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Member Spotlight for the Month of December 2005 - Philip F De Pinto

The average writer tends to reveal their age in their work. And the appeal of their writing usually remains in the same area. No shame in that, of course, as there's always potential for great work in any given writer, regardless of age. But with the better ones, the stand outs, whether in verse or prose, their work almost always had a better chance of capturing anyone's interest, because they don't concern themselves with age. The work always has and always will come first for them, and it has a certain timelessness, coupled with enthusiasm. If someone writes this way with energy at an early age, and that energy maintains itself twenty or thirty or more years down the line, then readers are going to follow. Kurt Vonnegut, who has currently has a new book out, at eighty-two, is a good example.

Philip F. De Pinto, at fifty-seven, who has been writing for most of his life, is another example. Philip was born on January 3rd, 1947, on the Italian Peninsula, in the fishing village of Molfetta on the coast of Arulia. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1955. Philip has been a member of the Pathetic community for almost four years. “It was not so much a compulsion [to join] as desperation,” he says. “Pathetic became the salvage ship for a lot of poets including myself, who were foundering in their lifeboats when the poetry site we belonged to called Poesie.com went under. It was at the urging of a fellow Poesie poet named Chris Sorrenti that we hop on board Pathetic. We did, and the rest is history as they say.” From this alone, it's not surprising to know that his three years at Jersey State College included a major in Fine Arts, though he admits that it was a long time coming. “Things tended to get in the way from me attending sooner, like getting drafted into the military, soon after I graduated Hoboken High School.”

When asked if his early years in Italy had any effect on his growth as a writer, Philip says, “If you would call it that, if only for the fact that it was my starting point, a springboard, and if you will permit me a few other metaphors and similes, was the very yeast, the leaven from which the loaf of my expression began to lift and continues to make its meteoric rise.” He adds to this by saying, “And, although I may have been uprooted and replanted on American turf, still clumps of my native soil continue to cling and continue to nurture and resonate in their own subtle way to the uppermost branches of my art and, hopefully, from their persistence my work is growing.”

In addition to his hometown, Philip has also found inspiration for growth and developing a style in the works of great writers such as Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, Anton Chekhov and Henry Miller, and poets such as Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Yeats, Whitman, Frost, Langston Hughes, Neruda, Eliot, Plath, and many more. “I have been and continue to be a sponge,” he explains. “And as a result, I am not ashamed to say that I have been influenced in subtle and not so subtle ways by every significant writer that I have ever read.” Indeed, one just has to look at three poems Philip chose as his favorites, Lady Fingers, Lynch of Pearls, and Toulouse, to see the work of a writer using his own voice and ideas but still giving the respectful nod to those who influenced him.

He is also quick to point out that this influence doesn't extend to being derivative. “But influenced in a way that is not parroting/mimicking their styles but complimentary and supplemental and supportive their influences have been to discovering my own style and influence.” And the list certainly includes fellow Pathetic writers, but Philip opts not to mention anyone specific. “I will only say that the few I hold dear and in high esteem know who they are already, for my telling them so at every turn.” He doesn't believe he has a particular style that qualifies as his favorite. “I employ any style or method to get me through the Poetic Night.” But again, he isn’t afraid to cite an influence. “If I were to pigeonhole myself and be forced to choose to use one style, then I would not hesitate to say T.S Eliot's.”

Like any writer, Philip finds the work both rewarding and, at times, difficult. Asked why he does it despite the difficulty, he says, “The same thing I love about writing is what I love about all the plastic mediums, in that they are malleable and will take to the shape I choose or have in mind and although words are often stubborn as mules, there is a challenge in using your best diplomacy to stir them to action to some useful end.” As for the more difficult end of the spectrum, his answer is just as simple, believing that the hardest part about writing is, “To prevent it from becoming stale and repetitious, and the efforts required in keeping a constant vigil that it doesn't become overconfident and contented and cocky or smug and comfortable.” This sentiment seems to be something of a staple not only in his work, but in his own personal philosophy on poetry, which in turn extends to his advice for others. “If writing is a leap into the sea, then they should not hesitate on that sea to make their impact and in that leap they may, if they delve into it deep enough, pluck of it the necessary pearls to make for themselves proud necklaces or other charms.” He adds, “Or if writing is a joust, then they should go into it dashingly with their charger and lance, fearless to be gored or knocked off their steeds, but there is a damsel at the end of that endeavor, should they decide to take such chance. And by all means, read, read, read, and write, write, write.”

As stated before, one of the signs of a great writer is someone who can maintain their love of the work over a long period of time. Few on Pathetic exhibit this quality any better than Philip F. De Pinto. He continues to enjoy bringing his poetry to others, and only plans on continuing in this and getting better at it. “Like that proverbial joke that asks the question, where should an elephant sit and the retort is that it should sit wherever it wants, likewise my writing can go anywhere it wishes,” he says. “Or I suppose where I will it, but it is not anywhere physical that I would point it toward, to Make its way in the world or to receive accolades, although that is something worth striving for, more importantly at least for me, is to put my efforts into improving my writing and if it decides or I decide it has somewhere to go, then it is up to it or me to choose what direction and hopefully where my writing chooses to go, I will follow.”

As will anyone up for some fascinating, insightful poetry. The kind of stuff that can, and usually does, take us virtually anywhere a talented writer is capable of taking us.

(written by Gabriel Ricard)

The following is a list of the highlights of Philip F De Pinto's poetry:


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Author: Bruce W Niedt

The member spotlighted in this month's "Member Spotlight" is chosen by the pathetic.org Spotlight committee, which is made up of a small group of site patrons and administrators. Each month a member is selected for this privilege based upon contributions to pathetic.org and the quality of work.

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