Saturday, April 09, 2016

Between the Lines: Deadman and Mad Angler

by Zinta Aistars

for WMUK 102.1 FM
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate

Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guests: Michael Delp

Michael Delp (Photo by Claudia Delp)

Now that he's retired, you'll most often find Michael Delp at his cabin on the Boardman River, near Traverse City, where he lives. Chances are he's chomping on a cheap cigar, a dog at his side, contemplating fish. Or poetry.

Delp was the long-time director of creative writing at the Interlochen Academy, a mentor and advisor with the Front Street Writers Program, and he's still on the editorial board for the Michigan Writers Series at Wayne State University Press. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry and prose. But when two personas took him over, he channeled them into a poetry collection called, Lying in the River's Dark Bed: The Confluence of the Deadman and the Mad Angler (Wayne State University Press, April 2016).

“The Deadman is old, very old in terms of my chronology,” says Delp. “I probably ran into him about 30 years ago. I was teaching somewhere, and a friend of mine came up to see me. We were talking poems one night. He handed me a poem and there was mention of Deadman in it. Just that word, nothing more. It struck me somehow. I went back to my room and was writing some notes, and I had this really odd feeling, something I’ve never felt before—I wasn’t in charge anymore.”
Delp wrote a stream of poems about Deadman that night, and he kept writing more over the years. He says Deadman is the perfect paradox, the perfect contradiction, a kind of trickster.
“He can be killed, but he can’t die. He’s very bright; he’s not bright at all. You should trust him implicitly; you shouldn’t trust him at all. He can be anything he wants. It’s just fun to let him talk.”
The Mad Angler, the second persona that appears in Delp’s poems, was born from ...

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