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Remembering Peter Makuck

Friday from the Archives: “The Poet and The Sea”: an Interview with Peter Makuck by Gary Ettari from NCLR 16 (2007).

We remember and give thanks for our dear friend Peter Makuck, who passed away this week after a long illness. He was a champion for our work and for poetry in North Carolina and beyond. He will be missed.

Thankfully, he contributed many times to NCLR over the years. We have poetry and reviews (both written by Peter or about his work), his interview of founding editor Alex Albright, and this interview he did with Gary Ettari for our “Commemorating 100 years of writers and writing at ECU” feature in 2007.

Makuck had a long career, around the country and world. “Between encouraging young writers and teaching a variety of classes at ECU, Makuck managed to publish six volumes of poetry and two short story collections, an impressive and eclectic output,” Etarri delineates and “In addition to his other accomplishments, he has co-edited a volume of essays on the work of Welsh poet Leslie Norris and spent a year as a Fulbright lecturer in France.” Makuck also served as the second editor of Tar River Poetry, a sister journal at ECU.

“What is required to make the poem viable
is what is not teachable.”

Peter Makuck

Ettari starts the interview off by asking “What has your teaching experience revealed to you about what can and can’t be taught…?” To which Makuck responds, “What you can’t teach is easy: curiosity, motivation, raw material of close observation, imagination, talent, love of language, the sounds of language (not just our own), etc.”

They also discuss his teaching philosophies. When Ettari asks about how he talks to students and their parents about getting a degree in creative writing, Makuck responds, “I’ve had very talented doctors, lawyers, and computer people in my classes and I think you can encourage young writers without promising them they will be able to support themselves as poets or teachers.” He praises his wife for her long-held job with the state revenue department, using the critical thinking and literacy skills she got as an English Lit major.

They also touch on Makuck’s time in coastal Carolina and the inspiration of environment, and Makuck’s forays into short stories. We appreciate having this remembrance of him.

Read the entire interview by ordering the 2007 issue.