Interview with Geoffrey Philp

CLS: Mr. Philp, you have been blogging enthusiastically since 2005. What made you start doing it and how has it rewarded you?

Geoffrey Philp: I began blogging at the suggestion of my daughter and the rewards have been tremendous. I am not only doing something that I love, but it has served as a viable platform for advertising my work.

CLS: On your blog, you dedicate a significant number of articles on Caribbean writers. What are your thoughts on the present volume and quality of prose and poetry produced in the Caribbean?

Geoffrey Philp: I am amazed that we have so many active published writers in the Caribbean and its diaspora. The quality of the prose and poetry that has been produced in the past few years has been extraordinary. I’m thinking about, for example, the work of Jennifer Rahim, Frances Coke, Opal Palmer Adisa, Kwame Dawes, and Kei Miller to name a few.

I’m also gratified by the work of critics such as Heather Russell and Donna Aza Weir Soley, whose work has opened up a new critical appreciation of our writers.

CLS: You also teach class. Please tell us a little about that. How long have you been teaching and who are your students? What makes you love your work?

Geoffrey Philp: I have taught introductory creative writing classes to freshmen/sophomores at Miami Dade College and workshops for writers of every age for over twenty years now. Many students come into the class eager to express themselves, and they want to learn how to write short stories and poems. If they are willing, I teach them, for instance, the basics of a scene: narration, dialogue, setting, and point of view. One of the hardest things to do is to balance their exuberance against the cold hard fact of the craft which is writing and rewriting and rewriting…
Yet when they understand a simple concept such as character change through the beginning, middle, and end of the story, it makes everything worthwhile. I still receive books in the mail from students whenever they’ve published their first book or nth short story.

Knowing that I have helped someone to follow his/her passion is a wonderful feeling and it’s why I teach.
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