Arthur Turfa is a writer, poet and teacher who lives in South Carolina. His poetry has the weight of place and person, and the ephemeral sense of love and loss.
We exchanged questions and answers. The link to my answers to his questions is listed below.
- You are an ordained Lutheran minister, have served in the U.S. Army and are a teacher. How have those aspects of your life influenced your writing?
They have made me aware of connections between places, things, and people. Additionally they have taken me to places/situations where I otherwise would never have been. As a pastor/chaplain I have had some significant moments of great joy, irony, and interest. Having taught on several levels I have learned to be more reflective.
There are poems about parishes I have served, places where I have taught, and even about my deployment to Germany.
- What was your inspiration to take up writing poetry?
At first I wanted to write lyrics for songs; by then I realized I would never be a guitarist. Having learned that Bob Dylan was well-read, I started to read poetry, and wanted to write my own.
After a few years I had to write research pears, lesson plans, sermons, and anything but poetry. But I always read and enjoyed poetry.
3. How does your writing influence your teaching?
As I teach poetry, often the same poems each semester, I develop more of an appreciation for them. Thereby I have more of a feel for these poems, and poetry in general. While I would not consider myself to be on a par with the poets whom I teach, I do have some insight into the creative process, and can relate to what they are doing.
I also make connections with some of what I write to things that I teach. When teaching sonnets, I show some of mine, done in various styles. When students speak to something that is in a poem, I will privately share the poem with them. some have even bought my books: at a discount!
- Who are the writers whose works you return to for enjoyment and/or inspiration?
The primary ones are W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, Rainier Maria Rilke and W.B. Yeats. I can read German easily, and with some care French. I find myself going through periods where I binge on a poet or a school.
Some prose writers influence me, especially John Updike. He gives a lot of detail about a scene, and that influences me.
- Describe your writing method. Are you a note taker? Do you write daily?
While I try to take notes, and usually keep an idea in my mind. Sometimes an image or idea pops into my head. I will work on it, often in longhand, and then revise on a computer. When I write, I like playing instrumental string music to provide a cushion from everything else.
Arthur’s books are available at these sites:
The link to my answers to Arthur’s questions: