Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Ryan Russell

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.

Ryan

Ryan Russell

is a professional football player in the NFL, a published poet, author, and artist. He began writing around the age of seven when he lost his stepfather in a motorcycle accident. He then realized just how little his biological father was truly in his life. Ryan’s mother relocated him from Buffalo, New York to Dallas, Texas where Ryan then fell in love with football. Though his love for football was well known and well celebrated he kept embracing, improving, and exploring his first love of writing. Ryan graduated from the prestigious Purdue University and was drafted to the Dallas Cowboys. He saw most of his success with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is excited to apply the same handwork and dedication to his writing.

The Interview

What inspired you  to write poetry?

Growing up I lost my stepfather at a very young age. I spent a lot of time alone as my mother worked two jobs, and went to school to provide for me. Poetry was a way that I could introspect on everything I was feeling and going through. Writing poetry also brought things to life I didn’t quite understand yet myself. It was a conversation between my emotions and my conscious mind when conversation was limited.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My first introduction to poetry was Maya Angelou and Tupac. Maya Angelou was the nurturing and maternal figure I had grown accustomed too. She was warm and lyrical poetry, with style and confidence I had seen from the powerful women who raised me. Tupac was a well known figure in hip-hop and someone who I looked up to as a young black man who stood for something. When I read his poetry book, “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” it was validation that poetry was not just writing by women but by men as well. I felt as though I had found my poetic family within the pages of those I admired.

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

I learned about William Shakespeare in school and though he seemed to write about a time that was way beyond me he talked about a lot of the same things that were plaguing me. Outside of school I gravitated towards the work of Edgar Allan Poe. His world looked very similar to mine, riddled with depression, darkness, and shadows that followed romantic idiom and mystery.  Sylvia Plath, though her life was short, her writing was very impactful on me and my writing. Death and despair are topics that often times inspired me to write and Sylvia had no problems exploring that world in vivid detail.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Every good day of writing starts with a good morning run and a good cup of coffee. I like to wake up and workout a bit, getting a sweat helps clear my mind. Also I wake up feeling accomplished and anything I do form there on out is added accomplishments. Also when I exercise my physical muscles I find it easier to exercise my mental and creative muscles. Depending on the project I have going on, depends on the word count goal I set for the day. I also keep multiple projects going on so if I find myself uninspired to write one, I can work on another. I aim for around 2000 words a day.

5. What motivates you to write?

I write for my own sanity, and along with that comes the freedom of vulnerability. Being vulnerable and transparent is a powerful way to connect to humans on a deeper level than usual.

6. What is your work ethic?

Being a professional football player I’m used to early morning and late nights. I love waking up before the rising sun, brewing a pot of coffee, and cranking out wordplay and metaphor. Also If inspiration strikes me late at night I don’t mind pulling out a pen and pad to jot it down. Often times writing has woken me up out of my sleep and I’ve written at length.

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

Honestly they just gave me promotion to be myself, to be honest and vulnerable in my writing. Vulnerability isn’t highly valued on the list of traits to teach young boys but it’s essential to human connection. My influences in literary growing up didn’t worry about how “manly” a piece seemed. They wrote it because it was their truth.

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

I would have to give a shoutout to my mentor, friend, and now publisher, Christopher Poindexter. He has been a contemporary poet who has been so influential to me in blurring the lines between poetry and confession. Also his writing bends the themes of masculinity and femininity all while being powerful beyond compare. He’s amassed a huge following sharing his writing on Instagram and discovered me and published my work.

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

I write to heal, to be my truest self, to help someone going through what I’ve been to. I write to exist in a sense. Throughout the day we do things to fill our bank accounts, we eat to fill our souls, we abuse substances to fill our times, but writing is one of few things I can do everyday that fill may soul. I write therefor I am.

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

I don’t think you really become a writer, I think one day you just become brave enough to let the world know you are a writer.

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

I always have my hand in a bunch of different pots. I’ve written articles for major magazine publications but right now I’m focusing on my own personal works. I’m writing a series of short stories that tackle toxic masculinity and also mental health awareness for men. I am working on a murder mystery for my own entertainment but that has turned in to something I think I would love on the desk of a publisher. I am working on my second poetry book, as requested by my publisher. The themes of the poetry book center around all the lessons I was taught as a young man that I have now debunked as a young man.

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