Michael Diebert Bio
From Writer to Poet
|Photograph by Benjamin Yoder|
Diebert had a couple of dreams growing up. First, in elementary school he wanted to be a weather man. Years later in early high school, he wanted to be a DJ. Despite these slight detours throughout his life, Diebert has always had a vague idea of what he wanted to do. "I always thought I was good at writing and I envisioned myself doing something with it." Occasionally, he would dip into the creative side as many do, but when he approached college he instead pursued journalism as his major. However, over time he found that journalism wasn't where his passion was. “I quickly saw myself becoming Geraldo Rivera. I didn't want to be one of those guys on TV shoving the microphone in people's faces. I really questioned how much I wanted to do that.” With journalism pushed aside, he instead opted for an English degree. He went on to earn his bachelor's in English at the University of Tennessee and his master's in English at the University of Alabama.
Oddly enough, his pursuit of his master's in English didn't exactly trigger his creative writing juices. His writing in graduate school was essentially restricted to class assignments. Occasionally he would dip into creative writing, but it wouldn't be until he was hired for a teaching job in Hopkinsville Kentucky that he would redirect his writing lifestyle.
In 1996, Diebert met a man name Brett Ralph, a fellow teacher at Hopkins Community College hired the same semester as himself. Diebert describes Ralph as a larger-than-life character as he was a former football player, had fronted rock bands in high school and was overall a “good vibes” kind of person. These aspects drew Diebert to him, but more importantly Ralph was a fellow poet. Diebert, wanting to re-kindle the act of writing poetry, looked towards Ralph's concepts and ideas. “He believed in hard work over inspiration; he gave me good advice for cutting the bullshit from my poems; he introduced me to complex, challenging poets such as Frank Stanford and Larry Levis. He expanded my horizons; he would deny it if I ever told him, but it's true.”
In 1997, Diebert had his first poem published, titled “Empire State.” He described the feeling of getting his poem published simply as a feeling of “elation.” Diebert would leave Hopkins Community College in 1999, but didn't leave behind what he learned from Ralph. “He was, and still is, a big deal to me.”
After a year and a half dance with technical writing after his position at Hopkins Community College, Diebert re-entered the teaching scene at Georgia Perimeter College where he remains today. Outside of teaching classes, he is the poetry editor for the GPC affiliated Chattahoochee Review. He also still continues to write poetry. A fellow poet and friend, Rupert Fike met Diebert 10 years ago at a poetry workshop. “Diebert writes of his boyhood and family times, it seems like he had sort of a distant father but he shows a fondness for those times,” said Fike. “He also writes of his own professors and how he and others made fun of them, though he sees how he's now in a similar position.”
Diebert affirms he is happy at his position at Georgia Perimeter College and the Chattahoochee Review, which are jobs that give him flexibility to continue working on poetry. As for what's in his future, currently he has a 60 page manuscript that he is shopping around to publishers. "I would love 100,000 copies of my first book to be sold. That's the perfect world, of course. A fantasy,” he jokes. However, actually getting his book published is a goal of his, as well as continuing to be active in the poetry community and being able to balance his teaching life with poetry for the years to come.
Diebert doesn't write poetry specifically for money. If anything, he reassures that there is virtually no money in writing poetry. His continued pursuit of the medium proves that it is much more than that to him. “I've seen him hand write the same poem over and over again to get it just right,” accounted Gregg Murray, fellow teacher who met Diebert through work at the Chattahoochee Review. “He is clever, has a great ear for verse, and always surprises the reader in his poems.”
Web Source: Michael Diebert's LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-diebert/13/9a6/527)