him, making him the first featured poet I have met in person. We talked about his poetry and music and I found him to be as friendly and likeable in person as he had been in e-mail and on the phone. Paul is very intelligent, culturally literate, entertaining and personable...and he likes to talk.
Paul Papasavas selected two of his poems to be featured (not wanting to choose between them): "Letting Go" and "A talk with my heart." His choice for a favorite poem by a renowned poet is "Silentium Amoris" by Oscar Wilde.
During my interview with Paul, he talks about himself, his interests, his thoughts, ideas, and feelings - all in the context of his poetry. Interviewing Paul was actually a very easy task because he is very candid - he doesn't hesitate and he doesn't hold back. I think you will really like this interview. You will get a good view of the man who was dubbed "a thinking man's poet." He was my best choice to be featured for a number of reasons, the foremost being his work has been well accepted. During the entire month of September, Paul Papasavas will answer your specific questions in the Q&A. Your questions and Paul's answers to them will be posted. When submitting questions, please write "Paul" in the subject header and include your name and where you are from.
I am very pleased to present my site's featured poet for September, 2002 - Paul Papasavas. The interview with Paul which follows is the result of phone conversations, e-mail communication and personal conversation between March, 2002 and September, 2002.
Thank you, Poetheart
"How many times do we see people focus on the most material things...losing the essence of life and the reason we're here? I feel that so many people (myself included) need to take a step back and really look at what they have. It's not about "fortunes" - it's about being "fortunate" - That's where the gold is!" - Paul Papasavas (from his Interview, September, 2002)September, 2002 Interview Sections you may visit:
Poetheart: Paul, tell us a little about yourself. Who is this Paul Papasavas?
Paul: I am an adventurer. I love exploring, but not only in a physical sense. As you have probably gathered from my writing, I enjoy exploring ordinary things and finding extraordinary meaning. I love understanding how things work.
Poetheart: How long have you been writing poetry? When did you write your first poem? How old were you?
Paul: I started writing when I was 12 or 13. I used to sit in front of the computer (or possibly typewriter) and just let things come out. Unfortunately I didn't save them.
Poetheart: And how old are you now, Paul - if you don't mind my asking?
Paul: I'm 30.
Poetheart: Do you remember the first poem you wrote?
Paul: Yes. The first poem I wrote was called "Memories of a Childhood."
Poetheart: Tell us about this first Paul Papasavas poem.
Paul: I wrote that poem for a poetry competition. The funny thing was my Mother was on my case to write something for the competition because the deadline was the next morning. So I sat down...and in five minutes wrote "Memories of a Childhood."
Poetheart: What was "Memories of a Childhood" about?
Paul: It was about a boy about my age walking down the hallways at school, looking at tall objects (lockers?). There was a lot of symbolism in the poem and I expressed the thoughts the boy was having and his childhood memories... The poem won First Place! I was shocked.
Poetheart: Paul, what might inspire you to write a poem?
Paul: Sometimes I don't consciously decide what I'm writing about. Feelings make their own way onto the paper (or the keyboard). Some of the more emotional poems ("Letting Go" and "A talk with my heart") were the result of the things that were happening or had happened in my life. I guess when there's no drama, I pick more mundane subjects to write about. "Letting Go" came after a long relationship ended. It was exactly how I was feeling at the time and I needed to remind myself of my own words. But a few people got hold of that poem and told me that it came just at the right time - in their lives - and it made a dramatic difference in the way they handled a situation. That really made me happy!
Poetheart: What is your definition of poetry?
Paul: It really depends what day you ask me this. <GRIN> Poetry means a lot of things to a lot of different people. In fact, just from my writing alone, the poetry seems to cross many boundaries and ideas. For me, it has been used as a philosophical tool, a healing mechanism, and a means of clarification. Poetry also helps form ideas from words in the reader's mind.
Poetheart: Maybe you just answered this question, Paul, but I will ask anyway...What does poetry mean to you? How important is poetry to you?
Paul: Again, poetry is a very intriguing part of my life. Speaking from the perspective of a writer, it helps me to put ideas down on paper that I don't normally verbalize. It provides introspection and healing.
Poetheart: How seriously do you take your poetry, Paul?
Paul: About as seriously as I take anything else. It has its time and place in my life. Writing comes when it comes. I can't generally force it. I have found the strangest places in the world to write...Sometimes you just have to capture a feeling or a moment. Capture it then - or perhaps lose it forever.
Poetheart: What is the process of Paul Papasavas having an idea for a poem and then writing it and finally letting someone read it?
Paul: Most of my writing occurs within minutes. I don't write an outline. More often than not, I only have a general idea of what I am going to write about. It seems that some inner process works to assemble the parts and put them on paper. I do very little editing to my work. I want the final product to be a reflection of what my inner working has relayed onto paper.
Poetheart: On the average, how long does it usually take you to create a poem from thought to completion?
Paul: If I can't write something within 5 minutes, I usually toss it out. The things I write seem to flow. If it takes longer I am usually just grasping and trying too hard - perhaps forced.
Poetheart: Do you have an "audience" who gets to read or hear your poems before you post them on your website or submit them to my site or other sites?
Paul: Yes. There is this nice gentleman I had the pleasure of meeting at a Thai restaurant a few months back...I think his name was Jay or something like that - he goes by the name "poetheart" also.
Poetheart: Seriously, Paul, other than your submissions to poetheart.com, who gets to preview your work?
Paul: I generally just send them to poetheart.com after I've written them. I get a sense almost immediately if I believe others will be able to "connect" with my thoughts...I am not always right though!
Poetheart: Have you ever published your poetry or considered publishing it?
Paul: I have never published my poetry but I have considered it.
Poetheart: Are you as "successful" as you would like to be with your writing?
Paul: In my eyes, success is deriving comfort, healing, and meaning from my writing; the next level is seeing the writing affect others in that way. I think I've achieved the first level so far!
Poetheart: If anywhere, where would you like to go with your poetry, Paul?
Paul: I'd like to go to Australia with my poetry. I hear the weather is really nice down there! Seriously, I submitted a few pieces to a literary publication a few weeks ago. We'll see where it goes!
Poetheart: You have selected both "Letting Go" and "A talk with my heart" as your featured poems. Why did you choose two poems and why these two?
Paul: I wanted to have both of these poems as my featured poems and not have to choose between them. "Letting Go" and "A talk with my heart" both came at very emotional times in my life, however that is not what made them so special. What made them special was the impact they had on people I know - my friends and my family; their true significance weighed not only by my own reactions to them.
Poetheart: Are these two poems your favorites of your all your poems?
Paul: Yes they are my favorites. They show a very candid side of me - a side that was hurting and looking for some type of healing in this cold world.
Poetheart: Paul, you selected "Silentium Amoris" by Oscar Wilde as your favorite poem by a renowned poet. Why do you like this poem?
Paul: I almost have trouble describing the feeling, emotion, and beauty in "Silentium Amoris" by Oscar Wilde. There are many beautiful poems out there, but this poem really caught my eye. It's simple in one sense - and very deep in another. You can almost feel the emotion with which Wilde wrote it - it's truly magnificent.
Poetheart: Yes, it is a magnificent poem. I like it very much also. It was a great selection. I am sure readers who are familiar with it will agree and those who have never read it will certainly enjoy it. My sincere thanks for selecting that particular poem.
Poetheart: Do you remember your first submission to my website? The first poem you ever sent me was "My Thoughts..." which I posted back in late December, 2001. If I am not mistaken, you sent it to me months prior to my accepting it and posting it on my site. Do you remember?
Paul: Yes, I sent the poem to you in August of 2001. When I never heard back from you, I figured you either didn't receive it or had tossed it in the garbage! Either way, I was surprised when you wrote back to me and I figured you either got desperate and ran out of good work or you were doing some charity work. <GRIN> Seriously, it was nice to hear back from you and be published on your site among a very talented group of poets (yourself included).
Poetheart: What made you submit that particular poem to poetheart.com?
Paul: I did a search on Google one day and visited a few sites. Your site caught my eye...AND you lived about 10 minutes from me, so I decided to submit my poem to your site. Your site was the only site I tried to publish on, if you want to call it publishing. I liked the format of poetheart.com and the user-friendly type atmosphere - and the level of professionalism and attention to detail impressed me.
Poetheart: So you were happy when your submission was accepted?
Poetheart: After I posted "My Thoughts..." I began receiving some feedback from readers about your poem almost immediately. The first visitor response I could find which mentions you is 12/29/01. (I posted your first poem on 12/26/01. An untitled poem was accepted and posted on 12/27/01 followed by two more on 12/28/01. What do you think of this immediate attention to your poetry from those who visit my site?
Paul: I thought that there was another poet on the site with the same name as me! I thoroughly enjoy(ed) reading the feedback from the first submission all the way to the current work.
Poetheart: So you began reading the visitor response comments?
Poetheart: How do you feel about reading those responses?
Paul: I thoroughly enjoy them. It's great feedback. I'm never offended by anyone's comments as they are just that - comments and opinions. My heart writes something not out of greed or selfishness, but out of love, caring, and also understanding. Readers may not always agree with what I write, but I write what I feel inside and to filter that would just not be correct - in my mind, at least. I get a kick out of reading the visitor responses.
Poetheart: You just said (and I quote) "my heart writes something..." What do you mean by that, Paul?
Paul: In the business world, we tend to write things in a very structured and predictable manner...very similar to my responses to your questions. When I start writing poetry, I feel as if I'm using a completely part of my mind - a part with little predictability and a lot of feeling and emotion. A lot of my writing is the result of things that have transpired in my life - both good and bad.
Poetheart: Your poem "Letting Go" posted on 01/14/02 has always been a favorite of many readers. I have always liked it also because I found it to be very candid and insightful. Your words in this poem offer wisdom about coming to terms with a situation. It's almost like another "Serenity Prayer" or something like that. Can we talk about this poem? It seems like a "therapeutic" poem.
Paul: "Letting Go" was written to help me deal with a very difficult situation in my life. It helped me take a somewhat logical approach to deal with an illogical person and situation. It made me realize that holding hate inside is one of the worst things you can do. There would be no way to love someone else as long as I held disdain. But my writing this poem had far reaching elements in that it wound up not only helping me, but also several other people I know.
Poetheart: It sounds like through penning this poem you managed to achieve some sort of closure for your bad experience then?
Paul: Yes. Writing that poem definitely helped me get through a bad situation in my life and move on...
Poetheart: Excellent. Good for you - and good for those who derive something from reading it.
Paul: Thank you.
Poetheart: Paul, many of your poems on my site so not employ rhyme. But you do have a few ("Exploring Purpose" and "Afloat" for example) in which you have successfully used rhyme as a device. Do you have a preference for employing rhyme or not?
Paul: I usually do not write with rhyme but since I also write music and lyrics, some of that style often bleeds over into my poetry and I suspect I had probably just left the studio when those poems were created.
Poetheart: Is it more difficult to use rhyme?
Paul: Yes! At least it is for me! Rhyme seems to constrain me to find the right words to rhyme, hence, using it limits my free flow of thoughts. Some people don't seem to have that problem as evidenced by some of your other talented writers.
Poetheart: "Afloat" is a wonderfully simple poem - not as complex as some of your other work. It is also written in rhyme. How easy or difficult was it to write this poem?
Paul: That poem just kind of "popped out" one evening. I hadn't planned on writing this poem, but I did notice that everything I was writing that evening rhymed. Surprise?? I think I had just completed a song called "Angel on Earth" so I was in a music lyrical kind of mood.
Poetheart: Paul, I have received some feedback on your poem "True Freedom?" and readers seem to like it. There are a few interpretations of what your theme is in this poem. Would you clarify your "intentions" and tell us what are you expressing in this one?
Paul: "True Freedom" asks the question: "How much control do we really have?" Every time I read it again it makes me think about that very question. The light that I refer to is a very personal thing in my life...it allows me to let go and let things come out. The question is: Who and what is really in control? The rest is a bit of a mystery I leave up to the reader to decipher.
Poetheart: You seem to like "rebelling" against convention in your writing. You indicate that in your poem "Rules" which in itself is structured against some rules of form in the arrangement of its lines. Do you know what I mean, Paul? We've talked about this several times in the past and I told you I would "put you on the spot" about this.
Paul: Convention and structure have purpose. There are certain times in life we need to just let go. For me, poetry is one of those times. Now I'll go over to the corner of the room and stare at the wall until you allow me to return back to my seat! <GRIN>
Poetheart: <LAUGHING> Okay, Paul.
Poetheart: How do you feel when someone reads one of your poems and comes up with an interpretation of it far from what you intended?
Paul: Some of my writing is provided more as a framework...and then other writing seems to really focus on a point that would be difficult not to grasp on the first reading.
Poetheart: Your poem "Angelic" is a beautiful and very tender tribute to your mother. What was her reaction to this poem?
Paul: My mother is a very special human being, aside from her being my mother. What I wrote in that poem is truly how I feel about her. I was not there to see her reaction to reading it, but she enjoyed it!
Poetheart: Paul, does your family read your poetry?
Paul: Yes. My parents and brother read my poetry. I have an aunt who actually wrote a book of poetry several years ago. I share my work with her quite often...I tried to read it to my Labrador Retriever one day - but she just stared into space!!
Poetheart: Do your family members encourage you?
Paul: Yes! Always! And it's encouraging to see the effect my writing has on them.
Poetheart: Last April you sent me a poem from Martha's Vineyard called "Divine Difference" (which I subsequently posted on my site). This poem was about appreciation derived from being removed from a situation. Do you always find inspiration to write in the places you you visit or vacation to?
Paul: It seems like themes are related to an emotion or my surroundings. Since I'm a pilot, I travel quite a bit and sometimes I'm in the air more than on the ground! Guess where my poem "Open Sky" came from? My part-time aviation career has afforded me opportunities to visit most of the 50 states. The surroundings, people, and culture elicit powerful feelings and bring clarity to some of my deeper thoughts. The work I've written was mostly but not exclusively, in New Jersey. I've written in Martha's Vineyard, Maine, Boston, Florida, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and the North Pole (just kidding).
Poetheart: Let's talk a little more about "Divine Difference" and about appreciating things when you are away or separated from them.
Paul: I sometimes think of Christopher Reeve. He's paralyzed now. How much he would give to be able to move his body parts again! How many times do we wake up in the morning and actually realize how lucky we are that we are able to get up to see another day...to breathe another breath...and see the people important to us in our lives? How many times do we see people focus on the most material things...losing the essence of life and the reason we're here? I feel that so many people (myself included) need to take a step back and really look at what they have. It's not about "fortunes" - it's about being "fortunate" - That's where the gold is!
Poetheart: In June you sent me a poem from Arizona called "Waiting Till Dawn." It's a very mysterious poem and I am guessing you wrote it about someone you met there. Who is she?
Paul: That shall remain a mystery!
Poetheart: Your poem "Apprentice" is well written and provokes thought. What can you add to enlighten us about this poem a little more, Paul?
Paul: Those who don't feel they are an apprentice of some sort or in some aspect of their life probably cannot relate to this. Life is a process full of opportunities to help others, teach others, and learn from others. It's very humbling and gratifying to talk to someone who has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in a particular area. I think it's wonderful when they're willing to share their experience with others. But the poem goes beyond that - it relates to an internal process of understanding this new found information in the context of the knowledge in its raw form and in the company of our own experience. It makes me wonder how our prejudices affect the knowledge and our ability or inability to suppress to get a theoretical pure meaning.
Poetheart: The theme of "Open Sky" seems easy to figure out. You mentioned before about guessing where this one came from. This poem was written about your being a pilot and flying, right?
Paul: Yes. It's about my flying airplanes and helicopters - two of my passions in life. They each involve very different characteristics. I have a completely different love for each form of transportation. The sky is so vast, so powerful, and has so many "personalities." Sometimes the air is smooth and silky, almost like glassd. Other times, it toys with me and knocks me around at its mercy. Then other times, it closes up like a black hole.
Poetheart: "Dormant Colloquy" is a very recent addition to your page and which is very different from many of your other poems residing on poetheart.com. Is Paul Papasavas' style changing?
Paul: I would say style involves progression - especially in writing. I would also say that while some of my poems may be of a seemingly different flavor, they reflect the mood and subject matter I'm writing about. Perhaps out of the ordinary at times, so things may not always seem to follow a predictable "style."
Poetheart: Some readers have expressed to me that your poetry is very "deep." What do you say about this? Do you think it is?
Paul: Sometimes I write about things I don't consciously think about with any degree of frequency, so I learn about myself through my writing. It's quite a form of therapy for me - "Letting Go" and "A talk with my heart" - and it brings me a happiness when I find someone else also derived meaning from my writing.
Poetheart: How much thought do you put into your poetry?
Paul: I have a single thought and start writing. But the single thought is the evolution of years of thinking - so that's a loaded question!
Poetheart: You are very much a part of my site. Have you read the work of any other poetheart.com poets?
Paul: Yes. I have read every single poet's work on your site.
Poetheart: Have you read any of the six interviews preceding yours?
Paul: Yes. I read through some of them when I first visited your site. Then, earlier this year, when you approached me about being interviewed, I read some more so I had an expectation of what you and the readers were looking for.
Poetheart: Did you mind being interviewed?
Paul: Not at all - I enjoy talking to people and it was quite an honor to be selected to be interviewed among such other talented writers on your site.
Poetheart: Paul, do you have a website or a way that readers could reach you directly?
Paul: My website is at http://www.pauly.us and I can be reached through my site.
Poetheart: Are you ready to take questions from poetheart.com visitors?
Poetheart: Paul, I think this turned out to be a great interview. Thank you sincerely for letting me ask you all these questions.
Paul: Anytime, Jay.
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