with R.M. Engelhardt
- When did you start writing and first influences and biggest influences currently?
I grew up with a reading problem. So from a very young age I was put in “special reading classes” which ironically made me a voracious reader later who overcompensated by my love for Stephen King books and LOTR. I started writing about the age of 14 because I hurt my knee playing football and they kept me out of gym class. I kept a notebook and was heavily influenced by stories from comic books, Greek myths, pulp fiction Bantam novels and Jim Morrison & The Doors. And after reading his biography ” Nobody Gets Out of Here Alive” was eventually led down the path to Rimbaud, Blake and many other poets. Over the years my writing form & style has changed up alot and has become more at peace with itself. These days I am more influenced, interested more in mysticism & life events which alter my work more than anything else.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
A part of me wanted to be a journalist in high school. Who also wanted to be a rock station DJ and a novelist as well as the lead singer in a band and a doctor. But after exploring all those avenues it was poetry that came to me which I sent out to zines in the early 1990s and that got published. So after having a poem published next to a drawing by Ferlinghetti in 94 in Sure! The Charles Bukowski Newsletter I decided that it’s what I wanted to do. Write.
Q3: Who has helped you most with writing?
Other, older poets whom I’ve met over the years with words of advice. Writers I’ve met briefly like Jim Harrison as well as feedback from writer friends who have been editors. One primarily? An indie bookstore owner named Bill Nelson. But mostly? Inspiration and moments that have just come to me from many places have guided my voice & work in it’s own direction. To it’s own place.
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?
I grew up in a suburban blue collar part of Albany NY called Colonie where in high school you were either a jock, a musician or an honor student. I was just a very quiet kid who liked to read 800 page books in the library. I did have some great English teachers though who encouraged me. I suppose that trips to Boston, NYC & especially Salem, road trips truly inspired me in many ways.
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?
In my some 30 years as a writer I’ve put out over 18 or so books and in that time I’ve written everything from bar poems to Buddha. The poems/books that I personally look back on were the ones that literally came to me from nowhere. My books like ” DarkLands” ” Logos” & ” We Rise Like Smoke”, even ” The Resurrection Waltz” all had one similar factor in common. Loss. Probably the most devestating and yet most powerful instigator of writing.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Not many. Writing is actually one of my forms of relaxation. That and reading.
Q7: What is a favorite line/stanza from a writing of yours or others? Or share a link to a favorite artwork or music video.
My own? A quote.
“Remember. Materialism is just another bullshit faith. Poetry is fucking alchemy”
“Pulvis et umbra sumus”
“We are all but dust and shadows”
Q8: What kind of music do you enjoy? Favorite musical artists, influences, songs that inspire.
I still listen to alot of what I consider my older core bands. ( Like The Doors, Joy Division) But I still love music by The Swans, Interpol, Type O Negative, The Church, Bauhaus, Dead Can Dance, Dax Riggs, 1920s Blues, Robert Johnson, John Coltrane. Celtic music, David Bowie. There’s inspiration in all of them.
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
My new book is ” We Rise Like Smoke, Poems Psalms & Incantations” which is available on Amazon right now and I’ve started a new open mic for poets here in Albany NY called “Invocation of The Muse”
On the side I’m also the Editor of DeadMansPressInk which is a small independent poetry press that publishes new & old poets alike. I love reading other poets work and creating spaces where they can share it.
Bonus Question: Are there any funny memories that you can recall during your writing journey or creative journey?
There’s a few. Years ago I met and smoked cigarettes with Jim Harrison during an intermission. He was hilarious. Met a very very drunk Jim Carroll ( who I argued with) RIP. And did a shot of tequila with Anne Waldman at a party. That just about covers it. The journey still continues. There are more shots with poets left to do.
1st person Bio:
My name is R.M. Engelhardt and I’m inquiring about being a featured interview, featured poet in Fevers of The Mind. I’ve been on and a part of the Albany NY poetry scene for almost 30 years now running open mics for poetry, doing benefits etc and I’ve been published in over 400 journals & zines (Paper & Internet).
I’m the original founder of the group Albany Poets and I am currently the editor of a small independent poetry press called “Dead Man’s Press ink” and also I now host a brand new open mic for all poets & writers here in Albany called “Invocation of The Muse” at The Fuze Box on the 1st Monday Evening of each month. “We Rise Like Smoke Poems Psalms Incantations” is my new book of work Published by DeadMansPressInk (2021) which I am currently promoting. I also run a group on Facebook called The Central Muse Division.
Wolfpack Contributor: R.M. Engelhardt
Good interview. It’s nice to hear a success story from trouble reading as a kid to accomplished poet as an adult.