Appreciating Those Who Write – Timothy Greek

Interested in the habits of other writers, I usually ask those who write about their methods and practices. I like thinking of the many ways that writers practice their craft, the environments they create in which to write, the types of materials they use, and their routines for getting started. I carry the images with me when I sit down to write, and it helps me to realize again how we find our way through the process in so many different ways.

Timothy Greek is a long-time close friend of ours (he and my husband have been friends since their high school years participating in theatre performances), who has had the same writing practice throughout his lifetime. A poet, now in his sixties, he has always carried around several 3 x 5 cards on which he jots down the lines to poems as he thinks of them. I recall him in his twenties, usually carrying a science fiction novel that had 3 x 5 colored index cards tucked away in between the pages. You can imagine how many cards he must have now.

It may take some time before they emerge in typed form on a regular sized page, and when they do, the result is as distinctive as his method. Here is a poem from our reading in Redlands, California with Luanne Castle over at Writer Site after her first collection, Doll God, came out:

Detached Virtue

The wine of Jesus had legs.
Though in his day,
They would say
It would float on water
Like a healing oil
At that osmotic line
Between heavenly fruit and earthly salt.
Only his feet could crush
The two into one.

You can see that he enjoys word-play. Here’s another:

Honest Ambiguity

So far, comme ci, as above
So good, comme ça, so below

Hear the confluence of listening
Sans the clutter of contiguous ubiquity’s froth

Swells clarity’s pulse,
The wealth of the heart that is open.
The rhythm of above and the beat below.

So far, comme ci, as above
So good, comme ça, so below

Choosing swine and judging pearls
Ah the whetting stone, used to guide the edge,
not thrown or hurled.

Intent, unlike the truth-bearing blade, is whole
Undivided by dichotomy.

So far, comme ci, as above
So good, comme ça, so below.

A regular at Starbucks, Tim is an almost daily customer. Even in our twenties, we met at coffee shops to discuss poetry and literature, and if I could recall the “enfoldments,” Emily Dickinson’s term for epiphanies, that we had during our conversations, I would record them in a book. Actually, I remember many of his comments as I used to jot them down. One of them comes to mind now: “It is short, aggression, but creativity is long and beautiful.” Coffee plays a large role in his regular process, though in the main, it is his original mind that perpetuates such interesting poems. Recently retired, he will be writing more frequently now that he has the rich gift of an abundance of time.

Here we are at a party, toasting to poets throughout time! Feel free to post your habits, practices, customs.

 

 

 

 

25 thoughts on “Appreciating Those Who Write – Timothy Greek

  1. Thanks for sharing that. It made me think of when I was writing fiction. I’d write down “lines” as they came to me to be used later in a suitable spot. The notebook I used is a tiny Mead Five Star that my dad used to use to figure out his lotto numbers. So the first part of the notebook is all spidery dates and fractions, and the second part is scraps of writing. Some are pretty bad, but here’s one I like: “Death is bearable if your nose isn’t rubbed in it.”

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    1. That is a great idea, Jeannie, to jot down even just lines for future works that can later be expanded. I tend to jot down ideas, and it has worked well for the most part. Occasionally, though, I have no memory of what I was thinking about, and if I haven’t written enough detail, the idea vanishes. Thanks for sharing that method!

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      1. I also make notes about ideas and when I go back I find I haven’t written enough to remember what I was thinking. Sometimes when I write poetry it starts out as prose first and then I look at what I’ve written and think, hmmm, I think this would be better as a poem.

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  2. I love that movement from theatre to poetry. Why are they even different things? Once upon a time they weren’t! Love the poems you showcased here, the long friendship you have had as people and as writers, and the toast you made! Thanks for linking to Doll God, Carla–that was so sweet. I’m so glad to have met Tim.

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    1. My pleasure, Luanne! Yes, there is a strong connection between theatre and poetry! Tim’s poems are quite remarkable. He used to read them to some of my classes when we would study poetry (Intro to Lit courses), and the students always liked asking him questions. You will meet Tim again, I’m sure, and one day we should all read together again.

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  3. I love the idea of jotting down thoughts on index cards! That has to be better than dragging around notebooks 🙂 Perhaps if I took my writing more seriously … I jot notes to myself all the time at my day job, usually on stickies because, in my workplace anyway, they are ubiquitous. Index cards would last longer, though …

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    1. I have tried stickies, too, but they get out of control, and I can’t easily stack them once I want to clump them together. Lately, I write all notes into one journal, which also contains any dreams, sketches, and whatever. It would be interesting to glance at the notes that writers keep about their writing!

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        1. Me too, Jill! As a child, the paper and pencil aisle in the grocery store drew me every time, and I still want everything in those aisles when I go to Target. Office supplies! Yes! I know what you mean. I have started many journals (films I have seen with reviews, books I have read with summaries, scriptures, feelings, whatever) and never filled them completely. One day I realized that it was all too much and started using just one journal for everything, and I prefer the moleskin medium sized ones with the elastic strap. The one thing that worries me and that will require some decisions is what will become of them if something happens to me? Not just anyone should read them.

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          1. Oh, dear, you make a good point about what will happen to your journals if something happens to you. How many deceased writers have had their letters and journals mined when it was the last thing they would have wanted?

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            1. Either the Writer’s Chronicle or Poets and Writers published an article last year sometime written by four writers who deal with the issue of journal privacy and steps to take. I think I censor mine more than I would like, always aware of the potential for future readers.

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    1. Texting yourself is a great idea too, Kourtney. I never thought of it! Glad you liked Tim’s poetry. He has hundreds of poems and continues to be prolific with his writing and reading.

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  4. I’d have 100,000 index cards! Instead, I write in a large lined notebooks, and have dozens and dozens of them. I keep saying I’ll go in there and write up those stories one of these days. Probably a book or two in them. 🙂

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  5. I love the idea of jotting on note cards and have tried to do the same but I end up losing/misplacing the cards or using them as bookmarks, etc. Still, I think the mere idea of writing down thoughts is helpful and kicks the creativity into gear.
    P.S. I love the Virtue poem, especially the first line: “The wine of Jesus had legs.” Oh, what an odd and perfect opening. I’ll have to look up Timothy Green and read more of his work.

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    1. Hi Cinthia – Yes, I think that is why I don’t use that method, and as it is, I have so many tablets that have notes jotted down on them that when I re-read the notes, I have lost so much of the inspiration or details that I had been pondering.

      Timothy Greek is an, as yet, unpublished poet, though he has written hundreds of poems over the years! The line you mention is right in keeping with his style! I will send you more interesting tidbits from his work soon! Thanks for reading the post!

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