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The Writing Life: An Interview with Dobby Gibson

2013 September 10

The Writing LifeDobby_Gibson_Headshot

Editor’s Note: We’ve long been admirers of poet Dobby Gibson, thanks to his witty and humanly vulnerable approach to his art. You can imagine how tickled we were when he agreed to be one of our two featured readers for next week’s Words at WAM open mic at the Weisman Art Museum (co-presented by WAM Collective and yours truly). If you haven’t encountered his work, we strongly urge you to check out his newest collection of poems, It Becomes You, from Graywolf Press (you can read Wren’s review of it here). We hope you enjoy this teaser of an interview with Gibson as much as we do. See you next week at Words at WAM!

Hazel & Wren: Who is an author that continuously surprises you? 

Dobby Gibson: If you mean “continuously surprises” in a good way: Mary Ruefle.

H&W: E-reader or book?

DG: Both. Very few poetry titles are available on e-readers, so I still experience poetry primarily via codex. And for general around-the-house reading and perusing, I definitely prefer the book-as-object. But for traveling, I go with an e-reader. I travel a lot for work, and the way I pack has an entire methodology. I have highly defined ideas about global voltage converters alone.

H&W: What books are stacked by your bedside table (or your equivalent) right now, waiting to be read?

DG: Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter, a terrific biography despite the galling title. And Ex-Voto, a book of poems by Adelia Prado.

H&W: Which authors and/or teachers have most influenced your writing? How so?

DG: I write in a genre that I never studied formally in school. I took one poetry workshop in 1997 and found it to be waste of time. So my “teachers” have all been other poet-friends. Last week I had a great conversation with local poet Steve Healey at the State Fair that helped me realize things about poetry. Children of America, skip school and go to the State Fair with Steve Healey!

H&W: Most productive place for you to write (physically and/or mentally)? 

DG: You know how some authors’ book-jacket biographies say things like: “He divides his time between New York and Maine,” or “She splits her time between Berkeley and Colorado”? I split my writing life between the Dunn Bros. on East Lake Street and the Blue Moon Coffee Shop on East Lake Street. I’ve written two books in those shops — while being subjected to the sight of way too late-middle-aged men in cycling shorts on Saturdays. What is it about wearing those shorts in public that immediately requires a hot cup of coffee?


Psst: Check out this gorgeous MotionPoem of Gibson’s poem, “The Painter,” animated by Mark Rubbo. It’ll make your day.


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