Our guest today is Gary Copeland Lilley who lives, teaches, mentors, and flourishes as a poet and musician in the idyllic seaside town of Port Townsend, Washington. Gary is the author of eight books of poetry, and is published widely. Gary generously serves and creates community through initiatives like his Writer’s Workshoppe where poets are invited to “do your poetic thing with a focus on the crafting of poems, and on not judging poets.”
I met Gary several years back when he was leading faculty at the Centrum Port Townsend Writer’s Conference. It was a joy for me to sit in Gary’s presence, listen to tales of poetry and his days in the Navy, consider his rich insights, and stretch myself in a new context of American poetry culture. And the icing on the cake was hearing Gary play the blues at our evening open mics. (Hey friends, if you ever have a chance to attend Centrum, go!)
Thanks so much for honouring us by being here today, Gary. I’m excited because we get to experience you reading a poem (via video), and you’ve brought another poem in print. There’s something very special about hearing a poet read their work, I think.
If folk would like a taste of a little more about you, or purchase your poetry collections, they can start HERE, HERE, and HERE. As we have become accustomed to doing each day, we are going to ask you three questions;
Lesley-Anne: We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?
Gary: I am spending my time with the guitar. I love singing. I’ve written a few songs that I’m still working on. Also, I’m learning some good songs to cover. Woody Guthrie songs and Wobblie (International Workers of the World) songs. These are hyper-political dust-bowl type of times, and, for me, that loops right back into writing poems.
Lesley-Anne: Why is poetry/art important?
Gary: Hmmm, a better question for me is when has it not been important? The beauty of the expression of things within our lives is one of the greatest joys of humankind. It is truly a gift from God to be shared with others.
Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?
Gary: Today, in my small town of Port Townsend, WA a woman from somewhere else and in a hurry to get where she was going was honking her horn in the sparse traffic. That never happens here.
We’ll move now into the world of your poems. In a time when we can feel distant from one another, I’m grateful for this month’s poetry party that was for me a drawing closer. Thank you for spending this time with us, Gary.
Peace, and poetry,