THIS MONTH LINDA CHATTED WITH RUTH DAIGON OVER A CUP OF CYBERSPACE TEA.
Hi Ruth. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with our readers. Would you like to tell us a little about yourself?
I am performance poet/editor and former concert singer. I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and am now an American where I have published several hardcover books (poetry collections): "BETWEEN ONE FUTURE AND THE NEXT", "THE MOON INSIDE", "HANDFULS OF TIME" "PAYDAY AT THE TRIANGLE", "A "PORTABLE" "PAST", "LEARNING NOT TO KILL YOU", "RUTH DAIGON'S GREATEST HITS (1971-2000)", and "ABOUT A YEAR" I also have been published in many poetry publications, anthologies and hundreds of Internet magazines which carry not only individual poems, groups of poems but also several chapbooks, Interviews, discussion panels plus guest appearances. My website is
Q. How long have you been writing? What made you put that first story/poem down on paper?
A. I have been writing about 35 years and began while I was still actively singing. The two careers meshed. Every poem I have written was recorded. Some, I felt were easy for publication and the others needed further work...polishing etc. I can’t imagine not putting a poem down on paper in its final phase. How else would you know it existed?
Q. Have you been published? What was the first story/poem? Where was it published? How long did it take? What was the process? How easy was it finding a publisher?
A. My first published poem "AND THE BLIND" was published in "SHENANDOAH". I simply typed it out neatly and sent it out to SHENANDOAH. A few months later it was accepted and the magazine came out in a couple of months or a year later. You needed a great deal of patience until you saw the finished product but that's the way it is with hard cover magazines. Sometimes it took years. The Internet is a much quicker process. In a few days or weeks you get your acceptance or rejection and before you know it you're up on the Internet. Less time spent biting your nails and waiting. Of course finding the right publication for your kind of poetry took great research.... discussions with other poets....and finally sending your work out which may or not be accepted. And then you had to begin all over again ....to study your poem...see where the weakness lay and continue sending it out until acceptance. It did not come easily. Time and patience were necessary. But what a great feeling to finally make it.
Q. Do you write in a particular genre?
A Yes. Because of my musical background my poetry has to sing and flow easily and effortlessly. That's why I'm called a lyric poet. But there's a lot of sweat behind each line. I just don't dash it off. There is much thought and effort and self searching before I allow it to make a public entrance.
Q. Who’s your favorite author and why?
A. That is a very difficult question because there are so many fine poets and when I read one that is of particular interest to me, then that poet is my favorite one. Until the next poet comes along AND THEY COME THICK AND FAST.
Q. How did you deal with rejection letters, if you received any?
When I was first rejected, of course I was upset. But now, I use the rejection like a tool to help me find what was wrong with a poem, how it could be corrected (if I thought it needed correction). Some editors who rejected my poetry became my greatest teachers. I used them wisely and well.
Q What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
A I think the discipline of writing daily at a given time slot is one of the most important elements of writing poetry (good or bad). Listening to others, even though you do not agree with them, is important. And immersing yourself in the poetry of others is invaluable. It stretches you. And I think that involving yourself in other activities, other interests so you don't bog down at the computer until nothing else exists is vital for the life and new energy for your work. Other activities exist....swim....go for a hike....go to a concert...a play a movie...even a cocktail party can give you new insights. IF your life is boring because you're immersing yourself in you poetry and just bury yourself from life around you.... then your poems as well will be boring...Do something that gives you a shot in the arm(or other areas) It can be very refreshing for your poetry...TRY IT!
Q. How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
A I don't think this question applies to me. You must be talking to an author of a book or play BUT if I was writing a poem about a particular person, I would let that character speak for him/her self and try not to manipulate her. I generally let a line or thought lead me.... sometimes music or art grabs me and I allow it to flow.
Q. Do you have a favorite writing link you’d like to share?
A. I can't answer that. I don't linkup with other on the WEB. I prefer meeting people, seeing their faces...hearing their voices .
Q. What do you do to unwind and relax?
A. Go for a walk or a swim or listen to music.....or have a glass of wine...It does wonders
Q. What does your family feel about your writing? Are they supportive?
A. They are totally supportive. My husband suggested writing as an alternative to singing or a support. I've discussed everything I write with him.... but do not necessarily act on his advice.... but certainly listen... He's a professor involved with writing and English but I'm not intimidated by him...We have had plenty of literary battles...and we learn from each other.
Q. What inspires you? Who inspires you?
A. word....a phrase....a sound a scene from a movie.... an actress like Meryl Streep
who is totally honest and convincing..... being with my husband and sons can be very inspiring even if we're just horsing around... laughing.... enjoying each other.
Q. Are you working on any projects right now?
A. I've been asked to cut a disk...reading from a couple of my books.... my favorite and infuriating poems
Q. How do you handle Writer’s Block?
A I start reading other poets and get into a rhythm that begins flowing through me
Q. What is most frustrating about writing? Most rewarding?
A. Frustrating The empty page and how do I fill it? Rewarding When the ideas flow and the words race from out of my fingers.....and time disappears..
Q. Do you have any kind of writing schedule?
A Yes every morning is reserved for writing and nothing interferes.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given as a writer? What’s the worst?
A Best piece of advice? I would never presume to advise anyone how to write. I would only tell you what works for me. I finish my coffee, sit at my desk and let time flow around me. Never force anything but let it come to me, and it will and then just let it flow without interruption. No corrections or editing. That comes later. And as the work moves, I realize whatever it is, is not the most important work in the world, it's just important to me which allows me to have fun and pleasure myself.
The worst advice is to take yourself seriously but just enjoy whatever gift nature has given you you and just go....go....go
Q. If I were sitting down to write my very first story/poem, what would your advice be?
A. think the answer lies in the above response to your questions
Q. What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
A. Again, I repeat, I would never presume to advise anyone how to write. I would only tell you what works for me. I finish my coffee, sit at my desk and let time flow around me. Never force anything but let it come to me and it will and then just let it flow without interruption. No corrections or editing. That comes later. And as the work moves, I realize whatever it is, is not the most important work in the world, it's just important to me which allows me to have fun and pleasure myself. And don't take yourself too seriously but enjoy whatever talent nature has given you and don't be afraid of not doing your best of even falling on your face. Just pick yourself and keep going.
Q. Any last comments or advice?
TAKE IT EASY! WHICH DOESN'T MEAN TO BE LAZY OR SLOPPY BUT JUST PLUNGE IN AND ALLOW YOUR WORDS TO CARRY YOU TO PLACES YOU'VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE