LATEST LIT FIEND NEWS FROM THE OFFICE OF THE LOST ELATION
compiled by Abbie Foxton
“We’re all going on-a, Sum-mer Holiday, Vigilante’s coming out to follow me.“
While muggins here sits in her white halter, getting fanned by some archaic dust buster, Joe Ridgwell is sunning himself on some tropical island somewhere south of the Maldives, sucking on a long cool one, answering a barrage of Q’s from fellow writer and keeper of the beat Katie Doherty.
KD: Why do you write?
JR: I’ve never been really sure. The impulse to get words down manifested itself many, many years ago and has stayed with me ever since. Nobody encouraged me to write so it came from within. What I discovered was that I found writing an entertaining and enjoyable experience. Also, I realised I was different and maybe had something interesting to say. I also wanted to leave something behind. I didn’t want to end up on my deathbed with any regrets. I wanted to live first and then write later, which is what I’ve so far accomplished.
KD: At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
JR: I started out young, around 7 or 8, but with my sort of background there were little opportunities to nourish this innate desire to get the word down. Also, when I told a teacher in secondary school that I wanted to be writer, she replied that this was out of the question because most writers ended up starving to death in a garret. I’ve always remembered that comment. I didn’t even know what a garret was!
KD: Which writers have influenced you?
JR: Quite a few. Bukowski was my main influence, and it took a while to get that monkey off my back. I don’t care what lesser talents think of him. He was way ahead of his time and totally original. If you compare the crap most writers were producing at the time he was perfecting his style, he was light years ahead, and that includes the Beats. Other than Buke, other writers that have influenced me to lesser or larger degrees are as follows: John Fante, Jack London, Jack Kerouac, Blaise Cendrars, Celine, Wu Chengen, Basho. Li Po, Richard Brautigan, Terry Southern, John Keats, Shelley, Oscar Wilde, Knut Hamsun, Cookie Mueller, Carson McCullers, Henry Lawson, George Orwell, Jean Paul Satre, Jonathon Swift, Nietzsche, Schopenhaur, William Blake, Patrick Hamilton, Gerald Kersch, James Curtis, Valerie Solanas, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexander Trocchi, Henry Miller, Rimbaud, Sappho, Mark Twain, JD Salinger, Marquis De Sade, Omar Khayyain, Frank Black, Guy De Maupassant, Dennis Potter, Joe Orton, Jean Rhys
KD: Being reclusive is quite common in the writing profession, it is a lonely job. Can you tell us what is an average day (if such a thing exists) for Joseph Ridgwell and what do you love and hate about living a more reclusive life these days?
JR: An average writing day is like this. I awake late, usually hungover, with some vague idea of what I’m going to write about, a short story, a poem, section of a novel, whatever. Then I’ll do anything I can to avoid writing, like stare at a table leg, or tidy something up, or, or, or…Finally, however, the creative act has to commence. I’ll usually write for a couple of hours, maybe three. There’s no point writing for longer as the writing tends to disintegrate and become formulaic or dull. Writing is like burning. Afterwards I’m always hot, even to touch. Writing is essientially a solo pursuit. I can’t understand writers who want to hang out with other writers, or go to writing conferences or retreats. I mean really, why? The flip side is that too much time alone is a negative and you become selfish. The writer has to get out there and interact with their fellow human beings from time to time. Otherwise they’ll have nothing to write about.
KD: You have travelled a lot in your life so far, how has this influenced you as a writer?
JR: Travel has been a great influence on my writing and given it something of an international flavour. I was stabbed in the back outside a pub when I was a young man and coud’ve died. It was the impetus I needed to get on the road and see what was going on outside of East London. I’ve written extensively about my travels and my latest collection of poems – The Beach Poems, which is due out this summer, once again reflect these experiences.
KD: Tell me about your writing habits (use of notebooks, a writing room, cafes etc).
JR: Ha, my writing habits. It is of course a sickness. When starting out I used to carry this blue notebook around with me all the time. I wrote most of the Beach Poems in it. And then I lost the notebook and gave up writing for a few years. This barren spell was during my time spent living in Sydney, Australia. After that I didn’t use notebooks, and I’ve never gone to cafes to write. All I need is a table, a laptop, and four walls. And no views as they are a distraction I’ve just signed the contracts to second editions of four of my old books, which will soon be out on Bottle of Smoke Press. They are: The Cross, Last Days of the Cross, The Buddha Bar, and Where are the Rebels? I’ve also just completed my 8th Collection of poetry – Wolf Star – and a 4th collection of short stories – The Flowery Pot and Other Tales.
KD: It’s hot here isn’t it?
JR: Yeah, fancy a swim?
KD: Yes, why not, the water looks so cool and inviting?
JR: Let’s go!
Katie Doherty is a UK based poet and writer. You will find her either buried beneath books, wandering the countryside, dancing to Jimi Hendrix records or writing furiously in her journals whilst sipping tea or beer, whichever becomes available first.
Her poetry chapbook Your Black Opium is available from Paper and Ink Zine.