Elemental Conversations is a new weekly blog post where we ask our contributors various questions about their art and about themselves. We thought it would be fun for our readers (and us) to get to know the people whose work makes 3Elements Review possible.
Contributor: Tim Skeen, Pacemaker Ache (poem)
Tim Skeen, the 2001 winner of the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry for his book Kentucky Swami, coordinates the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Fresno State. A graduate of the PhD program in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, his poems appear in many magazines and journals. He lives in Fresno with his wife, Pam, and daughter, Iris.
3ER: Why do you think writing matters?
Tim: Why do I think writing matters? Years ago, my daughter asked me why I keep a journal and write poetry. I told her the story of the young Dr. Kevorkian, who worked as an intern at a morgue. He was fascinated by the human eye, and since his clients were in no position to complain, he studied the eyes of the dead—what the eye looks like shortly after death, an hour, two hours and so on. Even his colleagues thought his curiosity was out of the ordinary, and one of them asked him, Why do you do it? He said he didn’t know, other than these studies were fascinating and pleased him. Years later, the data he collected was used in the transplantation of corneas. No one knew at the time! Writing matters to me because it pleases me. People get pleasure from a lot of things. Does it concern me that more people attended football games last weekend than have attended poetry readings in probably the last fifty years, or more? No one forces me to go to football games. Perhaps I’m missing out on something important, but if Sartre, or Derek in Back to School, was right, that football is a perfectly American pastime because it’s a game of violent land acquisition, then I don’t know. What I don’t see enough of in everyday life is graciousness, awareness, discovery. In poetry, however, I sometimes find these things, and on the rare occasions when readers tell me they have found something which pleases them in my poetry, well, I am delighted even more.