Brimming with energy, joy and a non-stop stream of anecdotes, local sports poet Frank Pavlick’s creative mind is always coming up with new writing ventures.
Author of 14 books with titles including Football Tackle Tales, Golfing is Fun, Curling on the Rocks and Crowd-pleasing Hockey Poems, Pavlick delights in utilizing poetry as a means of expressing his passion for the sporting world. He worked as the official sports poet for the Edmonton-based John Short Show for 25 years, and here in Red Deer with CKGY for 20 years. “I’ve been out there.”
But there’s more to this man than an avid interest in sports. He’s also a powerhouse of effervescent positivity – Pavlick, 76, is the kind of person who when he’s talking to you makes you feel like you are the only person in the world who matters at that moment.
Little wonder that the Nova Scotia native has met all kinds of fascinating people and has seen his poems appreciated near and far. “People often say that no one likes poetry,” he laughs during a recent chat. “But if it weren’t for poetry, there would never be another song. That’s what I say in schools.”
In fact, when talking to students and hearing what their perceptions about poetry sometimes are, Pavlick will sit down at a piano and show that indeed songs are of course poems set to music. Suddenly, a new outlook on the world of poetry is born.
He certainly has a wealth of experience to draw on for inspiration.
By the time he was 19 he had already returned to Canada as a Korean War veteran, and over the next several decades he became a professional broadcaster, teacher and musician. He spent much time in Europe soaking in the sights and sounds of various cultures.
His love for music and film – and the arts in general — helped propel him into the direction of creating poetry. “I’ve lived such a life as to marvel at my good fortune and ask why me.”
Pavlick and his family, which includes wife Delia and five children, has called Red Deer home for 40 years now. And although he wrote his first book back in 1970, he launched his career as ‘Canada’s Sports Poet’ in 1984. How he came to this new direction followed an annual tradition Pavlick had started many years before.
“On the first of January, I’d sit by the Christmas tree with a nice coffee spiked with Bailey’s, and I’d think and think. I wouldn’t come out from under the tree until I had decided what I was going to do the next year.
“On the first of January in 1984, I got up from by the Christmas tree and said I’ve got it! Everyone said ‘oh no’,” he recalls with a smile. “I said Canada has its first full-time sports poet.”
And so it began in earnest. Poem after poem was penned and Pavlick has really never skipped a beat. His poems cover a range of topical and emotional nuances as well – poignant, insightful, entertaining and comical.
A humourous outlook is always maintained. “I laugh all the time. You will never find me around negative people. I don’t want to be around grumpy people, and if they won’t change then I disappear.”
His own high level of activity also spurs his energetic output. He swims every day. He trains. He also has participated in every Terry Fox Run in Red Deer (that would be 31 runs). In fact, he points to Fox as a key inspiration.
“He’s my number one all-time hero,” he says, adding that he wrote a poem called Imagine Terry and His Mom after he learned of Betty Fox’s recent death. The poem imagines what kind of a joyful and heartfelt reunion Terry and Betty would have in heaven.
It’s that kind of insight into relationships that fuels his work. Pavlick’s work has the ability to brighten one’s day – sports fan or not. He views his work seriously and as a wonderful gift that in some ways has little to do with him. Others have shared in the creative process and his humility reflects his abundant gratitude.
“Tell me what is more important in this world than communication,” he asks.
No doubt he’s a master at it. “I’ll never change the world, but I’ll change some of it.”
For more information about Pavlick’s books, email him at email@example.com.