Tuesday, 11 January 2011

One Stop Spotlight - George Pappas aka GPWriter

George Pappas is a poet, novelist and a life long resident of Southern California. He blogs at Backyard Poetry and can also be found on Twitter @gpwriter. I have met him through One Shot Wednesday. What I like is his honesty and the courage to touch "hot potatoes" with his poems.

George often chooses social, critical or political themes for his poetry and always provides an introduction about how he came to write these. I asked him about this and he answered that he doesn't try to explain the poem in a literal sense. He prefers to explain his motivations for the poem, giving the reader more insight into his creative process. He views the intro as a part of the poem in a sense.

George thinks that Blog Poems should be a multi media experience for the reader and his certainly are! I can highly recommend paying him a visit over at Backyard Poetry

So please sit back and enjoy what George has to share about himself and his motivation, which led to writing this excellent poem he has chosen for One Stop Poetry today

~ Claudia

Since I started writing poetry while a student at California State Long Beach in the 1980s, I strived to create poems that were provocative, and challenge the statusquo in society, politics and life. I feel it is the role of a poet to cover all aspects of living, including writing about controversial ,political ,and religious themes; issues that,unfortunately, many poets avoid. I strive to do this in different and unique ways.  It could be imagining a tourist ad for a tour of Guantanamo Bay detention camp as in my poem “Guantanamo Bay Tour,” or as in my poem “Ethnic Cleansing” musing about an ad campaign for such practices with the tagline: “Bought and sold wherever intolerance is found.”

One poetry class I took in college, which was taught by noted poet Elliot Fried, really had a lasting impact on me. Professor Fried encouraged us to look for poetry everywhere and in everything around us and to think differently about what could be a subject for a poem. He would give us an assignments where we would have to create poems off the page using video, pictures or images.

My following poem “Would the Crucifixion Have Been Televised?” is one such example of  looking for an off beat way to address the troubling state of the TV news business.

I was frustrated and tired with weeks of coverage about the death of JFK Jr.  Each year, it seems, the national press, especially the cable and TV networks, become increasingly myopic in their coverage. This is truly reflected during major news events.  They feature 24/7 coverage of one event or controversy relentlessly covering every angle. Sometimes that is justified as with 9/11, the Iraq war, or JFK’s assassination other times it is questionable as following the death of Pope John Paul and other overblown stories. It is overkill to say the least.

It got me to thinking about how other  historic events such as the Crucifixion might be covered by our modern news industry.

That led to this poem




I wonder if the crucifixion
took place today
would it be televised

Would the plethora of TV cable channels
cover every aspect
of the death
of Christ
on the cross?

a press briefing
with Roman officials
explaining their actions.

Think of
profiles on the apostles,
in-depth interviews
with Jesus’ followers
and an exclusive interview
with Judas entitled:
“Why he betrayed Christ: Judas defends himself.”

Ponder the exclusive reports
with those who claim to have witnessed God’s miracles,
including a shocking profile on the blind man
who claims Christ restored his sight.

Or a story on a follower who says to have heard Jesus’ last words
or yet another who saw Jesus walk on water
or still another who witnessed Christ’s resurrection.

That would be followed by
an exclusive feature
on Mary discussing the Immaculate Conception.

This tabloid TV culture
without a doubt would turn the
the Crucifixion
into huge ratings.

All meaning ultimately
lost in the torrent of coverage
nailed relentlessly into
our empty souls and lurid imaginations.

George Pappas
Copyright 2010


dustus said...

Learned about George's work through One Shot Wednesday, and always look forward to his new material, especially his socially conscious poetry. WOULD THE CRUCIFIXION HAVE BEEN TELEVISED? reminds me of how the media spins certain events into so many maddening, repetitive circles——until meaning is lost. Excellent spotlight!

Anonymous said...

Excellent social commentary!

Anonymous said...

Excellent social commentary!

the walking man said...

*bump* I now have to go to where he writes and look at more. Thanks guys.

Pete Marshall said...

this is a very interesting spotlight that does lend itself to a debate.

What is poetry if it not firstly an expression of what we feel, but then the great poets write beyond that and write what is asked of them?

Does sharing your views mean that everyone is in agreement or could you alienate your audience by clinging to hard to your own beliefs?

What role does the poet have in modern society?

Throwing these questions in does not mean that i either agree or disagree i am just interested in your views

Georges poem here stuck out the first time i read it...its not how it is written but what it asks? The media do go overboard at times but when they are competing in a world where the internet rules and anything goes, who is responsible for stretching those boundaries..the media or the reader, who generally is the one posting on the internet?

Who is also to judge what is overhyped? George mentions that the media coverage of, for arguments sake, the Iraq War was justified where as the death of Pope John Paul was not..and yet there are 1.3 billion catholics in the world that could of found the coverage justified. I am not a catholic by the way or not saying that the coverage of the Iraq war was not justified.

Georges poem is very valid in its point and in answer to the question, yes it would have been televised, but that is because as boundaries are weakened people become less shocked and it is news that people would want to see.

Perhaps therefore we are all at fault...

Brian Miller said...

nice. think i read this originally on your site...great piece of social commentary...

hedgewitch said...

Excellent spotlight, especially considering the events of this weekend. I agree completely that those of us who work with words have an important role in using them to speak the truth, and to encourage people to think. GP's work with the cable tv crucifixion here is a prime example.I've been come across some of his work through One Stop and twitter;look forward to reading more in future.

moondustwriter said...

I think it would be interesting to have a look at different poets and where their writing passion lies. Maybe not a debate in the truest sense but a look at the inspiration all the same.

George thanks for letting One Stop feature you I like a little controversy though as a romantic and a children's writer I ofter stay clear..

Best with your book!!!

robinintheuk said...

So good to see you spotlighted here. As someone previously mentioned, excellent timing. Are you a poet or a prophet?

Love this most recent work.

Dave Holloway said...

This writing makes me wonder why Jesus's execution today would be any more spectacular than anyone else's execution? Unfortunately we don't televise executions so I doubt his would be televised unless they could green screen the background and put in a bunch of explosions. You know, make him a real money maker.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Wow, amazing poem! And what great advice! "look for poetry everywhere and in everything around" that is really where great poems can come from!

George Pappas said...

HI Pete and everyone,
Thanks for your interesting comments and questions. Very intriguing.
Let me say first that a poet's feeling or passion for a poem's subject comes from the same source whether writing about your own heart or the world around you.

However, I will stress again that I do believe that it is the poet's, writer's and artist's role in our society to engage their audience and perhaps allow them to see controversial issues in a different light through interesting language and content.
yes, there is always a risk you will offend someone. There's no getting away from that, but I am not as a poet and writer telling anyone what to believe or how to think, I am only asking questions about our lives. My favorite poets -- Charles Bukowski, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, Wanda Coleman, etc. -- never shied away from thorny political subjects. Just think of Ginsberg's amazing "Howl," a stunning rebuke of American society or Bukowski's searing poems about how our work places, schools and generally apathy can ruin our lives. Ferlinghetti wrote a moving poem about the Waco disaster which he ended with a powerful suggestion: if there had been one Buddist in control of the situation no one would have died. Yes, that's his personal opinion, but also makes you think differently about Waco, which was his intention.

Also my comment about the coverage of the death of Pope John Paul was not an attack on Catholics. I was just frustrated with how CNN and other TV networks covered the Pope story for weeks and weeks while ignoring (in my country anyway) details of the Iraq War which took one of its deadliest turns of the war.

I only used the Crucifixion in this poem as a means to discuss the state of the TV news business and influence it has over our lives and our understanding of the world.

Thanks for the wonderful spotlight on my work.
I really appreciate it.

George Pappas

California Girl said...

Wonderful commentary on the state of our national dialog via "the media".