A special happy birthday to Davis poet Walter Pavlich

August 8, 1999
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@ dcn.davis.ca.us

Today is poet Walter Pavlichís 44th birthday and he probably began celebrating his big day by getting up at the crack of dawn, driving to some faraway town and hurrying to be first in line at a flea market or antique show.

Pavlich is a collector of things that have stories attached to them. Some people might call the things he collects junk or, more nicely, collectibles. To Pavlich and those similarly afflicted they are pieces of history, pieces of another personís life and times. And sometimes they are quite valuable, to boot.

The fact that he runs an antique business on the Internet doesnít hamper his writing at all Ė one enhances the other, he says.

"They are two different activities completely that happen to co-mingle quite well," he said. "Sandy (poet Sandra McPherson, his wife) and I travel quite frequently to flea markets to engage in this ancient activity where people gather to buy and sell and barter in a big open space...you can get almost anything.

"Doing this has made me realize that things like a Grapette ice cooler probably from the í40s ....that these things have power...when you pick up something like that you time travel and it really gets my mind working. I think about how long this cooler has survived, whatís happened since it was made, what the world was like when it was made and the care that was taken to make it and design it.

"These associations are much like writing. Where has that cooler been? How many picnics has it been on and how did it end up at a flea market in Concord? It was an incredible find. And (an incredible find) usually means that someone has died, that it came out of an estate sale. So thereís a lot of poking around in what we do," he said.

"Itís very exciting, like a treasure hunt. The things kind of find us and speak to us and then in order to support our habit we sell some," he said. Pavlich didnít start out to be an antiques dealer. He probably didnít intend to be a poet, either. He describes himself as a kid from a working class background who was born and raised in Portland and never intended to live in California.

(He has lived in Davis since 1985 when Sandy got a teaching job at UC Davis.) "When I was a graduate student in Montana I knew I couldnít make a living being a poet. I got suggestions to be a piano tuner or a plumber because you could do both part time. Now I found this other thing you can do on the Internet besides play games on it," he said.

Those who are interested can go to www.springtrees.com to check out his antiques, and poetry lovers can go to a local independent book store to look for "Running Near the End of the World," a collection of his poetry. Pavlich says amazon.com classifies this as a rare book and recently charged him $30 for a copy. A great find!

Pavlich is not very interested in what he calls the business of poetry. By that he means the work that has to be done to find a publisher for his poetry even though his mother and other well-meaning folks urge him to produce another collection. He has enough material for three more collections but, at the moment, not the ambition.

"If I had to choose Iíd choose to be a better person than a better writer," he says. "Iíve learned to relax, even take naps. The poems happen when they do. "You have to have ambition to get published and do all things you need to do...to do the hustle to find the publisher, win the award, win the prize so that someone will take it on. I donít push it anymore."

Nonetheless, he was asked to be a guest writer at the University of Hawaii two years ago, a semester-long job that sounds like it might be considered a plum. He has written poems about Hawaii, poems about bee stings, poems about fire-fighting -- many things including one of his favorite subjects: dead comedians. Specifically, Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. One of his poems is "Buster Keaton Sees His First Movie."

"I try to recapture some of the wonder people had when they saw their first movies," he said.

You might say that Pavlich tries to do that with each of his poems, no matter what the topic.

To inquire about ordering any of the above mentioned books from an independent bookstore,
Bogey's Books at discounted prices [ Click Here ]

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