Have a question? Email
Q: Do you answer your own emails?
Ray: Yes, always, but sometimes there's a delay when I'm on the road
performing or when I'm sometimes flooded with emails. I'll get back to
you as soon as I can. Write me.
Q: When and where do you write?
Ray: I try to write
everyday, even if it's just
notes jotted in my notebook, kinda' primin' the pump. But when I can I'll
go up to the coffee shop here and write from 11 to 3....then take
Q: What do you do when you're not writing or performing?
Ray: I go down to a sacred place
down at the river and just be, swim, listen to the rapids, talk to the hawks.
I do watch baseball games. It's my one frivolous distraction. I love
the psychological drama...the way it unfolds slowly and then everything turns
Q: How do you make a living as a poet?
Ray: Versatility. I'm also
an actor, singer, and educator. My bread and butter is doing educational
theatre and writing workshops. But I also performing in adult theatre and
fronting a band, Tongue-in-Groove. I also take on specific writing
projects. I'm just finished working on an adaptation of The Tibetan book of
the Dead for Cleveland Public Theatre, "Blue Sky Transmission", and it
opens in New York in December, 2002.
Q: What is performance poetry?
Ray: Performance poetry combines
dance and stand-up comedy in a lively mix that takes poetry from the page to the
stage. The poem becomes a mini-play really, with all the dynamics and
nuances of theatre. It's more than the slam -- which has become a three-minute
form, much in the
same way the sonnet evolved. Though not as rigid structurally, slam poems have
become formulaic. Performance poetry has more room to stretch and explore.
Q: Where do you see Poetry going in the 21st Century?
Ray: Everywhere. It's having
a resurgence of late and will continue popping up on the mass culture radar as
long as it's perceived to be hip. Teaching it as something that had a lot
of rules and had a hidden meaning did it a great disservice. Now it is
more popular, what with the Def poetry Jam and beer commercial haikus which will
water it down some. But poetry is at the heart of who we are, so
advertising can't do it too much harm.
Q: What about internet publishing?
Ray: I don't know. I can tell you if you
post a poem, that is "published" and no longer qualifying as "First
North American Rights".
Q: Who are your favorite poets?
Ray: Well, I start with
Shakespeare, he had such an
understanding of human nature and expressed it in a way that still rings
beautifully true. I learned much from Yeats and Neruda, and closer to home the
Ohio Poets Mary Oliver and especially James Wright. Also T'ang
Dynasty lyric poets, Li Po, Wang Wei, Po-Chu-I. Lately I've been reading 20th
century Russian Poets.