TMR: What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
Richard Weaver: My best writing has always come out of the tip of a pen. Not always black ink; sometimes blue. More often than not a Uniball finepoint, but sometimes a medium pulls doves out of the air. I travel with 6-8 in my writing bag which holds my Chromebook, 3-5 books, not always poetry, a folder of things to be rewritten, an 8 ½ x 11” 100 sheet yellow legal pad. (50 sheets is self-limiting). I have another well-worn folder of a poem about my father I have been trying to write for decades. One day it will happen. And other folders of other manuscripts in progress. Place and space are important, so I travel with what connects me.
TMR: What is your routine for writing?
RW: I could lie and say that I have sacred, inviolate writing hours – 2 hours in the morning fueled by espressos, and 2 hours in the afternoon, sitting on a balcony in the sun (weather permitting), a glass of sparkling wine going flat nearby, or I have migrated to my reserved space at a pub exactly 481 steps from my front door. Hemingway said you have to put your ass in the chair. (He wrote standing up). I do both. I add music between my ears to block out the world. Bose earbuds and an Ipod with large selections of singer/songwriters, from Joseph Arthur to Warren Zevon, with stops along the way for Van Morrison, Jonatha Brooke, Leonard Cohen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, James McMurtry, & Tom Waits. Sometimes I will read a bit, just to create an atmosphere. Usually I just jump in without warming up. The truth has to be tempered, in this case, with realities: laundry, shopping, house cleaning, paying bills, taking my wife to work, cooking, etc. etc.
TMR: How long have you been writing? When did you start writing? How long?
RW: 427,008 hours ago and counting. My earliest writing dates from High School. I wrote one-act plays heavily influenced by S. J. Perelman (he wrote humor, including several Marx Brothers films) Thurber, Benchley, and H. Allen Smith. These actually still exist, unlike my poems which were always mailed off to my girlfriend who lived 30 miles away. Typical adolescent stuff, except that I sought to write at least one poem in every known style, except an epic.
TMR: Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
RW: For me the audience question has many answers, mostly because I have no one style or approach. My wife, on more than one occasion, has accused me of always writing serious poetry. The kind that when read is somber, sober, purposeful, even reserved. Her confusion comes in knowing me as impulsive, whimsical, and always looking for ways to hear or see things differently. What Groucho once called the euphemism of the ear. Much of my recent poetry indulges in that playfulness. One poem comes to mind: Hi, I’m Margana. Every line including the title has at least one anagram in it. The poem is clearly meant to be read on the page. I doubt that I would ever read it to an audience. It is one of a handful of exceptions. Mostly I write and rewrite for a certain sound quality that is directly linked to the subject at hand. I just finished a MS which uses the dying words of a range of historic figures. The poems are anything but serious. They took on the persona of each person and wrote themselves. In many cases the last line or last words become a serious punch line. They are meant to be heard and enjoyed. They demand an audience.
TMR: What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
RW: A single word can set me off. Or a single poem of Russell Edson can explode into 3 or 5 or 10 furious poems, all untraceably distant and unrelated to what was just read. It’s more of a transfer of energy, an open invitation to follow in someone’s footsteps, but wearing different shoes, or sandals, and without a GPS. James Wright works the same magic. W S Merwin stuns me with almost everything of his I read. Ted Kooser. Gabriella Mistral. Galway K. Simic. And many others can cause my pilot light to burst forth.
TMR: What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
RW: I like to surf-fish, especially for pompano. I am a volunteer for the Maryland Book Bank, and act as the Archivist-at-large for a small Jesuit College founded in 1830.
TMR: What is your favorite part of the creative process?
RW: When the pen surges, and the mind lets go of its hold of the world, and the words empty faster than the hand and ink can flow. And the drained emptiness afterwards. Sounds like good sex, doesn’t it!?
TMR: What is your advice to aspiring writers?
RW: Read. Write. Repeat in that order. Be willing to re-read and re-write. Never think anything is ever “finished.” I write this shortly after the death of Leonard Cohen. A writer who always had to finish a stanza before he could discard it. A man who wrote 80 stanzas and discarded all but 4 for the song Hallelujah.
Check out Richard’s work in the issue, Volume 3, Issue 1.