In our effort to give you the face behind the author and the person behind the author, let us introduce you to Ruth Sabath Rosenthal. We had a chance to get some quick answers from poet Ruth about her work. This is not a full-fledged interview, but rather a sketch of a poet in motion. Ruth has had many poems published widely over the past decade, and her first chapbook, “Facing Home” has just been published by Finishing Line Press.
* On Beginning.
I first considered myself a writer when I purchased my first computer and learned the basics of Microsoft Word, followed by my signing up for a poetry class at the 92nd Street Y in NYC and the rest is history. This was in the year 2000.
I think my true inspiration came from the fact that, although my mother was not a lover of poetry to the point of reading it or keeping it around the house, she did however make it known that she loved one poem “Abou Ben Adhem” by Leigh Hunt. I must have heard her recite it or she showed it to me. That was the only connection to poetry either she or I had, and that was 40 years or so before I started writing and studying poetry. [Ruth also tells us that she gets inspiration from her dog, Sweetie-Pie, pictured here.]
* On Ideas.
My ideas come from life experience—mine and those around me and those in the world at large—the joy, the suffering, the humor and optimism.
* Where a Good Poem Comes From.
I believe that a good poem comes from truth, whatever that truth is—ugly or pretty, sad or happy, serious or funny, and even if that truth is bent to protect someone.
* Concerning Messages in Writing.
I’d like my readers to come away with, after reading my poems, a feeling of being familiar with me, of having shared in an experience that touches them and feels like what they’ve also at one time or another, on some level, experienced. I’d like them to laugh, shed a tear or two, maybe even read one of my poems more than once.
* Realism in Poetry.
My writing is truly rooted in realism, although I bend the truth and often project myself into a situation, as opposed to me revealing my own personal experience and view point. In other words, I’ll write as if I’m someone else—perceiving things as they do or would.
* Surprises in One’s Own Writing.
I surprise myself all the time. I’m often in awe of a poem I’ve finished working on. I don’t mean that to sound immodest, but I often feel that someone’s words are being channeled through me—someone with something profound to say. And I’ve heard other poets say the same thing. It’s a fantastic experience when it happens. And usually the poem comes fast and needs very little revision.
* Personal Favorites.
I have so many favorite poems I’ve written, but among them are those I regret having not kept to myself. I always worry about hurting someone’s feeling or besmirching the memory of someone who’s passed. I’m cognizant of this when I write, and may hold back because of it.
* Working Schedule.
I am blessed that I have a husband who is both supportive financially and who I can bounce poems off of. He has a good ear although he’s not a poet or writer. Being so fortunate, I write whenever I feel like it and seem to go through spurts of productiveness.
* Types of Poems.
Some would call them “confessional” but I don’t like that term. I write some formal poems such a Sestinas, Villanelles, Sonnets, but mostly I write poems that, though in stanzas, are not in form, and their rhymes run throughout the poems, as opposed to end-rhymes.
* Great Influences.
First, I have to say that I don’t read enough. I need to be in a quiet place, both physically and mentally to do that. And when I do read, it’s always out loud, as hearing the words is essential to me. I love the masters like Yeats, Frost, Whitman, Stevens, Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, May Swenson, but then again, I do read today’s poetry from time to time.
* Reading Now.
At present, I’m not reading. But when I start up again, you can be sure I’ll be writing, because I can’t seem to read for more than an hour or so, when suddenly I am compelled to write. I guess I’m easily inspired and quite impressionable.
* Upcoming Projects.
I plan to publish a series of chapbooks and I’m currently finalizing a full-length manuscript, working with a publisher.
* Current Work.
My current work is much like the poems in my chapbook just recently published by Finishing Line Press, titled “Facing Home.” The subject matter of my current poems is not much different than that of the poems I wrote at the beginning of my writing career, back in 2000. What’s changed is my crafting of poems—I’ve learned so much over the years and have honed my craft to the point of having a strong voice and style.
Copyright 2010 by Ruth Sabath Rosenthal