A Glimpse into the Heart of Poet and Author David Plumb
by Stephanie Krulik| printable version
Summer 2010| Volume XXIII, Number 2
With the Florida sun kicking at his back, books and papers tucked under his arm, author and poet David Plumb enters the room: "My new book and poem, News On A March Full Moon, was just awarded a 2010 Pushcart Prize.” Smiling, he says it again – and why not? This prestigious American Literary Award is given by the editors of small literary presses for up to six works they have featured in one year. The work is published in an anthology.
Plumb’s war poem − a personal, poignant people poem − absorbs death and personal names and the exclamation, "By the way, it's a full moon. Look out the window, it's a perfect sky."
That's Plumb. That's how Plumb thinks − how he tackles life and words and the entire universe. He dances across time. He’s written about social and political issues in eight books, including The Music Stopped and Your Monkey's on Fire; The Magenta Hotel and Man in a Suitcase. The latter, he admits, "is sometimes a confessional, sometimes a metaphor for people who can't stay put. 'We all take our buses across town and back.'"
Plumb lived an eclectic youth: he moved around the country, worked in medical-technical jobs as a paramedic and a U.S. Naval officer. He received an M.A. in English and Political Science from Syracuse University. At the age of 24 his life changed. "I went to a party where somebody was reading Lawrence Ferlinghetti's 'Coney Island of the Mind'. I went home and the next day I began to write," he says.
Plumb has been writing about social and political issues for 35 years. An adjunct professor of English at Broward College’s North Campus, he lives in western Broward County with his wife, Lorraine. He is a morning writer; most of his work begins in the early morning silence of his home den. He has a blog, "Notes From a Wavering Planet.”
Plumb found a different voice in his newest historical novel, Flight to Point Reyes, about an ex-con released from prison in 1938. "Most of the story takes place on the plane," he says. "It was a fun, wonderful project."
All his projects are wonderful. His stories and poetry cry to be read out loud. The reader becomes the poem. He offers, "I have to use an internal rhyme. I have to find my own voice." He adds, "I don't care if you're a poet. What I care about is that you have a place inside you to create." His sense of what is real and what is frivolous that he finds in places like The Miami Herald, St. Martin's Anthologies and Homeless Not Helpless provides the tangos and cha-chas of daily life.
Like life dancing on a string. Like his 2009 book of personal poems, Poetry on Strings, a collaborative effort with artist Pablo Cano's whimsical marionettes made from recycled material. He explains, "I knew I had to take the voice of what these dancing strings are and who they are and make poetry." Perhaps it was poetry when he raised chickens and ducks in Sonoma, Calif.
Perhaps it is the book A Slight Change in the Weather that tells the “why” of it rather than the “how.” Plumb finds life in death and death in life. He is fragile and strong; he finds the heart in people and life. He says, "We have a lot of magic in our own voice if we hear it. But, the hardest thing to do is listen."
ONE OF THE COOL ONES
You obsess about the woman
you met at the conference on Ipod health
who took an immediate liking to you.
She’s odd, strange, a nut case.
You like the type.
Half in the clouds, the rest all business
In this case, she took care of the uncle
who had Parkinson’s until he died.
That’s what she said over Pasta Alfredo
in the dark restaurant just off
the southeast end of Boston Commons,
the one with the bad salad and the waiter with zits
You liked her, you got along, you walked her
to the small hotel with the doorman who eyed you wearily.
He’d seen you before.
And it seemed nothing more than friendly when
you leaned over to peck her cheek
and this big whacky woman
this woman who is not on the cover
of any hot magazine but she is the cover and the show
why her mouth sucked you right to heaven and that was that.
You were back on the street trying to wipe lipstick off in the dark.
So here you are on this snowy day
obsessing, wanting to lick every inch of her
bite her, only she is in Rio; she just called.
Her studio overlooks Sugarloaf, what a view!
Later she’s going to the Amazon to paint
Would you care to come along?
Yes Carnival was fine, yes she danced.
She’s almost a pro-fessional dancer.
She has International status she said.
That’s what she said from Rio.
And the snow sweeps the window
and you obsess about her legs
her mouth, the rest and
the snow falls down.
© David Plumb