5Q :: Poet Deb Cooper gets 'Under the Influence' for new collection
The Coopers are quite the creative couple. Joel is one of the area's few screen print artists and his wife, Deborah, is a well-respected poet. While just one creative type in a relationship can be overwhelming for some, Deborah explained how it w...
The Coopers are quite the creative couple. Joel is one of the area's few screen print artists and his wife, Deborah, is a well-respected poet.
While just one creative type in a relationship can be overwhelming for some, Deborah explained how it works in their household: "I think because we both have our own creative art form, and we both like a lot of solitude for that, we really respect each other's need to have time away or time alone to do creative work," she said in a 2008 interview with the Budgeteer.
Perhaps it's this mindfulness of each other's processes that allows Deborah to be so prolific. Even though she helped edit last summer's well-received anthology "Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude," she's already gone and released another book of her works, the Clover Valley Press-published "Under the Influence of Lilacs."
We sent her an e-mail to get a little more information on it, her fifth book of poetry:
Budgeteer: The sense I get from reading about this new book is that it's about breathing life into the tried and true (subject-wise) -- is that how you would describe "Under the Influence of Lilacs"?
Cooper: I'd say that most of the poems in the book relate somehow to the ways in which we are connected: to one another, the living and the dead, to the natural and the spiritual world. And, yes, it is always the poet's challenge to find fresh language to articulate old truths and questions.
Speaking of the book's title, where did that come from? For lack of better phrasing, are you overwhelmed by the power of nature when you step outside and smell the flowers?
I wrote a poem about lilacs and the title presented itself. I liked it and decided to use it as the book title.
I do tend to feel a bit giddy at this time of year, though I generally do more writing in the fall and winter. It seems I need to write more in the darker times.
You are quite the prolific poet. Do you never feel the cold, hard slap of writer's block?
I am not someone who writes daily, or on any kind of a schedule. I need to wait for a poem to show up and tap me on the shoulder.
So, I do have months when I'm not writing much at all and then I might write six or eight poems in a flurry.
From all the different experiences you have to draw from, I found one to be most interesting: inmate mentor. Do any of those experiences at the St. Louis County Jail make their way into "Influence"?
Yes, I've noticed that the folks from the jail classes are showing up in my work, a population that had been excluded from my poetry and from my life experience just four years ago.
Finally, when can your fans expect the next collaborative exhibit with your husband Joel? Have you guys been working on anything together of late?
We'll have some collaborative images up over the summer at Adeline's Salon, with an opening sometime in June.
Summer for us is cabin season, looking for new ideas and images, sketching and scribbling.
NEWS TO USE
Deborah Gordon Cooper will sign copies of "Under the Influence of Lilacs" from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 26, at Northern Lights Books & Gifts in Canal Park. Call 722-5267 for details.