by bl pawelek
In ten words (no more, no less), describe Aquarium.
RB: The bastard product of your favorite poems’ trysts with troublemakers.
Five Questions Here
RB: Well, before there was a poem called “Aquarium” there was a photo I took of an Aquarium sign on the boardwalk in Seaside, OR. I always liked the look of it. When I wrote the poem “Aquarium” I knew that it would be the title poem of a chapbook. It just fit.
2. What is the biggest challenge designing books?
RB: Designing a book is like trying to reconcile your music collection with another person’s. There’s going to be some overlap, but there’s also going to be areas where there’s no way you can understand where they are coming from. Like if they have a Brooks & Dunn album or something. There are moments where you’ll think “should I be trying to share music with this person?” But if you do it right you can work in that overlapping area and come up with something awesome. Of course, the ideal is someone who hands you a blank iPod and says, “fill this for me.”
3. Can’t show? Then tell – what is happening outside?
RB: “Everywhere I Look is Pornography” was written on a day when, honestly, I was having a bipolar upswing. Everything felt good that day. At the time I was still managing a children’s bookstore and it was summer, people outside were enjoying that, and I tried to write something that encapsulated the difference for me, going from a valley to a peak.
4. What is the shortest poem you’ve ever written?
RB: They are in this chapbook, I think. There have been a few that land at three lines. I don’t intentionally write short poems, I think they are a result of my sense of humor coming out.
5. The next part in the story of the outsider is what?
RB: Chances are a lot of trying to fit in. A lot of time spent with a group of friends, but not knowing quite how to feel comfortable in the clique, even though he’s there.
Five Questions There
6. How are women like butterflies?
RB: They are both inherently beautiful in their forms, their movements. There’s no such thing as an ugly butterfly, same goes for women.
RB: When you grow up in a place like Alaska falling through ice is definitely a very real fear. If you don’t know someone personally or indirectly who has a story about it you’ll see one in the paper or the news often enough to feel like you do. Other fears, I think, are more esoteric. Things like failure.
8. Tell me a Beatles song you would dance to?
RB: Oh, jeez, any Beatles song. I love the Beatles. I can’t even fully explain. Some favorites: “Across the Universe,” “The Word,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” But really, any Beatles song will do.
9. Name another disorder that will affect you as winter creeps near.
RB: I actually feel a lot better about winter than summer. I like cold weather, I pray for snow. I really don’t have any sort of seasonal disorders (other than being categorically opposed to summer). My mental conditions are more of a year long project.
10. Other than footprints on carpet, tell me your God proof.
RB: I was raised to believe in God, though it was outside of the Christian tradition. I still have questions, I’m somewhere between a believer and an agnostic, depending on the day. On the days when I’m feeling more inclined to believe my best proof is my wife’s existence and the fact that she is in love with me, which I know is anything but easy.
In ten words (no more, no less), tell me about what you are working on now.
RB: Ill-advised novel. Manuscript multitudes. Literary day dreaming. General awesomeness.
Ryan Bradley, Aquarium, 2010. Thunderclap Press.
bl pawelek, Ten Everywhere.