Poetry Santa Cruz
Poetry Santa Cruz

David Alpaugh

An Interview by Dennis Morton with poet and publisher David Alpaugh

Dennis Morton:  Why do you write poetry?

David Alpaugh:  I don't know.  Poetry is a process that happens to me.  I can be walking the dog, working at my computer, eating lunch, lying in bed when a phrase, a line (sometimes two or three) comes into my mind.  I've no way of knowing when this will happen.  For me, the first draft is like a spell.

Re-writing is a different matter; that's where the whys come in.  I re-write to make the poem less embarrassing, more and more satisfying for my imagined writer and reader.  This can take days, weeks, months, even years.

DM:  Is there anything you're afraid to write about?

DA:  There are many things I haven't written about--yet, but I don't think it's out of fear.

One of the disadvantages of being at the mercy of one's "muse" is that you don't get to choose what you write about.  My hope is that sooner or later all of the matters most important to me will well up into poems.

DM:  What's the best advice you've received from a mentor poet?

DA:  Mary Oliver:  "Make sure there is nothing in the poem that would keep the reader from becoming the speaker."

DM:  What's the best advice you've given a beginning poet?

DA:  Fall in love with poetry--but don't marry it.

DM:  How do you deal with writer's block?

DA:  It's never been an issue for me.  I don't mind if weeks or months separate the writing of one poem from another.  "Writers block" may be nature's way of screening out poems we can do without.

DM:  What do you expect from a poem?

DA:  Originality, metaphor and music.  I want to feel that only this poet could have written this poem.  I want to feel the electricity that comes from saying two things at the same time.  And I want the poet to flood my mind with the power and beauty of song.

David Alpaugh read with Amy England at 7:30 pm on April 16, 2002 at Bookshop Santa Cruz.

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