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Poet Tim Greenup creates a coming-of-age collection in ‘Without Warning’

Poet Tim Greenup (Courtesy)
Poet Tim Greenup (Courtesy)

This weekend, Scablands Books will release two poetry collections from the Spokane poets Ellen Welcker and Tim Greenup.

The boutique press is the brainchild of novelist Sharma Shields and is an offshoot of Scablands Lit, a nonprofit literary organization that supports artists and writers in the Inland Northwest.

The pair will read their work at a book launch Saturday at Auntie’s Bookstore, where they’ll be joined by Simeon Mills, whose graphic novel “Butcher Paper” also is available through Scablands Books.

Welcker is the author of the 2010 poetry collection “The Botanical Garden,” as well as two chapbooks, and her work has appeared in Pinwheel, Horse Less Press, Ink Node, Railtown Almanac and The Spokesman-Review, among others. Her new collection is called “Ram Hands.”

Greenup, who teaches writing and literature at Spokane Falls Community College, is releasing his first collection, “Without Warning.” His work has appeared in BOAAT Press, LEVELER, interrupture, Railtown Almanac and elsewhere. In this email Q&A, Greenup talks about the themes and inspiration for his book.

Q. When did the idea of putting together a collection first come to you?

A. I’ve fantasized about having a poetry collection ever since I began writing poems, which was in high school. Doing the work of actually piecing together a collection probably began in earnest for me about six years ago when I began making small groupings of poems to submit to chapbook contests. Considering the ways the poems play off of, respond to, and echo each other seemed like an extension of one of my favorite high school hobbies, which was making mixed tapes. Maybe this is a way of saying I’ve never left high school.

Q. There are some pretty dark poems in “Without Warning,” interspersed with moments of hilarity and terrific word play. (“Sharma says that magic is normal/and Sam says that Magic is anything but/Could a normal personal handle the ball like that?”) Is there an overarching theme to “Without Warning”?

A. It’s a coming of age collection, or that’s how I thought of it as I worked at sequencing the poems. A lot of the poems have to do with boyhood, adolescence, adulthood. More broadly though I think the collection is concerned with change and the disorienting nature of sudden change. Most of the poems were written in the aftermath of some significant changes in my life, like the death of my mother. That change plays heavily in the collection. And I suppose saying the poems are concerned with change is another way of saying they’re concerned with loss. In that sense, the poems in “Without Warning” are like most other poems.

Q. There are some recurring characters in “Without Warning” (Hello, Terry and Julie). Was it fun/challenging to weave these characters throughout the collection?

A. The collection really began for me with the Terry and Julie poems. I had a chapbook manuscript of just those poems, and gradually integrated my newer work into that manuscript. So those poems provided the basis for the collection. That’s why Terry appears early on in the collection and is also central to the last poem in the book. All things begin and end with Terry, who is, to answer your question, great fun.

Q. What do you hope people can take away from reading “Without Warning”?

A. My main hope is that people take pleasure in the experience of the poems – the images, sounds, rhythms – the way someone takes pleasure in the experience of listening to the music of a favorite song or looking at a favorite painting. Beyond that I don’t have any specific takeaways in mind for the collection.

Q. As a teacher at SFCC, what is the most important advice you can offer to aspiring writers, be they poets, fiction writers, journalists, songwriters or whatever?

A. There’s a time for being creative and there’s a time for being critical of what you create. Both are important to fully realizing your creative vision and ensuring its quality, but I wouldn’t suggest trying to be creator and critic at the same time. At best, doing so will suppress the imaginative power of your work, and at worst it will lead you to stop creating altogether. This is not new advice, but it’s worth remembering.

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