Behind the Words: Neil Carpathios

Posted by on May 17, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Behind the Words: Neil Carpathios

Neil Carpathios’ poem “Intro to Boredom 101” from Spry’s Issue #4 takes on a poet’s worst nightmare – boring people. He explores how folks become boring in the first place, and how it spreads like a plague. Neil’s poem does this in a neat way, blending humor with fantastic imagery that is anything but a lesson in boredom.

Katie Eber: I love poems that start out with a good, witty setup, and I think “Intro to Boredom 101” does that really well. It stays grounded, though, in its delight of visual detail. How did you keep the funny of this poem from boiling over and taking over the whole thing?

Neil Carpathios: Really, the “funny” is mainly due to the references relating “the disease” of boredom to sex and birth—in the opening lines and then later toward the end of the poem. The rest of the poem is, for the most part, quite serious, cataloging items that we humans might hurry past and not fully notice or know. I think that these items, mainly conveyed through visual and concrete descriptions, nicely balance the more humorous touches, as mentioned. The humor in the opening and toward the end almost act as bookends to the more serious middle portion. Or–like an Oreo cookie! The humor is the cookie parts and the serious is the crème in the middle.

You punctuate some of your longer lines with very short ones. How does an idea of balance figure into how you approach a poem?

I often feel that, like a musical score, there must be some variety of syntax and punctuation in order to sustain a rhythmic flow and interest for the reader. Too many long lines in a row and the reader might be inadvertently lulled into a sluggish or—-no pun intended—boring state of mind. Too many choppy, short lines, and the poem might come across too jerky. Especially in a poem that incorporates cataloging and listing and parallel structure, variety is needed for balance.

The poem approaches boredom like a disease. How did you make that leap?

I’m not sure how I thought of that. I think that this notion may have grown out of the opening lines about boredom being an almost physical trait that can come from parents, much like eye color, body type, etc., or an inherited affliction like many other diseases. Boredom is believed to be something that we as humans fall prey to, which is what the poem is really about. The idea that it might be inside of us from birth, although not grounded in scientific fact, is a fun little twist on the idea of boredom.

Not to get too philosophical here, but why do you think we tend to “fall out of love with amazement?” Do you think poets are (in some ways) perpetual kids who manage to retain a sense of wonder?

I think that you’re right. We grow up too fast, at least in terms of how we take-in the world. Maybe the poet’s job is to reveal how the ordinary all around us is really not that ordinary. Maybe the poet’s job is to lend a freshness of vision to things. Little children are the greatest poets. We all were poets once, but most of us lose that sense of wonder as we age. To be amazed, to be surprised, to be moved….these things sometimes actually take some work. Artists of all kinds are on this earth to combat laziness of perception and feeling. When I read or view or hear a work of art, I want to feel the thrill of being alive, like I did when I first walked on a beach or saw a rainbow or tasted a watermelon. This might be putting a lot of pressure on artists to assist with this desire, but it is a lofty and sacred part of the job.

Neil’s new collection Confessions of a Captured Angel is out at Terrapin Books. You can connect with Neil through his website.

Katie Eber holds a B.A. in English Literature from Roanoke College and is a 2014 graduate from the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Fairfield University. Her work has appeared in On Concept’s Edge, Hobo Pancakes, Garbanzo Literary Journal, Quail Bell Magazine, and MadHad Lit. She is the current Poet Laureate for the town of Wallingford, CT.
Katie enjoys good beer, good sandwiches, and advocating for widespread use of business hammocks.