George Reporter: Congratulations Frank on winning the poetry contest with “The Rough Stuff.” It’s quite a powerful poem; may I ask what inspired it?
Frank: Alot of years living on the edge I would say. Not by choice- but out of necessity. Way back in the day I hitch hiked across the country 3 times. I came from the edge of the crack where people get lost- had two parents that were Language Professors at Purdue University, neither of which seemed to have a clue of life outside of academics.
I have to assume that when I graduated High School- they for some reason never took an active role in assuring that said progeny would be going to an institution of higher learning. I think in the long run- it was a combination of me being a
typical teenager and saying I didn’t care- that translated into me living by the seat of my pants for the next year after.
But I had good friends and family- so it helped.
Totally got the clue after “A Year of Living Dangerously” (title of a great movie) that youthful inspiration runs in one cup- and doesn’t refill.
Joined the Navy, became a corpsman, did time with the Marines, trained for advanced medicine at the National Navy Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.
The Philippines come to mind as that is where I transcended to adulthood …
Good surf and a lot of sharks, jelly fish, and some sort of green snakes- all of which will kill you in a heartbeat.
Basically it’s a beat down in the South China sea. But I like the fact that I went to town on it. I learned to Water Ski there- did a lot of snorkeling. It was one of those things where you trained yourself to ignore obvious peril- and just lived as hard as you could. Partly youth- partly military- 100 % alive. No fear- that is what life is all about. You get knocked down but you get up again (one of my favorite songs).
Yada Yada Yada- what inspired the “Rough Stuff”?
Well I am a perfusionist now. I have a life that is consumed with making sure I can keep people alive during the process of open-heart surgery- I operate the heart lung machine prerequisite for this type of operation. Pretty specialized medicine, am board certified by our governing body (American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion) and am licensed in several states as well.
I was living in a hotel room across from Lake Superior when I wrote the poem. I had a 2 month stint in Duluth MN, and the window from the second floor of the hotel was what I stared at. Grey and greyer…
Some really windy stuff passed by me- and less and less ships sailed past as the winter became winter.
Rough waters, but people in Minnesota are tough and tougher.
A shout out for Greta Johnson, her man Tim, and daughters Karly, Annika, the great cardiac surgeon Dr. Konda, and my buddy Jeff Amendola. But it was my wife, Kashmir that got me through. Really decent folk and the best of the best if you want any member of your family surviving heart surgery. If you have the squeeze in Duluth- go to them.
To Kash I owe my heart.
George Reporter: Quite impressive, Frank! This surely explains “The Rough Stuff,” and I’m certain it’s safe to say this will open the reader’s mind to many things that may have been going through yours at the time.
Your choice of words, “youthful inspiration runs in one cup – and doesn’t refill” – is there anything you would like to say to the youth of America
in terms of how writing and/or documentation of one’s deepest emotions may be conducive to wellness from a medical standpoint?
Frank: Placing thoughts on paper is the mental equivalent to lifting free weights to buff your self out. Is it a catharsis?
Yes and no. I have never felt that writing in and of itself was a means for stress relief, rather the process allows me to wrangle out feelings I have regarding a particular issue or set of circumstances.
Writing is art. You are taking that thousand word journey to make the painting real to the reader’s mind. A lot of key strokes for one free form brush stroke. Conversely, cut and paste is not a plausible option for most painters. Subtlety and nuances lie in wait as one types. The proverbial “one fell swoop” is manifested or passed by- depending on placement
or omission of just a single word, comma or phrase.
Do I advocate writing as a process for wellness? I would have to say yes. The pen being mightier than the sword is a cautionary tale to young authors out there- a morality and personal sense of ethics is not a presumption, it is a necessity.
Honesty in writing will never do or bring harm.
George Reporter: Writing is an art as you have demonstrated through your poem and responses. We sincerely thank you, Frank, and send you many congratulations for a fine piece of literature and wish you the best of continued success!