My friends, this week we are turning the spotlight on Geoff Meisner, who writes at the blog Life Is. Geoff is fairly new to the blogosphere and we are happy to have the chance to get to know him a little better. Geoff lives in the Minneapolis area with his young family. Pull up a chair, grab a coffee and let's dive in!
Sherry: Geoff, it is a pleasure to be interviewing you. I poked around your site, but you are a man of mystery. Tell us a bit about yourself , where you live, with whom you share your life.
Geoff: Well Sherry I haven’t been intentionally mysterious. I just haven’t finished writing up a profile for the Blog or my Facebook page yet. I live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro. Thus the MSP in my blog profile.
I am happily married and my wife enjoys gardening. She also watches our two kids.
I work in payroll. I set up small businesses with payroll services and help them process.
My family at Como Park, Sparky statue
Sherry: You have such a beautiful young family. Enjoy these years, for they are precious. Where did you grow up, Geoff? Is there someone you feel had a significant influence on your becoming a poet?
Geoff: I grew up in a small town known as Bloomer, WI. A couple of hours east of where I live now.
My children actually are my primary influence on my becoming a poet. I needed a way to express some things I was watching them do, and it came out as a poem. I started trying to express other things as poetry, and before I knew it I was doing it all the time. I am just really glad that my 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Welter, had told me that poetry isn’t about other peoples' ideas, it's about your own.
Sherry: Mr. Welter was so right. Tell us a bit about your poetic journey, Geoff.
Geoff: I’ve written the occasional poem for years, but never to the extent I’ve done in the past year or so and, with one exception, I didn’t keep them. They are lost to time and recycling. The Eponymous poem I used for my blog I wrote over a decade ago, it's the one exception.
It isn't good.
It isn't bad.
It just is.
Now what you do with it
That's your choice.
Sherry: Great advice, Geoff. This is the absolute truth.
Geoff: In the past year I’ve been pouring out the poetry so much, I filled up and broke the first moleskins I was using. That took roughly 13 months. I’m on my second and hope to have it filled in the same or less time.
Geoff: I’ve tried prose quite often. I love stories and wrote short stories when I was younger. I used to create worlds and fail to fill them. I’m still working on one now, but I’m going to take my time and write poetry.
Sherry: Do you like trying form poetry, or are you pretty happy with free verse?
Geoff: I like both, depending on what I’m writing. When I’m thinking about a poem for a while I tend to do a form. When something just hits me, it's always free verse and very stream of consciousness.
Sherry: Who is your favorite well known poet, and what do you love about their work? Do you feel his or her writing style has influenced your own?
Geoff: I really like Frost and I’m always looking for more Billy Collins. I’m not sure if they’ve influenced me, as such, but I know they have made me better. Whereas I think T.S. Eliot has probably been more influential as I absolutely dislike “Wasteland,” and only think his other poems are OK (I haven’t read “Old Possum” yet). So I try to not write like him, rather than write like someone I enjoy, which is a lesson I learned from failing at prose for so many years.
Sherry: I'm thinking we don't so much "fail" at writing, as that we are practicing, and slowly getting better. When did you begin blogging?
Geoff: I started blogging on 5/15 this year. So I’m fairly new to the community.
Sherry: Welcome aboard, kiddo! Some say the internet has created better exposure for poets and some say it has flooded the world with too much poetry. In your opinion, has the internet hurt or helped poetry?
Geoff: I think it has helped poetry. I could cite a dozen poems and several poets I’m not a fan of, but that doesn’t mean they are not good writers. With poetry falling in disfavor among the general public, and Poetry Jams becoming the most common type of poetry reading, the internet gives a place for poets to voice themselves and not worry about performing at the same time. I think it's a great thing and hope more people give it a try.
Sherry: Well said, Geoff. It gives a platform to those of us whose work would otherwise remain unknown. I notice you post twice weekly. Is that an attempt to keep a balance in your writing/work/personal life? (Online can take up a lot of time!)
Geoff: Yes, I post twice a week to maintain that balance. Though I write about a poem a day on average, many I don’t think are worth sharing and the rest need editing.
Sherry: I really love your poem Beautiful the moon, and would like to include it here....do you have another poem or two you especially like, or that you feel expresses who you are, that you might like to include?
Beautiful the moon
Banishing the gloom
Growing larger as the month passes
Waxing it it gives the night
Strength and holding the light
Letting the earth be visible to us
Man sings your praises
Lamenting your waning phases
Looking for phrases that express
Love and loss you see
As high in the sky you be
Forgotten at times like the Evening Star
Howling the wolf calls at night
Claiming territory in your light
Never the direct object of direct affection
Silent witness to the world
as the stories are unfolded
Geoff: Yes I’d like to first share one of my early poems that I wrote, a simple tanka, inspired by my children.
Children playing now
Sandbox creating their world
Moving toys building
Beyond the limits of walls
Their smiles, imaginations
And I’d like to share an ode to my other pastime.
Sitting in a bin
Kept there in
Pungent and bitter
stacked like a ladder
Cold and stored
Hung up on a cord
Empty and clear
In a bucket that once held beer
Soon I hope to use you again.
Sherry: I love the tender poem about your children, and am smiling at your other pastime! What other activities might we find you engaged in, when you’re not writing?
Geoff: Aside from house maintenance? I make beer and read voraciously. About 2-3 genre novels a week and always something more literary and some poetry books scattered in. Just this weekend I finished November by Sean O’Brian, and am still working through Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf and two other books. I probably have three or four books going at any one time.Sherry: The joy of the written word. I am hooked, too. Is there anything else you’d like to share that I don’t know you well enough to ask?
Geoff: Only thing I can think of is that I write in notebooks. I can’t type as I write. I stop and edit constantly and never complete what I started on. Thus I keep a few blank notebooks around so when I fill one I have another already waiting.
Sherry: I used to write longhand. But now a keyboard is the only thing fast enough to keep up with my swiftly disappearing brain cells. Smiles. Anything you’d like to say to Poets United?
Geoff: I’d like to thank the community. I would never have had the courage to share my poems if I hadn’t found all of you putting yourselves out there.
Sherry: We're happy to have you with us, Geoff. You may find that belonging to an online community will encourage you to write more than you would have on your own. That has certainly been true for me. Thank you so much for this refreshing visit. I always love to hear about happy families!
Another week, another poet starting along the path. Isn't it lovely to find young happy families, kids? Sigh. It does my heart good. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!