Rachael Popek is the producer for R Jeffreys’ popular radio show the Write Step and is the Executive Coordinator, (working alongside Program Coordinator and Co-Chair R Jeffreys , and Coordinating Liaison and Co-Chair Kathleen Bitetti) for the 100,000 Poets for Change event at the Boston Public Library, Copley Branch, Sept 29 at 1p.m. to 3p.m. According to Popek’s website the event will be”…the largest, single poetry reading in the history of the world. This event will also be archived, recorded and stored at Stanford University in California, and simulcast throughout the globe that day.”
Popek is also a Master Pastry Chef working for MultiGrains Bakery as an R&D specialist and Quality Director. I talked with Popek on my Somerville Community Access TV show Poet to Poet: Writer to Writer.
Doug Holder: You are intimately involved in the 100,000 Poets for Change event next month at the Boston Public Library in September. You are not a poet…how and why did you get involved?
Rachel Popek: I am not a poet. My good friend R. Jefferys is the poet; I produce his radio show The Write Step on Blogtalk Radio. So when he decided to organize the 100,000 Poets for Change event, I went along with it. And I have become absolutely enamored with it. It is amazing to me that something that is usually considered as benign as poetry can be used in an activist manner. Over the centuries people believed poetry was quiet, benign, artistic and eccentric. I’m learning about literary history. And I have found out to my surprise that poetry has been one of the motivating factors in our history.
DH: Any favorite poets?
RP: When I was a young girl it was Robert Frost. I love Frost, and I loved the stories he told through his poetry. My parents used to read Robert Frost to me. Later poetry had gone by the wayside in my life but now I have come back to it.
DH: Can you tell me about the 100,000 Poets for Change event that you are involved with?
RP: On Sept. 29, 2012 there will be over 600 events and readings across the country that will be broadcast over the internet. The events will be taking place at many times throughout the day. It’s going to be bigger than last year’s event. The reading in Boston will be in the mezzanine of the Boston Public Library from 1PM to 3PM—and will be open to the public. Featured poets will be R Jeffreys, January O’Neil, Charles Coe, Harris Gardner, Doug Holder, Sam Cornish and Philip Robinson.
DH: You are the producer of the popular Blogtalk radio show the Write Step hosted by R Jeffreys. Tell me about the show and your duties.
RP: The show presents interviews with poets, artists, writers, and musicians. We discuss what it takes to write what they write. We cover their upcoming books, albums, etc… We explore their own personal process through their creative work. We ask questions like: What does it take for you to create?
DH: How do you find your guests?
RP: R Jeffreys has an intricate network of friends. Some people come to us. Others we contact when we hear a new book is coming out.
DH: You are a Master Pastry Chef. That is very creative. How did you get involved with this?
RP: It started when someone dared me. Originally I was doing cooking at home. So someone said I should take the course and see if I could promote myself. My father who was a salesman, and traveled the world, told me he had a friend in France who would take me on as an apprentice. My two kids went with me. It was a great experience. I was in Paris every weekend. I was told to stay in France because America was not a good place for a pastry chef, especially for a woman. I didn’t know how right this was. When I came back I couldn’t get a job because I didn’t have experience—it was a man-driven business.
DH: Can you make parallels between being a chef, and writing?
RP: Both start out with a summation. Writing consists of these questions: what is the story going to be about?—how am I am I going to break the story down?—what are the main characters, etc.?… You do the same thing when you build a cake—when you are going to build a reputation. You go from scratch. The story and the cake have a foundation layer—so you are writing a cake in a sense.
DH: You are working on a memoir Living Beyond Cancer: Not Just Surviving. Tell us about this.
RP: In Feb. 2012 I was diagnosed with cancer. I am a middle-aged, single mom-who without work would not have health insurance, and without insurance there would be no treatment. I wrote this book which is essentially about compartmentalization. I took out the unnecessary from my life so not only could I survive physically and financially, but I could live. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed with debt. I worked throughout my treatment. I never missed a scheduled day of work. I was able to physically and mentally compartmentalize.
….. For the 100,000 Poets For Change event go to: http://100tpfcma.weebly.com/performing-poets.html