Local Poet visits Writing Under Fire


It is with with great pleasure that I have my first poet on Author Interview Friday. Dr. Nick Kalvin has an interesting story and his unconventional poetry is thought provoking and sure to elicit an opinion – although every one’s may not be the same. He is a deep soul. Nick, please tell us a little about yourself.

Dr. Nick Kalvin

Nick : I was a Depression baby, June 1933. Mom was Mary Kasarda, US born daughter of coal miner-tenant farmer Slavic-Rus immigrant. She left school in 7th grade to help her family. She met Dad, Nicholas Kalvin, in Lakewood Ohio St. Gregory choir. Both loved books, music, were multilingual. Dad was born here also, but raised from infancy in Eastern Czechoslovakia, educated with degrees in teaching and music, came back to the US in his twenties, where he met Mom. Maternal Grandmother Ann wrote and Dad did the songs for musical plays performed on the church basement stage.

Raised in Lakewood Ohio, went to Medical school at Ohio State in Columbus, 1955-59. Active duty at the Naval School of Aviation Medicine in Pensacola Florida, was a Flight Surgeon,’60-’63, served aboard two aircraft carriers. I served last, with VFP-62, Navy Recon Photo Squadron which won the Presidential Unit Citation for work done in the Cuban Missile Crisis. I did eye surgery residency at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, was also a pilot examiner for the FAA, non-commercial pilots for 20-30 years. I have 5 kids sons, 1 daughter and have 9 grandkids plus.one on the way. My wife, Judy C.(Greene) Kalvin of Lockhaven PA., is an ophthalmic technician. I was Collier County’s first eye surgeon, practised 34 years, 1966-2000, also a past president of NCH Staff, CC Medical Society and Florida Society of Ophthalmology.

My hobbies inlclude writing, tropical fruit trees, tennis. I used to sail, scuba dive, snow ski, travel when in practice.

Joanne: When did you begin to write?

Nick: Before I could, according to Mom, She said at 3-5, I’d use a book-rack footstool as a desk, scribble and sketch with a pencil. When she’d call, she said I usually refused to come, saying “I busy!” Actually, I did some poems in high school, a few Edgar Allen Poe like short stories. Was an editor for my high school paper, wrote and presented medical papers on my research.

Joanne: What got you started writing again?

Nick: I found it a release during the terrible years 2002 to 2005, when we had some serious issues with our children. Residential rehab, bills, legal, that broke our financial back. We lost our Naples home in 2009. . . Lots of suffering, regrets, betrayal. Judy and I went to parental support groups, learned a lot about each other, got closer despite taxing times. Suffering served as motivation. Suffering makes fictional characters find wisdom, endure and develop, just as in real life.

Joanne: That is more trauma than any family should have to go through .As writers, we have the ability to create illusions or to tell stories. What makes you want to create?

Nick: To express awe and thanks for life, to be useful, express feelings and to think. I praise and recall good human beings and to bring attention to those that are not . . .the controllers, dividers, the liars those churning envy into jealousy, then into class/racial hatred to elevate themselves into positions of controlling elite. There they make decisions based on their own desires for vengeance and imagined wrongs. Dad’s observations of pre-war Europe ring true today. Back in the 40’s and 50’s, he predicted, quite accurately, the current American political and financial quagmire brought about by Socialists and Collectivists, racial and religous fanatics. Dad was not alone. For example:

PHILOSPHER HEGEL: “History teaches that people and government never learn anything from history.”

ONE OF OUR FOUNDERS said, “Government is like fire, a necessary servant to be controlled, uncontrolled, becomes a cruel and fatal master” I think it was Jefferson.

Joanne: I know your preferred genre is poetry. Tell us a little about that.

NIck: Poetry is a distillation, concentration in rhyming brevity. Almost all mine are based on facts, history, current events, political trends, my physician experiences. Most are wake-up calls. With a few lines or a page, observations, events can be compressed in the same memorable fashion used since the Stone age. One poem, VITIMOLOGY,IRONIC IMMORTALITY, in a page and a quarter is the gist of almost 2 pages of newsprint.

My works vary . . .inspirational, expository, fiction, entertainment, history, news, opinion, personal or family history. I prefer rhyme and rhythm, going against obvious academic and editorial faddish prejudice against such as this time. I’ve been criticized, locally for Limerick form used with serious topics. Some of the critics in my old group seemed to enjoy serious topics in rap “music.”

I have several unfinished short stories based on my own experiences and two started novels, one based on my only malpractice experience . . .later dismissed. It was from a man who quite likely murdered his wife and got away with it, right here in Collier County, back in the 80’s. I talked with you about it once.

Joanne: I am really unfamiliar with the process of writing poetry. Does it stay in a particular point of view as in fiction writing?

Nick: No, point of view depends on the character and the story told. Some are first person, as in mine. Most fictional ones are from a narrative or observer viewpoint. I make use of dialogue, quotes, even quotes within quotes. Stimulating topics, bit of poems, pop out from newspaper articles, TV news, memories, rarely dreams. I enjoy browsing through my medical library. Occasionally I re-read my old med school, Navy or surgical training textbooks to be sure the facts, concepts are correct in poems or stories.

Joanne: Do you have a particular time of day or place that your inspiration comes to you best?

Nick: I use some of most mornings after chores on a 2 acre rural county home. I care for our own lawn and trees with hand tools and a push gasoline lawn mower. Ideas come, as I work or drive. Once in a while, I will read and write in bed if I can’t sleep. Rarely, I’ll wake up from a dream to jot down an idea or scene.

As for places and techniques, I start writing on the patio, mostly mornings, with dog at my side, untamed woods beyond the fence, a small cigar and black coffee. I begin with longhand in a notebook or tablet….revising until the work gels, several times, shifting stanzas. I try for a dramatic ending. Later, I type it into my Documents, usually edit several times. Years later I redo some published, that I once thought perfect. I date revisions, to avoid confusion with older versions. It appears wise to set work aside, let it sit or cool, go back later for a fresh look.

Joanne: How do you handle rejections to your submissions?

Nick: It is frustrating to have a good piece turned down. One medical journal has a poetry section. Most of the poems published are just unconnected phrases, free association, without rhythm and rhyme . . . some are hard to understand the message and sound awkward when read aloud, just awful. Today there’s a faddish prejudice against rhyme. (I sent in some poems on misogyny, for a special edition on torture, genocide, victims of fanaticism and war that fit right into the issue’s theme. I read some of those to our local writer’s group, Marco Island Writers. One was THE WITNESS, about a girl who sees her drug crazed father beat and kill her Mom, and testifying in court. The last line reads, “Please Judge, can you send my father to the electric chair?” I saw the reaction at MIW, and heard a few gasps. Of course, it and the others were not published in that issue of my medical journal, despite appreciation from “submissions” people, who unfortunately, did not edit the poetry section.)

I had a former English professor and poet read about 50 of my poems several years ago. He was not impressed. He said, “You haven’t found your voice, was too choppy, compressed, and struggled with word order to achieve rhyme, was old fashioned. I followed his suggestions. I had three poems published in Florida Weekly during two contests shortly afterward. One poem was the runner-up in Fall 2012 Florida Weekly’s contest of prose or poetry, done from a FW picture prompt.

Joanne: Are there particular books that you have read lately that inspired you?

Nick: FAR EAST OF THE SUN by Janina Chung hit nerves in me. Her family and mine were from the same area. My Dad saw much of what she wrote . . .political control, persecution, prison-labor camps, violence by Communists, Quislings, Nazi Socialists and cruel bureaucrats.

THE TRUTH ABOUT MUHAMMAD (Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion) by Robert Spencer. It’s a terrifying, truthful account. Muslim extremists will, no doubt, case WWIII.

LUCY, a story about a girl who was half ape, her tribulations, the hate, threats she inspired, the implications for social norms and beliefs.

Joanne: Tell our readers a little about your poems and your style of writing.

Nick: I’m like the little boy who, unlike the “politically correct” crowd, tells the Emperor he is, in fact, naked. Like that child, many of my poems focus on things that are unjust, stupid, cruel, selfish, dangerous to life and freedom. Some are family history, memorable experiences and teachings.

Joanne: We know that the writing process can be a lonely and sometimes discouraging process if you are looking from motivation from outside sources. What are your motivations?

Nick: My motivations are to create something, to discover or to expose the truths. Several artists in various fields have said that the art of creation is really an innate need to worship by imitating the Creator. One example is “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I’m driven to write about the things that I see or find out about that disturb me. A visiting poet at FGCU (Florida Gulf Coast University) who came to give a reading, said if his poems disturb the reader or stir up critical thought, he has done his jobWe all seek attention, appreciation, want to show off our works . . .from the first sketches or attempts to write until we die. I guess I want to leave some of me behind when I’m gone. Our gift of imagination has to be used, encouraged or it withers.

Joanne: What kind of training or formal education have you received in writing?

Nick: I have attended several writing/author seminars put on by the Naples Press Club I belonged to Crossed Quills…a critique group, now defunct, met weekly for two years or so.

I do get help and background from the following books:

The Art of Readable Writing by Rudolph Flesch, which contains a graphic scheme to measure such depending on “personal words,” syllables per 100 words, words per sentence.

Complete Rhyming Dictionary by Clement Wood

Elements of Style by Strunk and White

History’s Timeline by Cooke, Kramer et al

Lure of the Limerick by Wm. Baring-Gould

The Student Bible with notations and references by Yancy and Stafford

Beyond Star Trek by LM Krauss

Joanne: How has your publishing experience been?

Nick: I’d love to publish an entire book or two of my own poetry, but find that to be difficult. Poetry books are not profitable for publisher or author. I might submit an E-book of poems to Amazon. Publications containing my poems include:

FLORIDA WEEKLY, 3 poems in 2 contests last two years. got second place overall in 3012.

INTERNATIONAL WHO’S WHO IN POETRY, 2012, Judy Lynn Editor, Los Angeles

BEST POEMS AND POETS OF 2012 ,World Poetry Movement, Suzanne Hillary, Utah

GREAT POETS ACROSS AMERICA, National poetry month, 2012, Brooke Alexander Ed.

STARS IN OUR HEARTS,. World Poetry Movement 2011 Suzanne Hillary Editor, Utah

Joanne: Nick, please share with us a couple of your poems and tell the readers where they can go to read or purchase more.

Nick: You can go to my website or any of the books above to read some of my work. http://www.PoetryPoliticallyIncorrect.com.

all 4 books

VICTIMOLOGY, CORRUPTION

(this is one of a series of poems)

“You look like you were always tough, well-built and tall,

Heck, I bet, in school, no one ever bothered you at all,

Shoved you into lockers down at the far end of the hall,

Or tripped you, when teachers were too far away to call.

You can’t know how much I’ve been pushed around and abused.

Outside school, I was teased, became a punching bag they used.

They chased me, hid my violin, threw mud and pulled my hair,

Then, they’d all laugh, when I said, ‘Guys, you’re neither nice nor fair.’

The Principal asked me if I had any proof which I could produce?

Unlucky me, they didn’t hit hard enough to leave much bruise.

Mom went to school, complained again, in the office just last week.

Grandpa said, ‘Stand your ground…you can’t always turn the other cheek.’

In class they frowned when I’d raise my and to provide an answer,

In gym, their teams quit choosing me, like I had some disease or cancer.

They stole my lunch money, even though I noticed they got theirs for free.

They sure loved making life one long misery, for the kids like me.

Well, Sheriff, guess I should say I’m so sorry, but I’m really not.

Truthfully, it felt good, to see them kneel, cry like babies, while I shot.”

OUR LADY CARDINAL’S OBSESSION

For several days now, pecking at our panes,

A scruffy, lady Cardinal just can’t abstain,

Nor her compulsive, odd behavior somehow explain.

Is she darkly obsessed, or simply featherbrained?

Perhaps, like us, poor creature can’t, or will not restrain,

Choosing acts that logic surely deems insane,

Over duties, likely, even life itself sustain,

And wastes divine gifts on weird urges unrestrained.

Does this bird perceive a rival in her domain?

Love, kiss her glassy image? Is a bird that vain?

All day long, this poor one ignores water and grain,

Like us, her compulsions not all ever ascertained.

Why choose destructive pathways in life’s vast terrain,

Ignore the safe, productive ones, with obvious disdain,

Blindly passing so much good our lives do contain,

Hung-up, side-tracked, (ordained?) to provide her own pain?

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