Interview with Rich Orth by Dave Wolff
Since I interviewed you for the print version of this zine you published two books of your poetry and written material for a third you plan to release. Tell the readers about this?
First, it is hard to believe it has been that long since the last interview, wow! The third book is entitled Dreamonology. Unfortunately, there have been many hiccups in the process of completing this project. All problems gravitate back towards me, but I sincerely hoped to release Dreamonolgy in 2017 or early 2018. There are more similarities than differences between this creation and the others. I am blessed to have my dear friend and Brother in Art, Alex Kautz returning as the purveyor of my vision.
As many know, I have surrounded myself with many artists and photographers with otherworldly talents. Dreamonolgy is no different in that aspect. There will be one major difference as the new book will contain my first short story titled “Recurring Cameo”.
Not to sound self-aggrandizing in any way, but you mentioned this zine played a part in your recognition as a writer. To what extent would you say so?
Asphyxium (Autoeroticasphyxium) was the first time that I was ever published in print form. My poetry now came in a medium that was something tangible to show people. I save every rough draft and have copybooks filled with my creations, but to be a published writer should be every artist's dream. Hence, the reason that you are and will be in the dedication section of any book of mine. I have also had the privilege of seeing other poets that I befriended also be posted for the first time by Asphyxium! You have always attracted a talented group of writers like moths to a flame.
Who are some of the poets and fiction writers you discovered through the zine that you have kept up with on a regular basis?
Sarah McKellar comes to mind immediately. We have been coconspirators on some poetry...and I keep promising we will take that ride again. Unfortunately, I am in the throes of an entire year of writer's block.
How much material have you and Sarah McKellar worked on together? How would you say your approach to writing poetry meshes with hers? Are there other writers you’ve written poems with?
Sarah and I have conspired on two poems, "Wake to the Salt" and "Descartes a la Carte". If not for my writer's block, we would have at least two more. My approach is the same with all collaborators, we banter back and forth four to eight lines at a time, whilst creating a cohesive thought. I have yet to be disappointed! I really do more collaborating with artists and photographers than I do with poets. Other than our collab (Angel?) and those with Sarah, the only one in last year or two was one with Natasa Nikolic which we did over messenger. A bonus for all reading the interview:
Wake to the Salt!
Sarah McKellar & Rich Orth, 01/27/2019
Once more upon a time,
A woman loved a man,
Before he set sail,
She knew she'd not see him again,
She tasted salty air
Weathered... she dreamt whether
He... the one should return
The storm rose quickly,
Along with the breeze,
As she stood anxiously,
And with horror watched the seas,
Shift and shape
into forms of denial
Wherest she could not wake
From the crest of this wave
Caught in the dream...
of a meandering sea,
Was this a twisted nightmare,
Or a new heartbreaking reality?
So as siren's mist...
How she knew...oh, how true.
he was gone
Gone this day
Tell the readers about your collaboration with Natasa and how long it took to develop until it came to fruition. Where on the web or in print can it be read?
I became acquainted with Natasa Nikolic through her band at the time, Tragederia and your zine. I commented on her music, she plays keyboard and sings and she complimented my writing. Then as things go, we didn't communicate much, but then one day when we were, Natasa mentioned she had written lyrics for the first time. I mentioned possibly collaborating on some lyrics. She agreed and threw out the first few lines and off it went. Each of us doing a few lines or a verse at a time over messenger. Within an hour or so we had a basic set up and then I tried to put in the form of lyrics.
I messaged her today to get the ok...so here for the first time anywhere other than messenger.....
Natasa Nikolic & Rich Orth
Bow to falsified dreams
Drop to your knees
Pray to stupidity
Walk away from your needs
Through this misty wind, in one rosy night..
How sympathy swirled
Oh, my Love... how destiny called
Cried out for a wandering soul
Kiss me on this morrow...
Love me each yesterday..
I awoke from a dream
Life tis never what it seems
Let us clasp our hands...
gaze towards the sky
May we cry and smile...
Together, we stand defiant
Bow to falsified dreams
Drop to your knees
Pray to stupidity
Walk away from your needs
Within our excitement
We rise above.. embrace the love
....that once was left to the right
Lost to horrors that excite
Our empty hearts shriek
Attract hidden might
Rinse the unforeseen
so we Can leave all and everything
Bow to falsified dreams
Drop to your knees
Pray to stupidity
Walk away from your needs
Were you planning to publish your writing when you started channeling your thoughts? How long had you thought of getting published before we met on social media?
I began writing poetry in 1980. There was never a thought of anything other than writing thoughts on paper. Once written, I would share with some close friends or family and then store the drafts in a trunk and the finalized poem would be written in a copybook. Yep, state of the art for the day. Continued this method until 2009, when I began writing everything on the computer in my Hotmail. Oh yeah, publishing, I never thought about it at all for the first thirty years of writing. I did dabble in lyric writing for bands in the mid 90's, but other than that, the system of draft to trunk and finished to copybooks stayed intact till 2009.
You have long cited Edgar Allan Poe as your main inspiration, besides a few other writers. What influences if any do you have that your readers are not aware of?
I have always enjoyed finding inspiration anywhere. Of course some easy ones are, Jim Morrison, Universal and Hammer films, Movies in general and writers like Keats, Shelley, Wilde. Even Night Gallery and Dark Shadows. Many times it can just be a bumper sticker, a phrase, words in a sign on a box, scriptures, a dictionary. Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places; you just have to keep an open mind.
Can you describe how those poets and TV shows personally speak to you and inspire you?
In all cases, I believe they were atmospheric conduits. Their stories, the imagery, be it a movie, a song, or poetry brought about mindful thought. I have been known to write happy poems even spiritually inspirational, or so I have been told. Though from a young age I was always drawn to the darker side of life. As a child my parents never hid my eyes to horror in fiction or death in our daily lives. I love looking at fluffy clouds and the sun's rays bursting downwards like a holy card coming to life, but many times I just preferred to meander through a misty field as darkness fell and storms were rolling in from the distance.
Are there any newer movies you’ve watched lately that compare to the movies and television shows you grew up with?
Finding myself constantly watching older movies that I love, going to answer with an emphatic NO. The amount of movies that Lora and I give a chance, but turn off after twenty to thirty minutes is quite abundant. As for TV, we enjoy, Lucifer, Stranger Things, Glitch, The Umbrella Academy, and then of course we still find ourselves watching the Honeymooners, Carol Burnett and Dark Shadows. I do enjoy searching Netflix for international shows. I even found myself enjoying subtitled series like the Russian show, The Sniffer.
What do you look for in a phrase to inspire your writing? Does something with wittiness or an idea that’s otherwise unpopular or not as entertained as others? How does it help to expand on your writing?
I do enjoy word play and hate to follow any traditional rhyme scheme in my attempts. What one looks for...hmmm... truly something just seized my attention. It doesn't have to be exotic or even interesting at first glance. Imagine the sculptor with a clump of clay and somehow something is born of that.
Unpopular...that is in children's eye...I have written poetry about a serial killer's love, that many seemed a beautiful love poem. There are several that state my political beliefs not so cryptically in my mind, but when shared people and what they envisioned, not what I has in mind.
As for any expansion of my writing truly just occurs when I take up a pen or keyboard. Rarely, other than when I am writing lyrics for Demon Boy, do I have a plot or cadence as I begin the process of trying to bring a story to life that effectively awakens all of your senses.
What kind of setbacks have you experienced releasing Dreamonology? Is it meant to be an independent release or are your plans to release it through a company?
Dreamonology just had been eluding completion. For all intents and purposes it should have been in the readers’ hands two years ago. It will definitely be Independent...My wife, Lora, myself and possibly one other person will be involved in the layout and self-publication. In all honesty, I am the only reason Dreamonology has not been completed... and I really can't put a finger on why.
How much work is being channeled into your new publication and what similarities does it share with your previous anthologies?
Other than the minor complications like my computer dying and such, this book was simpler to complete. I follow a pattern in all three books of surrounding myself with some of the most talented photographers and artists. It is a give and take atmosphere. With the same artist, I may write to their art on one creation and on another they are drawing to my words. This formula will be used until I no longer find it feasible...and honestly, I do not see that ever happening.
Can you discuss the reception your last two books received upon their release? Any reviews you remember in particular?
My first book, POEtry Girls did very well. Everything I do with my poetry is through self-promotion, so I unfortunately limit myself. Those that read or reviewed both books seemed to enjoy my musings. I do believe that they were published too close together. My feeling is that if the second, Bloody T'is My Valentine was released about six months to a year later than it was, it would have outsold POEtry Girls.
Since your first two books, are you finding new partners to cross promote or collaborate on projects with?
I have a core group of talented friends with phenomenal artistic ability. That being said, not everyone is available at any given time. Luckily for me, I have been able to find talent in many environments. Dreamonology has two of my daughter, Cait's friends involved. I sometimes find out that friends have artistic abilities that we never had previously discussed. As of this moment in writing, I have not collaborated with anyone in the last ten months. I have rarely even collaborated with myself during this period. This bout of writer's block is decimating. Rarely have I ever succumbed to a dry spell this long, when I am actively trying to write.
What have Cait’s friends contributed to Dreamonology while it was being written?
Cait has some very talented friends. The two appearing in Dreamonolgy are both artists. For Lauren Rachlin it was me writing words to her art titled Sandman. With Jim Simpson, the reverse. He drew to my poem, Slivers!
What projects have you and Alexander Kautz been collaborating on besides the new book you’re publishing?
Alex and I have discussed doing a fourth book together. He actually came up with the concept. Tentative title is “Cemetery Girls”. I have archived roughly twenty-five poems for the project at this time. My difficulty is just getting Dreamonology completed and published first. Dreamonology will be the experiment on how to proceed with “Cemetery Girls”.
What would Alex be planning to contribute to “Cemetery Girls” when you and he begin work on it?
Alex has full reign...The cover is a given. I am honored that Alex is always there for me. I have many unpublished poems, some never seen by anyone ready to go forth and breathe. I hope to have this book be only a family endeavor. Artwork by Alex, photography by Lora, Cait and myself and about forty five of my truest Cemetery Girls type poems from me.
Who are some of the newer artists and/or writers you arrived into contact with since your previous collections were published?
Julie Dunic has an array of art in Dreamonolgy. Lora saw her art at a Macabre Faire event and Julie was open to collaborating. Such a talented artist, I can't thank Julie enough. Two of my daughter Cait's friends are also involved. Jim Simpson did some knockout art on his phone with a stylus to my poem, Splinters...I was in awe and Lauren Rachlin allowed me to write to her fantastic piece, Sandman...a perfect marriage of art and poetry. I have many longtime friends involved also...Including Killian Baker who created a mind blowing photograph...I love it...many will know of Killian as the subject of my poem, Killian's Curse featured on page 66 of Bloody T'is My Valentine!!
How long ago was “Recurring Cameo” written and why did you decide to include it in a book of your poems?
I started writing “Recurring Cameo” in 2015...it was completed in 2016. Ironically or not, I began writing it in the Children's toy store where I was working at the time. It seems a fitting ending to Dreamonology...as a dear friend Patrick Devaney told me after reading that it sounded like a poet wrote it.
What is the storyline of “Recurring Cameo” and where did the inspiration to write it come from?
The premise is an object of beauty is passed from one to the next over centuries. The idea just happened...I don't even recall now but I have always been infatuated with cameos as jewelry. The title is a play on actors doing cameos. If I say any more...I would have to kill you, haha.
You mentioned writing lyrics with Demon Boy and we discussed that in our previous interview? What collaborations have you and he done in recent years?
In June The Amazing Demon Boy released a video for our latest song “Horrifying”, co-written by Demon Boy and myself. Also released was a remastered version of our song, “This Halloween” in a very cool video, which came out last month. I am sure there is more to come. I wholeheartedly enjoy hearing any of the songs we have collaborated on over and over again. Check out what's brewing in the Demon's Lair at http://amazingdemonboy.com/.
Describe the process by which you and Demon Boy worked in the lyrics for “Horrifiying”. You’ve collaborated with Demon Boy on past projects; did your mutual experience help this time around?
Typically, our process is the music is already written, usually by Demon Boy himself. Once music is primarily complete, Demon Boy will write the "Hook" and then I fill in the verses. This is not necessarily a given, but more often than not. Fortunately, we have co-written for some time now, so we have a good sense of what is needed to make a finished product that pops. The goal is to always make the next better than the last.
How much exposure has “Horrifying” received since its release? Are you and Demon Boy planning more collaborations in the future?
When you are in league with Demon Boy, exposure is never a problem. The Horrifying video is bolstered by nearly 20,000 views in the short time it's been on YouTube, so it is getting seen. In fact, I just requested Alexa play Horrifying and I am now listening to our song on Amazon Music. Here is the link
to the video.
As for future collaborations, there most definitely will be more to come. Just this past week Demon Boy contacted me. One of our collabs, “Ezmerelda”, is about to be recorded in the studio in New York. There was a couple of lines that made sense when I wrote them, but just weren't right. I stated before that my inner voices that help me write have been eerily silent for over a year. My longest drought in nearly 15 years. A phone call from Demon Boy and a quick revisiting of the lines just ignited the spark. It's funny, but when Demon Boy says no pressure, I just need it yesterday, my mind just slips into savant mode. The lines came to me instantly. Fortunately, when I sent the new lines back to Demon Boy it was what we needed all along.
Before Covid 19 you have made a number of local convention appearances to promote your work. Describe some of these appearances as you remember them. Are you still in touch with some of these convention organizers in the past year?
Lora and I were fortunate enough to have been befriended by Elsie & Adam Ginsberg. Through them I have gotten to walk a Red Carpet, mingle with celebrity and even have my book, Rich Orth POEtry Girls be a prop in the movie, Long Island Serial Killer. My first time meeting them in person was the movie premiere on Nov. 12th 2013. I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest (my first book signing as an "author") to Elsie & Adam's Macabre Faire Film Festival in January 2014. That began a whirlwind time over the next couple of years of meeting and not just befriending, but truly becoming Family with such an array of talented, loveable and somewhat demented people. Amazingly, I even got a shout out in the trailer
for the Festival...talk about thrilled! Since then I have been to several of their events and despite the situation now, Lora and I stay in close contact (not less than 6') with so many, as I said before, Family members. Sadly, Elsie passed away this year... a devastating loss for so many. Recently Adam posted this, I'm proud to announce that the Macabre Faire Film Festival will be returning Sept. 30 - Oct. 3, 2021 in the historic Capitol Theatre located in Lebanon TN! It's very fitting the Elsie's legacy will continue on. If all goes well, Lora and I hope to travel to this event!
Do you think the pandemic will have tapered off by the time the next Macabre Faire festival comes around? How will the festival/convention scenes in LI and Pennsylvania be affected in the long haul?
One would hope that Covid-19 will be gone by then, but we shall see. I am sure there will be ways to address how to hold events given that reality has become virtual reality. I am sure many events will fall along the wayside, but once this clear, the ones that remain standing will be overwhelmed by the live support. Of course, this is merely my conjecture. The world could end tomorrow...or not.
How much more work has to be done to complete Dreamonology at this point? And how much more creative control do you have from publishing independently? Do you intend to continue or are you seeking a professional company to publish through in the future?
The only work remaining for Dreamonology is formatting it. The artwork, photography and poetry is completed. We have complete control start to finish as with my last book Bloody Tis My Valentine! Seeking professional help...hmm is that a thinly veiled question about my sanity? Seriously, if I could have complete artistic control, I would love to have a company assist me in getting a larger audience. My soul though is not for sale, as of yet!
Having written poems for such a long period, is there a vision you have in mind or is there one you’re developing? Does the way your readers resonate with your writing help fuel it?
The vision is always to make my "VISION", what the reader wants (ok, what I really want). As a reader, I want a living, breathing entity...I want to taste, smell, touch, hear and see what the words promote. When I write it usually just happens, on occasion I have researched a subject, but that is not my norm. I just want anyone reading it to feel like they are involved, a mere 20-line poem takes said person into a movie theatre chair and then they find themselves suddenly at the precipice of a rollercoaster ride. I don't ask much...no really...
In what ways do you equate what you want as a writer with what your readers want as your readership?
As a writer, I want to paint the perfect portrait, direct Citizen Kane, prepare an exquisite seven course meal...I can't think of what more a reader would want or what more an artist could expect of themselves. The only thing I aspire to do differently is to possibly expand my subject matter. I write about whatever triggers me at the time. Most times it borders on the dark side. I may shift to a broader vision...as long as whatever path taken, never seems forced or contrived.
How far have you come as a writer since you started? Have the years flown or dragged by? How do you expect your writing to develop in the near future?
When I began, I just thought Poetry meant rhyming the end words of sentences. Not a bad thing to do, but Poetry is so much more. The art will take you as far as your mind allows. If I shared the 1st poem written by me in Dec 1980 and lined it up next to my last one written 11/19/2019, I believe the progression would be...shall we say, noticeable. I can truly say, there is no thought of 20 yr. old Rich thinking, "yep, I am gonna be a published poet." No belief in that outcome, to this day I am amazed at how many have read my work.
The years have flown by...the writing of poetry has not...it sometimes drags. Life never stops, poetry on the other hand has peaks and valleys...dormancy...kind of like the 17-year cicada. In a suspended animation of sorts and bammmm, lights, camera, action...annoy everyone with some noisy clicking and then RIP.
I hope only that words decide to revisit me, when their respite is over. I have enjoyed expressing an array of thoughts and visions. The writing and thought choose when they need to be heard. As they say...recently, "The silence has been DEAFENING!" if the luck of the draw has passed me by, it was a great run. I have hundreds of poems squirreled away, that are unseen. I have almost 500 drafts sitting in purgatorial Hotmail. We shall see...and rest assured if the ability returns, I will share ....I am fortunate to have written as many poems as I have. The fact that my words actually have affected people's lives is more than one could hope for. I have quit many times, but then I will be told a tale of how my words made someone's life different, better even. That may sound self-effacing, but I still get chills thinking of those conversations. So...yeah, no freaking idea where the path is leading me now! I WILL get more books out there within the next 2 years. Dreamonology seems like mythology now, but it is reality. I WILL complete and publish Dreamonology prior to HALLOWEEN 2021. My goal is April.
Final word...Thanks to Dave Wolff and his Asphyxium Zine. Dave was the first to publish yours truly! He has supported so many artists and given them a forum to be heard. Through Dave, I have had the chance to see 9 other poets published in Asphyxium for their first time. Don't care how popular you are...you always remember the 1st. If you don’t, you are an effin idiot.
Can't think of a witty salutation,
Rich Orth...soon to be Richard Orth on Dreamonology & Cemetery Girls!