Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Kevin Ridgeway

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Kevin Ridgeway

lives and writes in Long Beach, CA. He is the author of six previous chapbooks, including ‘All the Rage’ (Electric Windmill), On the Burning Shore (Arroyo Seco) and Contents Under Pressure (Crisis Chronicles). He is co-author of the book, A Ludicrous Split (alongside poems by Gabriel Ricard, Alien Buddha Press). Recent work has appeared in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Up the River, Plainsongs, San Pedro River Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Main Street Rag, Lummox, Big Hammer, Cultural Weekly, Spillway, Hobo Camp Review and So it Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, among others.


The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

Girls and rock and roll music.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My older brother who studied Shakespeare and other classic poetics in his youth–he left them behind when he went to college and I found a teacher and an inspiration in those books. I also used to think “Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams was a piece of shit and that I could do better. I was wrong, but here I am twenty years later releasing the poems I write these days out into the loud and scary world we live in, where poets are bullied on school campuses and at coffee houses everywhere. And are now grown ups in an assault of words.

3 How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I live in Long Beach, CA, and my poetry elders here are people like Dr. Gerald Locklin, Fred Voss and Joan Jobe Smith–they let themselves be known and heard. I’m fortunate to see these people read their work in person–it’s an inspiring environment to be in.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I get up at 5 every morning to write until 8 each morning. I work on new poems, revisions, correspondences and the management of my submissions out to magazines and journals. And the end of the day–730 pm to midnight–reading and writing until sleep.

5. What motivates you to write?

My monkey brains and the poems of other poets.

6. What is your work ethic?

The harder you work at your craft and the more often that you work at it, the more likely you are to grow and thrive creatively and within the parameters of one’s chosen genre of literary craft. I am known as a prolific writer and I take great pride in that because I work hard to make my words at least work, let alone sing off the page. I consider important to keep practicing for that great gem of a poem or master work few are lucky to ever realize in a revision that’s published, read and remembered by readers. Poems like Red Wheelbarrow

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

They are in my head, always. I absorbed them and they are like angels and demons doing a punishing dance on my shoulders.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

Tony Gloeggler is the best poet around these days, for me as a reader. He writes excellent and gorgeous narrative poetry that has such great realism and brush stroke accurate attention to detail. He writes about his youth in the 60s and 70s in ways that enthrall, surprise and beat the hell out of me. Even his line breaks are the very best–I geek out on line breaks. I dig Dr. Gerald Locklin, Fred Voss, Joan Jobe Smith, Clint Margrave, Bunkong Tuon, Ted Jonathan, Alan Catlin, John Dorsey, Daniel Crocker, Rebecca Schumejda, Wendy Rainey, Curtis Hayes, Bill Gainer, William Taylor,Jr., Steve Henn, Francesca Bell and Alexis Rhone Fancher, to name just a few.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

Writing is easier than painting, which I am terrible at even attempting. My doodles are good. I’m better off typing or with a pen in my hand. Not much else.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

You don’t. You’re born one. Even if it lies dormant in you, you are born one. I was born to be a writer.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

Right now the hot thing on my street corner is the forthcoming publication of my debut full length book of poetry “Too Young to Know” from the great Stubborn Mule Press. It involves poems about my origins, some of my struggles and lots and lots of death thrown in for good measure. It adheres to Frank Zappa’s theory of conceptual continuity, which is important to me. I look forward to promoting it.

I have published nine chapbooks over the years. A Ludicrous Split (2018, a split with Gabriel Ricard, Alien Buddha Press) and Smile Until You’re Alive Enough to Be Dead (2018, Analog Submission Press, UK) are my two latest and greatest.

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