Ricky Garni is a Carrboro, NC writer who will always keep you guessing. His latest project had a bit of routine though: He wrote a book of poems every month for the past year. Starting in October of 2010, Garni completed a book and pulled a Forrest Gump, instead of running he just kept right on writing. (Something this month’s NaNoWriMo writers can empathize with on a smaller scale.)
I introduced Garni as an award-winning writer at Living Poetry’s Poet Local last January, however he quickly corrected me. A four-time Pushcart nominee and a writer with over 270 publishing credits to his name, I assumed he had won an award or twenty over the years. It wasn’t until a month later that he won First Place in the Independent Weekly Poetry Contest. So, yes, Garni is now officially an award-winning poet.
According to one of the Indy judges, Chris Tonelli, about Garni’s winning poem:
“This poem reminds me more of Gertrude Stein’s portraits and their language-based repetitions, or even of James Tate’s or Russell Edson’s brand of surrealism, than it does of more narrative works. Which is the genius of the poem really. The fact that it combines all of these elements so intelligently, so entertainingly, is kind of a miracle.”
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200 Words With Poet/Writer Ricky Garni
Write Naked: Writing a book each month is a tremendous amount of pressure, not just in respect to time management, but in quality vs. quantity. How did you decide which poems you would publish and how much time to spend revising in relation to actually writing new poems?
Ricky Garni: I actually don’t feel as though there was any pressure at all. I am not sure if there is really any pressure in the world of poetry, to be honest. I feel as though in order to experience pressure there must be the potential for dire consequence – with poetry, the worst possible scenario is that there will be less of it or product of a lesser quality. Actually, I guess that can be pretty awful. At least to the person who writes it. Who needs more bad stuff cluttering up the literary corn maze?
WN: How are you planning to fill the coming year with your writing? Still focusing on poetry, upping the ante with a book-a-week, taking a sabbatical from writing?
RG: The first thing I will be doing is editing the 12 volumes into one. After that I will edit that volume into a smaller volume of selected lines from the original manuscript (about 800 pages). Mostly though, I would love to start a long term project of observations of places and things. I adore watching the process of people and objects changing or evolving over time, and I always have. I think one of the reasons I do is because I went to the same high school as my dad, and every day at gym I ran past the photographs of the varsity lacrosse teams in chronological order. I could look at the young coach as he evolved year by year until he was a very old man and then suddenly a completely new and much younger man was right there where the old man no longer was.
WN: As always, my salute to James Lipton’s Q&A tradition: What turns you off?
RG: If we were confining ourselves to poetry, I would have to say logorrhoea – expansive manic poems that are written to confound or confuse or impress with their general erudition or zany brain thinkings. I have been accused of at least the zany tendency, but honestly, I am trying to say something, and it is sort of from the heart, or at least I try to take it from there whenever I can. If we weren’t confining ourselves to poetry then…gee whiz, I don’t know. Car horns that don’t play “La Cucaracha”? Or maybe just cars. But it would be so much nicer to talk about things that turn us on…the theremin comes right to mind. It always makes me happy. Like pears.
A poem from September:
Just All Thumbs I wash my hands but not my thumbs. Just like everybody else. They don’t wash their thumbs because they stick up out of the water when their hands are in the sink. I don’t wash them because I wash my hands and I walk outdoors and see the beautiful sun and give it the thumbs up sign with my thumbs up, and the sun pours down onto my thumbs and bathes them in a cleansing, heaven light.