Nancy Guppy Interviews Acclaimed Poets Christine Deavel and J.W. Marshall

Nancy Guppy waxes poetic with Christine Deavel and J.W. Marshall
nancy guppy arts in seattle seattle magazine
Nancy Guppy (center) with Open Books owners J.W. Marshall and Christine Deavel

Owners of Wallingford’s longstanding “poem emporium,” Open Books (, romantic and business partners J.W. Marshall and Christine Deavel are also acclaimed poets. This month they’ll read together for Seattle Arts & Lectures (3/19, 7:30 p.m.;
LOCATION: A Muddy Cup in Wallingford, on a mild January day
DRINKS: John, a latte (and cheese Danish); Christine, tea (and bran muffin)

NG: It’s 2014 and you own a brick-and-mortar poetry bookstore. Are you insane?
CD: Would we know?
JWM: I’m not sure the DSM has a category for us.

NG: Why do you write poetry?
JWM: Because I like going there. Besides the physicality of going to write, I get to go somewhere and investigate it in words.
CD: I don’t know why, but I’ve been doing it since I was 5.

NG: How would you describe Christine the poet?
JWM: Remarkable. Visionary. Amazing imagery. I love reading her work.
NG: How would you describe John the poet?
CD: Risk taking. Deeply musical. Dark and loving all at once.

NG: How do you listen to a poem?
JWM: I’ve been listening with my eyes closed at readings because listening can be a palpable thing, and I feel like I have to shut down my other senses to be able to suck it in.
CD: I listen as a beginner. I don’t bring expectations or worry. I just let it wash over.

NG: Does poetry surprise or scare you?
CD: Constantly! If you’re not scared, you’re not in it. You need to be uncomfortable.
JWM: And if the writer isn’t surprised, the reader won’t be.

NG: Is there a secret to writing poetry?
CD: Reading poetry. If you want to write it, you need to read it.
JWM: And you actually need to do it.

NG: When do you know if one of your poems is good?
CD: Never.
JWM: I think of [Emily] Dickinson, who said that when she felt the top of her head lifted off, that’s when she knew it was poetry.

Nancy Guppy showcases Seattle artists on her show, Art Zone (