25th Trillium Award

Poets In Profile: R.L. Raymond

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RL Raymond

In R.L. Raymond's latest collection of poetry, Half Myths and Quarter Legends (Epic Rites Press), Raymond creates an intense atmosphere of horror that will grip and terrify readers, yet leave them wanting more. If you're in the area, Raymond will be launching Half Myths and Quarter Legends in London on December 5th at Mykonos Greek Restaurant. In his edition of the Poets in Profile series, Raymond tells us about why metal (music) is one source of inspiration for him, why he wouldn't exactly call himself a poet and what two poems, merged together, would create the über poem.

Open Book:

Can you describe an experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a poet?

R.L. Raymond:

Telling stories — be it jokes or weaving yarns — has always been a passion of mine. Just wanting to share those is really the only impetus. There was no epiphany, no moment of awe. I just started writing when I thought I had something interesting to say.


What is the first poem you remember being affected by?


I have to go with Beowulf and ?The Wasteland?. You have a powerful, majestic narrative on one hand and wonderfully dense imagery on the other. Merging those two would be the über poem for me.


What one poem — from any time period — do you wish you had been the one to write?


That is a tough one. Instead of a poem, I think I?d pick the opening to Cormac McCarthy?s Blood Meridian. Evocative. Complex in its simplicity. A perfect example of what an author?s voice should be: strong and identifiable.


What has been your most unlikely source of inspiration?


Well, er, do I dare?... sure? Metal. The music. Ambient, dark, brooding, powerful, and under it all, under the bleakness, sometimes it has to be taken with a grain of salt. The sound patterns, especially repetitions, and juxtapositions of harsh and lull, I love all of it. There is an essence to Metal that I can identify with. And I think a lot of musicians in the genre truly understand the tongue-in-cheek nature of the scene.


What do you do with a poem that just isn't working?


It usually doesn?t make it to the page. I am lucky that I can work from ideas, evaluate them, form them and assess their ?viability? before they hit paper. Any fragments will stay locked in the vault of my skull until I can tease a piece from them. Then, I jot it down and usually there aren?t too many edits thereafter.


What was the last book of poetry you read that really knocked your socks off?


Although there are many collections I dig, most recently I?ve reread the Collected Poems of Samuel Beckett. One of the sections shows the French version of a poem, facing the English version. The transference of image between languages and how the words alter those images is fascinating.


What is the best thing about being a poet?and what is the worst?


Well, good or bad, I don?t really consider myself a poet. I?m a writer. I happen to use poetic tools to convey my message, but the guts of my writing are always the stories, the narratives. I am a hybrid of sorts: poem-short-story-maker-upper-guy. The worse part? If regular folks ?think? I?m a poet, they have certain expectations. Then they pick up a book and say, ?Wait, this isn?t a poem; it?s a story!? People expect poetry to be flowery, maybe slightly inaccessible, elitist. Breaking those misconceptions is the worse (and maybe the best) part.

R L Raymond is a writer from Ontario, Canada. By blurring the line between poetry and short fiction, he produces narratives that can engage anyone. Published in dozens of literature and underground journals around the world, with three collections under his belt, Raymond just wants to break down the walls and tell his stories.

For more information about Half Myths & Quarter Legends please visit the Epic Rites Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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