134. Matthew Gavin Frank – Passion, Travel, Diamond Smuggling & The Writing Life

All people have passion and curiosity, but Matthew Gavin Frank is notable for pushing these to the point of obsession – a creative, productive, compelling obsession.  He is the author of Preparing the Ghost and Flight of the Diamond Smugglers, among other works, and is a creative writing professor in the MFA program at Northern Michigan University.  Matthew’s work has appeared widely in journals and magazines around the world.  His writing has a personal tone to it, and it reflects Matthew’s own navigation of such influences on his life as travel, food, and even personal grief.  

Matthew Gavin Frank’s life has been filled with remarkable experiences.  He has lived in Alaska, worked as a sommelier and grape harvester in Italy, spent time on the orange farm in South Africa where his wife is from, lived out of a Coleman Cimmaron in New Mexico, and held dozens of different jobs.  He’s an accomplished cook and a travel addict, has learned through the past two decades how to live well in close relationship with another person, and is committed to fixating on and losing himself in all aspects of life – the simple, the complex, and the mystifying. 

I have been fascinated reading Matthew’s work and learning about his life and am excited for him to share about everything from the story behind his latest book, to his interest in birds, to the way he thinks about the world and living well in it.  This episode, in its breadth and manner of weaving through thoughts and ideas, also represents an exploration of my own creativity. I hope it will inspire and motivate those who hear to put their own creativity to work. 

“Life is about making a mess.” – Matthew Gavin Frank

This week on The School for Good Living Podcast:

  • What it might look like to put your creativity to work
  • Why Matthew thinks life is about making a mess and like an unlocked envelope
  • The reasons for Matthew’s high esteem of a very cold climate
  • Matthew’s advice to not skip breakfast and practice of writing on barf bags
  • When traveling, say yes to everything and pack rain gear
  • How bewilderment can help a marriage, and the need for engaging the affirmative
  • A sugar packet can change a life, and cold water can force a cry
  • Why Matthew doesn’t think making a career of a passion is necessarily a good idea
  • Why travel, exposure to diverse voices, and art are important
  • Why using money for experience is to be preferred overusing for material things
  • How Matthew’s writing process is like walking through a meadow
  • Questing after something is more compelling than the presumption of certainty
  • How grief spurred Matthew’s interest in carrier pigeons and diamond smuggling
  • Why Matthew isn’t sure what to call himself
  • Unexpected facts and words from his recent project, and how grief is beautifully small
  • Why Matthew is impressed by nuanced levels of human ingenuity bordering on desperation
  • How Matthew would advise people on writing a book or completing a creative project

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with Matthew Gavin Frank:

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