Before each Waterline Writers event we conduct a short interview with each of our featured writers. This month Frank Rutledge shares information with us about his background, method and inspiration.
How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?
From first grade on I was in love with the alphabet. Interesting fact: I was able to recite the alphabet backwards. Reading vicariously came next. Magazines, books and cereal boxes were the sources but if you stood still long enough I would read your mind. To this very day I love reading. Writers are first readers. Also, from a young age I easily grew bored. Nothing seemed to interest me. Until Sophomore year HS and I discovered The Illustrated Man and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. The world exploded with wonder and awe for me, all was alive and connected. Even now, curiosity and wonder, delight and awe are my best attributes. I had an English teacher in HS that forced his students to purchase his little book of poems. Challenging him, I said I could do better. He said do it and I did. There is little I am more passionate about in life than poetry. Its reading and writing is my life blood. At my life’s end, park me at a window with a view of a willow tree and river in the Rest Home of Metaphor & Simile and off I’ll go into the great beyond of imagery. (Poets love sex and death. I got that death thing covered.)
Describe your writing process.
I am staunchly a morning person. I will never be accused of wasting a sunrise. I want to write when my head is still steeped in that soup of dreamy mists from the night before. Revision is a night activity for me. After a long day of my mind’s heavy lifting my creativity craves rest. Nighttime is for lovemaking and movie watching and damn I’ve seen a lot of movies. I can write anywhere, quiet or a room filled with the chatter of undecipherable nonsense of everyday details. A coffeehouses is my Avalon of choice. Shout out to Limestone Coffee and Tea in Batavia. I prefer to write on a laptop but the slow crawl of handwriting will do if need be. I usually start with a title or a line. That first line of any writing is your introduction and calling card for the piece and for the author. I don’t plan out a poem like say a novelist. I desire the hunt and treasure the surprise destination of the journey. If as a poet, I’m not surprised, then why would you the reader be? I don’t write daily but would like to (this is where my dream of a patron comes in). Writer’s block is for beginners and the lazy. Your life has ideas swirling around its orbit. Not only your life but this ever renewing world of fascination is rich in material. Trick is: all you have to do is show up and pay close attention. There is a miraculous path under each of your footsteps. Tread gentle, delight lives here.
What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?
Fairy dust and Muse spittle. In this group of poems I will share my way of discovering the meanings in my life events. Understanding through questions and awareness. Some of my poems question reality. The poems wonder out loud about the fiction we tell ourselves, the story in our heads that shape our identities. Our fantasies and desires tell us so much about our inner life. Just like dreams when you’re asleep, poems can be deeply revealing. Poems can speak the unsayable that lives within us all. And then that leaves us poets with humor, sex and death. It’s all starting to make sense now, isn’t it?
What are you working on now?
Like the expanding universe I want my orbits and gravity, skills and experience to continue to enlarge. I want growth in my being and art. Life is about growth, Stagnation is death. (Says the poet.) I am a project person. I think in poetry collections. Creating books is my joy. Reissuing a couple of chapbooks. The hope is to have a brand new collection out soon. I will constantly be writing and sending out my work for publication. Spend more time learning from my extremely talented poet friends in Open Sky Poets. Looking forward to hosting Harmonious Howl at Graham’s 318 this summer season. Meet more of you attendees and authors at Waterline Writers, where I volunteer. Anticipating all the fresh voices submitting to Fewerthan500.com. (Flash Fiction, yo!!!) I will be absolutely enjoying Jen May’s “Armchair Locomotion” and “Battle Cry” debut collections of poetry. I may even do a few Poetry Workshops/Idea Harvesting this summer and autumn. So stay tuned, yo!!! (Sorry, my inner Nelly again.)