with Ryan Flett:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Ryan: I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, but I didn’t take up poetry until a few years ago, well into my 30’s. I used to read a lot of science fiction and really liked authors like David Brin and Arthur C Clarke. Some years back I decided that when it came to my reading I needed to branch out into different genres and came upon a book of poetry by Charles Wright that I absolutely fell in love with.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Ryan: I would say Mary Oliver. Her voice and her insights into nature and our place in it are stunning. I’d be delighted if someday I could be even one tenth the poet she was. I think Tom Hennen is a phenomenal and tragically overlooked poet.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?
Ryan: I grew up (and still reside in) the Pacific Northwest. I grew up really close to nature, and I spent my youth camping and backpacking. I currently live in a rural area where I can watch deer from my kitchen table. So there’s always that thread of nature that runs through most of my work, and it’s probably why I feel such an affinity for Oliver and Wright.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?
Ryan: That’s a tough question to answer. I’d like to think that everything I put out there, whether it’s on my blog or on Twitter, is meaningful. This is like asking me to pick a favorite child–I just can’t do it!
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Ryan: I always knew that I wanted to write. But I always imagined it would be novels. In school we’re taught a lot of the classics in units and lessons on poetry, and much of that is unrelatable or inaccessible to an adolescent, so I think we condition people to think of poetry as something unapproachable. If you told me five years ago that I would consider myself a poet I would have laughed. It was only when I was older that I wanted to try something new and branch out and saw that there’s a lot of wisdom in poetry. I really started shifting gears with my writing when I finally realized that you can tell a complete story in a poem, and it’s often more impactful than any novel.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Ryan: I really love animals and I try to spend as much time as possible with mine (we have dogs, rabbits, and a parrot). I’ve really taken an interest in gardening recently. I also am an amateur computer programmer and make apps and videogames.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote:
Ryan: I’ve been sitting on a collection of poems for over a year now. I don’t know if I’ll ever publish them. But if I do you’ll be the first to know! (Ryan will have some of his poetry published in Fevers of the Mind Poetry Digest Issue 5 in August)
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Ryan: One of my favorite poems is a short one by Charles Wright entitled “Whatever Happened to Al Lee?” that goes:
What happened is what happens to all of us: we walked
On the earth, we threw a couple of handfuls of dirt
Into the air, and when it came down it covered us.
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Ryan: I’ve always thought of writing as a rather solitary endeavor, and I’m not particularly keen on workshopping things. I’d say ultimately the support of my family and girlfriend has really encouraged me to keep writing. And certainly the poetry community of Twitter has been fabulous.