Interview with Maria Martinez for Chicago Women in Publishing “Clips” newsletter; Nov/Dec 2012 issue:
TITLE of ARTICLE: Unmask to Live!
That’s the advice that Paul Kachoris, M.D. has for us. He did it through the poems that he started writing in the 8th grade, encouraged by his teacher, Miss Neal. Recently he compiled 165 of his poems and self-published them in his new book Unmasked. Poetry of Self-Expression.
In his book, Dr.Kachoris has given voice to his deeply felt feelings, thoughts and dreams. His poetry is always inspired by the impact of significant events in his life. Paul has chronologically placed each of his poems under one of nine facets; each facet representing one specific affective theme.
I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Kachoris for Clips to learn more about his writing process, what this book means for him and what he hopes his readers will find by reading his book of poetry.
MM: Why did you choose poetry as a form of creative expression?
PK: It was easy for me to be very pithy with the fewest amounts of words; to be able to play with the words in the two languages I knew, Greek and English. I had a “feeling” of both languages that allowed me to contrast them. I could play with words as if they were multiple colored paints on my artistic pallet. I could pick words that captured my feelings and affects and that allowed me to express my thoughts succinctly in poetic rhythm. Words provided a kind of musicality in constructing my poems.
MM: Did your profession of psychiatry influence this choice of expression?
PK: No. It was actually the other way around. My poetry gave me a way of expressing all that I have learned and experienced through the years of being a psychiatrist. Poetry became a vehicle to express the humanistic “truths” I have learned from my patients and from my own self. Poetry for me was therapeutic. It allowed me to have a microphone to connect with the world.
MM: Why did you choose the masks theme for the book?
PK: It was a sudden inspiration. I was trying to decide how to organize all my poetry while sitting at my desk and watching my collection of 25 masks from around the world, each with a specific meaning. It was a eureka moment when it hit me that I could place my poems under the human affect or emotion that each mask could represent.
MM: Which mask is your favorite?
PK: Hmmm…well the first one that jumped out to me was Dionysius, Facet 7 in the book. He is the Greek god of ecstasy and abandonment who allows us to transform and to embrace all parts of our vibrant humanity. The mask of Agape, Facet 9 in the book, is also vital since it heralds the culmination of my travels through all the previous facets– my very slow and arduous personal evolution: from fear to love/Agape.
MM: How did you select the poems that make up the book?
PK: I read all them again and as I did this, I could see what poems had been tested by time as well as the ones that struck me as still emotionally powerful. Those were the ones I kept.
MM: What do you hope a reader will find in your book of poems?
PK: Their own humanity, their own emotional self and vulnerability, their own bravery and courage; to know that we struggle with all of these facets, affects and emotions; to not be afraid of their own contradictions but to embrace them. From this act comes freedom and liberation. To Unmask to Live!
MM: You self-published the book. Why did you choose this path?
PK: I wanted to be able to create my own book of poetry for myself without having to be “approved of” by anyone. I wanted the freedom and autonomy to do this book myself. It was exhilarating to launch my own work as I saw fit.
MM: How did you find the self-publishing process?
PK: The best part was having the complete freedom to design and create one’s work. I liked the many tools that the self-publishing company has to assist one in the creation of their book. I was lucky to have my daughter-in-law and son to help me collate and construct the manuscript. The most difficult aspect was to do all the work via the publisher’s web site without any live interchange to find answers and solutions to problems.
MM: Any tips for aspiring poetry writers or writers in general?
PK: Probably to have perseverance and deep belief in what one wants to create. To stick to their own inner vision; whether their creation will be a success or not is really insignificant to the feelings of accomplishment and the birthing of one’s creation. Just do it.
About the Author:
Paul J. Kachoris, M.D. is triple board certified in pediatrics, child, adolescent and adult psychiatry in the “original” practice of psychiatry: treating the whole person with both psychotherapy for the psyche and with psychotropic medications for the brain as needed. Dr. Kachoris has been in continuous clinical psychiatric practice for forty years. He has held multiple clinical, educational, academic and administrative positions in both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric settings. Presently he is devoting himself to his outpatient psychiatric practice and pursuing his many interests in poetry, the humanities, neuroscience, men’s studies and leading men’s retreats. His poem Papa’s Old, Black, Leather Suitcase was the winner of the 3rd Honorable Mention, Experimental Poem, Poet & Patrons 51st Annual, at the Chicagoland Poetry Contest in 2007. For more information visit www.paulkachoris.com
Unmasked. Poetry of Self-Expression by Paul J. Kachoris, M.D. is available at: www.amazon.com and www.lulu.com
Self-published, 2012; ISBN: 978-1-300-08645-1
Maria Martinez is an independent marketing-branding, writer, and editorial contractor with over 25 years of experience in retail, financial services and publishing. Maria is part of the Executive Committee of CWIP’s Board. She is the author of Cuban Stories, a memoir.