Getting to Know: Dr. Keith Kopka

KOPKA KEITH webKeith Kopka, PhD brings his love for prose and poems to Holy Family University as its newest Assistant Professor of English. Dr. Kopka, who specializes in creative writing, sat down with Holy Family University to discuss his favorite authors, his passion for the written word, and his love of music.

HFU: Can you tell us more about your background and how you came to Holy Family University?

KK: “I came to Holy Family from Tallahassee, Florida where I had been living and working for the last eight years. Most recently, I was working in the creative writing program at Florida State University as an instructor and the Managing Director of the program. However, I was looking to make a change, and when I found Holy Family, I instantly responded to the HFU community and the way that it is built around a mission that truly serves its students. When I was lucky enough to be presented with an opportunity to join that community, I jumped at it.”

HFU: Throughout all your degrees, you’ve focused on creative writing and poetry. What sparked your interest in this specific field?

KK: “I have been interested in creative writing from a very young age. As a high school student, I was constantly writing. English was a pretty easy choice to focus on academically because I loved reading, writing, and music. Math and science were definitely not my forte! I grew up in Providence, RI where there is a great art scene. I went to many shows, and I started writing and playing my own music in high school. There were also a lot of poetry events at the same places that I was seeing bands, and, after I attended a few of these, I realized that there isn’t a huge gap between writing song lyrics and writing poetry. However, I find that they provide completely different types of catharsis and artistic satisfaction. Either way, I tried my hand at writing poetry, and I never stopped.”

HFU: Who are some of your favorite poets and what do you enjoy most about their work?

KK: “I’m a huge fan of so many poets. However, the first people that come to mind are Robert Hass, Erin Belieu, Adrian Matejka, Josh Bell, Mark Bibbins, and Cate Marvin. Still, there are so many others that I know that I’m leaving out. It is hard to make a blanket statement about what I enjoy most about the work of these vastly different voices. However, I can say that I typically value impeccable craft, risks with form and content, strong images, and clarity of voice when I am reading poetry.”

HFU: Have you had any published works that we might have heard about?

KK: “This is a funny question because the joke in the poetry writing community is that there is no such thing as a famous poet. Unfortunately, poetry doesn’t have too much of a wide readership outside of academia. This is especially true in America where it seems like poets are often writing for an audience of other poets. All of this curmudgeonly throat clearing aside, I have been published in a variety of places, both online and in print, and in this wondrous, digital age most of my work is just a short Google search away.”

HFU: Do you have any hobbies you like to do for fun outside of Holy Family?

KK: “Yes, I have lots of hobbies. I play music (guitar and bass). As I mentioned, I used to play in a lot of bands back in the day. I also still spend time going to concerts. I’m a rabid music fan, and I’m always on the lookout for a new band or artist to check out. I also love relaxing outdoors, especially at the beach. I grew up in the Ocean State, so surfing and kayaking have always been a big part of my life.”