This coming Thursday, March 14, at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza local poet R.M. Engelhardt will be launching his brand new book, The Resurrection Waltz, with a special reading and a performance by Murrow (Thom Francis and Keith Spencer). R.M. has been a a big part of the local poetry scene for over 20 years. In that time he has hosted many open mics and events including Saint Poem, The School of Night, Ghost in the Machine, VoX, LISTEN, and P.R.O.P.A.G.A.N.D.A.. His works has been published in Retort, Rusty Truck, Sure! The Charles Bukowski Newsletter, Thunder Sandwich, The Boston Literary Review, Full of Crow, Fashion For Collapse, 2nd Avenue Poetry, and right here on AlbanyPoets.com.
We recently sat down with Rob to talk to him about the book and some upcoming projects.
Albany Poets: Congratulations on the new book. How many does this make for you now?
R.M. Engelhardt: The Resurrection Waltz is actually my 13th book of poetry.
The other 12 books I have put out there in the world over the last twenty years or so have mostly been DIY chapbooks as well as a few other books (The Night, A Story About A Certain Mr. Drake, Versus, as well as, Versus~Lexikon), which have been sold on Scribd via in e-book downloadable form only. The sad part about e-books however (at least in my opinion) is that a book should be something solid and to be held in the hands, and most importantly READ! A book is not only a story or a selection of poems, but should be considered a form, a work of art.
AP: What was the process in putting the book together?
RM: With Resurrection it simply went like this: I wanted to use (mind you for the first time) a professional publishing firm so I could get my work out there into places & markets in which chapbooks are not allowed (Amazon and Barnes & Noble for example) as well as on Powell’s Books and other websites where I’d get more exposure and attention given to by a larger reading audience. And so far, it’s most definitely paid off. For this book, a paperback, I wanted to create something new. So my decision was to go back over my new work as well as some of the poems and experimental prose pieces which have been published in literary journals either in print or online and to re-create, resurrect them so to speak in a different shape or form. I went through many rewrites of them and edited much more than in the past in order to find what I refer to as “The Voice” which is mainly the emotion … the feeling that I was attempting to invoke when each poem was read either mentally or out loud from the page.
AP: Where you trying to tell a story?
RM: The Resurrection Waltz is divided up into two parts. The first part, the waltz itself so to speak, mostly contains narrative pieces which address a great many things in life, the world, subjects in my own personal life but also is made up of a lot of the same questions which I think constant poets & writers ask themselves from time to time or even everyday: Why do I do this? Why do I even bother to write? And where is all of this heading in the end? The main narrative, theme of “The Resurrection Waltz” is that we keep writing, keep trying and keep sharing our work with others because no matter what this is who we are and what we poets do, and other poets will continue to do long after we are just the bones and dust. You see, the thing that I realized after all these years was that we are all, for the better part, poets and storytellers. The poem is the real story of humanity & what it is to be human. The religions, the myths we create, all of these things that repeat throughout history and inspire us to live. The pieces “Saint Poem” and “A World On Fire” address all of those things. After all, it’s the words that are the all and the nothing, and it’s the poem that saves you.
The second part of the book, “13 Verses” has a little something different poetry wise of sorts. Many of these poems have been adapted from some of my previously mentioned e-books and are only what I can refer to as a “new direction” and a different voice. Me, the poet and writer only acting as a channel or translator in a way and following the voice where it leads. To me they seem to read almost as “experimental psalms” when asked to describe them.
AP: What do you have planned for the book launch next week?
RM: There will be a reading of my poems from the new book following a reading-performance by the spoken word team of Murrow all happening between 7 and 9pm. This is going to be a great evening of poetry and there will be refreshments as well.
AP: We got an email about a new reading series you are starting next month. The name sounded familiar.
RM: Yes, After it’s long & local hiatus “The School Of Night Open Mic For Poets & Writers” will be returning on the 2nd Thursday night of each month to The Pearl Street Pub & Dirty Martini Lounge on North Pearl Street in downtown Albany and we are going to be featuring the voices of poets/writers in a great new atmosphere of “noir at the bar”. This event is sponsored by The Literary Rogue magazine based here in Albany, NY and there will be a $3.00 donation requested. The first night of this event (April 11th, 2013) will be for everyone without a feature and old school open mic. I’ll be hosting … and probably drinking too.
AP: What next?
RM: As for my plans for the future? Projects literarium? There will be another book coming. A novel. Or perhaps even a play. I haven’t decided just yet.
AP: Thanks for sitting down with us and chatting about the new book Rob. We will see you on Thursday at The Book House.
For more information about The School of Night, The Literary Rouge, and the man himself, be sure to head over to rmengelhardt.com. The book launch event will take place on Thursday, March 14 (Pi Day!) at The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, 1475 Western Ave, Albany, New York