BookPleasures.com - http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher
Meet Poet & Writer Richard Katrovas
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/7248/1/Meet-Poet-amp-Writer-Richard-Katrovas/Page1.html
Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on October 22, 2014
 


Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Writer & Poet, Richard Katrovas


      

      

Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest writer and poet Richard Katrovas. Richard has also been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Fulbright scholarship fellowship.

In addition to his seven collections of poetry, his short story collection, a novel, and three memoirs, Katrovas is the founding director of the Prague Summer Program. He taught for 20 years at the University of New Orleans before moving to Western Michigan University. He divides his time between Kalamazoo, MI, New Orleans, and Prague.

Norm:

Good day Richard and thanks for participating in our interview

When did you first consider yourself a writer? What keeps you going?

Richard:

Living in the projects of Norfolk, Virginia, my old man in prison, my mother dying, one night I took out the garbage as I did most nights. I looked up into a starry sky, my head filled with the smell of garbage, and had a mystical experience. I was eleven. I wrote a very bad poem that very night.

Norm:

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

Richard:

It’s the very subject of much of my writing. I turn sixty-one in a couple of weeks and I’m still trying to figure out just what happened when I was a kid, what motivated my sick, beautiful young parents, how I processed “America” traversing it innumerable times in automobiles, how I understand my citizenship as the son of American criminals.

Norm:

What genre are you most comfortable writing? Please explain why?

Richard:

I’m most comfortable working in whichever genre I happen to be working in. Forgive my glibness, but I move more or less effortlessly between genres. I’m at present excited to get back to projects that are more or less finished, or at least fleshed out, a novel and a book of stories, the first set in New Orleans, the second in Prague: Confessions of a Waiter and The Great Czech Navy.

I’m also putting finishing touches on a collection of poems that is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press late next year, Swastika to Lotus; I’ve published some of the poems in journals, but have to schlep the rest to other journals. I have to do the same with some of the stories. I’ve grown to hate that part of publishing poems, stories and essays. Actually, I’ve grown to hate all forms of self-promotion, though I understand the necessity.

Norm:

What helps you focus when you write? Do you find it easy reading back your own work?

Richard:

I’ve never had “focus” issues. I love to work, to write, especially when I get to the point where I more or less know what I’m doing, that is, when I get beyond the exploratory stage. Every writer worth even a few grains of salt is monomaniacal about reading her or his own work again and again and again and again and again in the composition and revision stages.

Norm:

What do you want your work to do? Amuse people? Provoke thinking?

Richard:

What I desire more than anything is for thoughtful, seasoned readers to appreciate how good my sentences and tropes can be and that I try, sometimes desperately, to tell the truth about who and what I am, what I feel and think.

Norm:

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Richard:

Philip Levine was a mentor, but not because he chose to be. We’ve never much liked one other, but as a young man I learned something about being a writer in the world from his example, and about truth telling. Gerald Stern taught me about joy, as did Arnost Lustig. Carolyn Forche taught me about nerve, surfing the moment. From the whole great world of American Poetry I learned how self-servingly narcissistic most lyric poems are, and have been humbled by this knowledge, though probably not enough.

Norm:

Please tell our readers something about your recent collection of essays, RAISING GIRLS IN BOHEMIA: Meditations of an American Father.

Richard:

I’ve never been, and probably will never be again, as emotionally invested in a book as I am in this one. In a nutshell, it’s a memoir in essays, that is, though it’s composed in discreet units, individual essays, the same backstory informs all of them and my hope is that, though there are some redundancies (that I hope have a refrain-like effect), it strikes the reader as a single, singular, narrative.

It’s about raising daughters relatively late in life, about how intense parenting changes a man’s relation to his own gendered identity, though more importantly to the world of others. “Bohemia” in the title is the geographical location, cityscapes and landscapes I’ve indeed occupied intermittently for a quarter century now, but it’s also the behemoth of American popular culture, and indeed it’s America’s own Bohemia, New Orleans.

Norm:

What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?

Richard:

I’ll tell them never to forget Robert Frost’s formulation, that art, our usually piss-poor attempts to make the stuff, is “play for mortal stakes.” This is a paradox every writer should live by!

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and your writings?

Richard:

I’ve published thirteen other books, most of which may be acquired through Amazon or other online sources. I’d love for more folks to read my novel, Mystic Pig and/or my two other memoirs. There are reviews and interviews scattered about and accessible online.

Norm:

What is next for Richard Katrovas?

Richard:

Well, when this interview is done, I have to finish grading quizzes on D. H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking Horse Winner” and edit three student stories. But I’m sure you’re referring to a Big Picture, and I can only say that I’m an enormously happy person.

I’m married to a beautiful human being, a goddess I worship daily. I chat luxuriously almost daily with two goddess daughters, who are in Prague, on Skype, and take care of my nine-year-old daily. She’s at school as we speak; I’ll pick her up at 3:55 from the bus stop, take her home and feed her a snack. Then I’ll drag her through homework she kind of hates primarily because it’s too easy for her. I’ll cook dinner for both my goddess wife and goddess youngest daughter, clean the house, watch too much political commentary on MSNBC while editing student writing, take a long walk with my little goddess, etc. etc. What’s next? I want to write a big, beautiful, painfully and gloriously honest Book of Life.

Norm:

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Richard:

Norm, I can’t think of a single thing!

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Follow Here To Purchase Raising Girls in Bohemia: Meditations of an American Father: A Memoir in Essays