Peter J. Gloviczki is a talented poet — and an assistant professor of communications at Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina. Peter earned his doctorate at the University of Minnesota, where I was fortunate to study writing and “new media” alongside him. Peter’s research specialty is social media and how these networks are shaping and reflecting public reactions to traumatic events. Online memorials and shared grieving can alter news coverage and historical perspectives.
Yet, it is his work as poet that most interests me. Maybe it is because we both study online culture that I appreciate the direct and personal nature of poetry. What we post online seems ephemeral, especially when compared to a book sitting on a shelf, waiting to be read again and again.
Peter’s success as a poet is impressive, yet he remains a humble and generous colleague and teacher. He easily could lead seminars in poetry, world literature, journalism, and communications research methods. I believe it is breadth of his interests that makes him such a gifted and perceptive poet.
Your poetry has appeared in many publications, and you have a new book. What would you like readers to know about the book and your other works?
I have written poetry for many years, and I’m very pleased to share this new book, Kicking Gravity (Salmon Poetry, 2013), with the world. The book was written over the past seven (or so) years and it brings together some of my best work across that period. I am honored that my poems have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, New Orleans Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and elsewhere. In Kicking Gravity, I write in many different voices and tell the stories that interest me the most; those about life, love, travel and the processes of disconnection and reconnection. I am fortunate to have worked with several talented teachers and mentors over the past several years, including Ray Gonzalez, Maria Damon, Eliot Khalil Wilson, Kim Addonizio, April Ossmann, Hilda Raz and William Reichard. I believe the poems in Kicking Gravity, and my work as a whole, has been considerably strengthened as a result of these experiences.
In school, we encourage children to write poetry. We often assign basic poetic forms in high school, as well. Unfortunately, too many students start to view poetry as strange and difficult to write. What do you believe led to your passion for poetic forms? How was that passion maintained?
I was always encouraged to write and to express myself and I feel very lucky to have had this early support—from my family, friends and teachers. If a student feels called to write, I encourage them to follow that calling and to seek out the writing of others. There are so many great writers at all levels—writing for young children, for elementary, middle and high school students and for adults. To someone who is new to writing, I would offer the following as recommendations: Mary Ann Hoberman, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sandra Beasley, Sandra Cisneros, Adrienne Rich, Gary Soto, Gary Snyder and Mark Levine.
You seem to have an appreciation for short-forms, such as haiku. What about these forms appeals to you?
I am attracted to the challenge of writing with clarity. My favorite poems are those that mean what they say, and do so in a way that is compelling and fresh. I admire those writers who can work within the constraints of the form and yet produce something that sticks in the reader’s mind.
Your Ph.D. is not in literature or poetry. Instead, your specialty is social media and their role in major events. What relationship do you see between social media and poetry?
While there is no formal relationship between the two, I can say that I truly enjoy them both. I love teaching, researching and serving my community, and I enjoy writing and reading poetry. In this way, I am sure that I have been inspired by my parents. My mother was a stage actress and is now a ceramic artist. My father was a slight-of-hand magician and is now a vascular surgeon. I was always encouraged to pursue those things that interest me, and I do so with a great sense of discovery.
You will be relocating from the Twin Cities soon. Could you reflect on the rich literary culture in Minnesota? How did the region help you as a writer?
Minneapolis/St. Paul has a true appreciation for the arts and humanities, including for creative writing Institutions such as The Loft Literary Center, great bookstores such as Magers & Quinn Booksellers and Common Good Books, have helped this area immensely. They create spaces to showcase new voices and encourage new work. I have seen the enthusiasm for poetry first-hand while giving readings and sharing Kicking Gravity with the community. For me personally, I think this region—and the support for the arts that is here—just encouraged me to be myself and write my best poems. I believe there are many great literary communities around this country and around the world, and I would encourage all writers, young and old, to seek out supportive spaces for the production and consumption of new work. These might include bookstores, writing centers, reading and writing groups and community organizations. I believe that the best tool for a writer anywhere is to be persistent; find opportunities to always keep writing. Just a few minutes a day, or even a few minutes every week, of reading and/or writing can help build the creative habit. I try to read and write when and where I can, as often as possible.