Rhonda Rosenheck reading at Collar City Mushrooms in Troy, NY

Building Capacity In Others: An Interview with Rhonda Rosenheck

By Willow Singletary

Rhonda Rosenheck answered the Zoom call on her phone while sitting in her car. She joked about living in her car, and instantly made the interview feel as if we were old friends catching up. Rhonda’s demeanor during the entire interview was caring and pleasant, and she seemed to be just as interested in engaging in a conversation with me as I was with her. Her down-to-earth spirit and experience as a writer made her the perfect candidate for me to learn from.

Willow Singletary: Are you good to start?

Rhonda Rosenheck: I’m good. I used to teach in five different places in the afternoons. I just lived in my car. My worst nightmare was showing up to the wrong place with the wrong books so I kept everything in my car. Years ago, I did everything in my car, so I’m used to it.

W: Okay. I wanted to ask you, what is your writing process? Do you have any rituals you do before you write or places you go?

R: Well if I – it’s different for different things – so if I want to just see what comes, I open my computer and open up a blank page. I just see what comes. A lot of my more observational poetry happens that way, if I’m setting aside the time to do it. A lot of times, if it’s coming to me I’ll take the Notes app on my phone and open it. I have a subfolder of Poetry. I’ll open it up and sit, and at least start something there. I’m not a very disciplined person. I need to capture it when it comes.

My favorite kind of places to write are places where I’m kind-of alone and kind-of not. The pandemic has been hard for that, but I love co-working spaces and I love coffee shops where you’re surrounded by other people who are doing their own thing. I’m trying to find places where even though I have to be alone there’s some form of a community, like going to a retreat center where you write by yourself but you might come together for the meals or you just simply might know that other people are in other cabins writing. That kind of positive peer pressure: other people are doing this, other people are focusing, so I’m going to focus. And I’m away from ordinary distractions.

Before computers and before cell phones, probably before you were born, I’d have to get in my car with a pen and paper, and drive minimally forty-five minutes away from my home to be far enough away where I couldn’t say to myself, “Oh you know, let me just get back and do this one errand.” Or, “Yeah, I’m done.” I have to physically remove myself from distractions to stay focused. Once I am, that can be really productive.

W: I’m the same. I can’t focus if I’m not forcing myself to do it, like far away. But, branching off of that question, you mentioned people watching, observing. Would you say people give you the most inspiration for your writing?

R: You’re asking very good questions. People – people being people – is definitely the thing that interests me most in life. I’m not a tinkerer, I’m not an artist with visuals. So I would say yes, but, in a slightly different way: I would say that people being people, and me reacting to that. There’s always a reflective element, right? So, even if my poetry simply describes what I’m watching, really what I’m doing is wondering how that reflects on me or makes me feel or lets me think. You know, [it] sort of opens up a door for me. I just recently wrote a poem that was almost just a complete transcription of something somebody said, and her opening sentence is the title of the poem. It’s something like “Whoever Thinks of a Hurricane Coming on Thursday Morning?” Then she told me this whole story about her three kids, how everybody’s on the Autism spectrum, everybody has a comfort bunny, and that she’s getting everybody downstairs and into the basement. The poem is that sentence that she said and this very, very terse thing about watching for danger and getting everybody safe from danger. On the surface, it looks like I’m really just describing her life. Of course, what I’m really doing is thinking about my own relationship to danger, and why that even struck me.

W: Right, that’s interesting….

R: Willow, I have this discussion with my mother, who’s a social worker. When she’s reading my poetry, or poetry by other people she knows, she looks at it as if it’s poetry therapy. She’s thinking, “Oh, what incident led her to say that?” or “What’s going on in her life?” or “I’m not sure what that means.” I had a conversation with her recently. Her brother, my uncle, is a visual artist—a painter and sculptor and such—and I said to her, Do you see your brother’s art as art therapy? And she says “Oh, it’s very therapeutic for him.” I said “But is that why he does art?” She said, “No, it’s a creative impulse.” I said, “Well, my art is also a creative impulse.” I do use the things I’m feeling, thinking, wondering about and experiencing as fodder for my creativity but, I’m really good at expressing myself when I’m upset or when I’m confused. I don’t have to write poetry in order to get at those things, so it’s a little bit different. It does reflect on me, but it’s not because it’s my only way into myself. It is a sort of loop: I take something in; I process it through myself; and I think, there’s something of value of it coming back out to others.

W: That’s very interesting. Personally, I’m not good at expressing myself. I can’t; I’m a very logical thinker, so if I know I’m sad I just think, “I’m sad.” I’m not good with crying or talking about it.  So, writing helps me break down those feelings. And it’s also similar to how you speak about it: It’s not expressing yourself, but are you digging deeper into the emotion itself?

R: Yes, and looking for something a little bit universal, right? Not consciously, but otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing a poem; I would be crying into my pillow or kvetching and moaning and groaning to my best friend or my mother. I am really good at that, so when I’m [writing a poem], I am trying to find the kernel of it.

I’ve been writing since I was a child, and I was a very frightened kid. [Writing] probably was a way for me to articulate things that I might be afraid to say to others. But, my career has been in education and I’m an aunt to blood nieces and nephews and many people who think of me as their auntie, and I think of them in that way. So I have this relationship with the world where I feel that the most likely thing for them to write on my tombstone would be “She built capacity in others.” I used to think that writing poetry was the only part of my life where that was not true, that it was the only part of my life not about building capacity in others.  What I’ve found over these last few years of writing full-time—I’m not a full-time writer but, writing is my primary creative/work experience—is that is actually what my poetry does. I am opening up worlds for others to see, and to wonder and to react against.

A lot of my poems have a little, kind of a shrug at the end. I might go all the way deep in and then come back up out a little bit with almost an aside to the audience, or a self-deprecating thing about what just came, or a shrug of verbal form. I think that that’s part of it: I never want to go so far that it is painful for somebody else, so if I approach the “so far,” I back up a little bit by the end. I think that is about other people, though I didn’t realize it until I began to do it. In the moment, I’m not consciously thinking, “How will this be read?” But, I’m also not thinking, “How will nieces and nephews perceive me” when I’m aunting them, you know? It’s not conscious. It feels like the thing to do, and then afterwards I might say, “This is part of who I am, and part of who I am is building capacity in others.” So, I think it is in the poetry too.

W: It’s a natural thing is what you’re saying? It comes naturally to do that.

R: Yeah. And it makes its way in.

W: So, speaking about things coming in naturally I wanted to ask you, do you think that your religion affects your writing deliberately or indirectly?

R: That was a great question. Mostly indirectly, but extremely strongly. I was so deeply shaped by my religious/family/community life, which was heavy with life values. The form of Judaism that I was raised in was filled with rituals, but the lessons, conversations and learning was not so much about the rituals, but about the values and the ethics, the history and what the history shows us, and how we’re supposed to be towards others. We should be that [kind] way anyway, but take a look at this history and you never want to be that [unkind] way to anybody else. It was always this mixture of religiosity and kindness. There was this concept of being a partner in creation with God: that you have a job here, and that is a part of your relationship with your Maker. The interesting thing is, I’m the only one in my family of origin with an actual belief in a personified type of God. The people who taught me all of this thought of it as a framework for values, and didn’t really believe there was a divine element. I started to have epiphanies, and a sense of an actual God who knows me, who has some consciousness of a greater level, and who directs me. If I attune well enough, I can find that direction like a tuning fork. I’m either on key or off key: that’s how I can tell whether I’m going in the exact right direction, or kind-of a right direction, or am completely off-base.

So mostly it’s indirectly, but I do find that a lot of my poetry goes back into the biblical texts, or back into rituals, with a skeptical eye, wondering whether the way this got transmitted is the only [way]. Did this get transmitted to me as the only way it should be? Or as even the way for me to use it for the best purpose? My particular education about the bible is that it is very robust and you can ask it anything and it won’t crumble. You can throw any kind of critique, any kind of method of study at it. You don’t have to be afraid, you don’t have to be so reverent and respectful that you can’t dig into it. In fact, it’s meant to be dug into periodically, by different generations in different ways. So I test that with a kind of snarkiness for starters. I have a book that’s at a publisher right now called the “Five Books of Limericks”, where I have taken every chapter of the Five Books of Moses and written a limerick. Like that English class lesson they give you in reading comprehension, where you read something and they ask you to write a subtitle, right?

W: Yeah.

R: What did you get out of it, right? I’ve studied this material with so many different commentators and so many different scholars but this time I sat on my couch, I read a chapter, I wrote a limerick, I read a chapter, I wrote a limerick, I read a chapter, I wrote a limerick. It was weirdly compelling, it came very easily, and it was unmediated by anybody else’s beliefs about what I should be seeing there.

I took the book of Jonah. We read the book of Jonah on Yom Kippur, the Day of Fasting and the end of the period of Atonement because he was an unwilling prophet. He didn’t want to do what God wanted him to do. God had to put him through all of these things to get him to say “Fine, I’ll go to Nineveh!” But weirdly enough, he is also the only one-hundred-percent successful prophet anywhere in the bible. He is the only one who actually accomplishes what he set out to accomplish, which is, Nineveh had to stop sinning. And to his absolute disbelief, he said “You have to stop sinning,” and they said “Oh, my gosh! We have to stop sinning. We’re no longer sinning.” And they lived by it. He was completely confused by that, and felt that it was even kind of a trick that God was playing on him, because obviously they couldn’t have been such sinners if they just turned around. Nobody does that! He didn’t even believe it, once it happened. So, he’s an interesting character to me. I’m very sensitive to people who want to be seen as prophets, because the only really successful one was the most reluctant one. And so the year before last, around Yom Kippur I wrote on Facebook, “You know it would make a good sea shanty.” [Shanties] were the equivalent of, and actually the cousins of slave work songs and spirituals. What’s the music that’s going to get these unwilling workers to work together, pull together, and get a really difficult task done at once? And here’s the unwilling prophet and it’s all about being on the sea. So, to the tune of Drunken Sailor, I wrote the story of Jonah. It started out as a silly idea, but really is just a different lens. It turns out not really silly. That happens to me a lot. That’s intentional. I’m taking my traditions, my beliefs and what I’ve learned about where our permissions are with studying [sacred texts]. And I poke at them to see what else I can learn.

W: You were talking about prophesying specifically, but in a way, most people that have gifts and they’re the best at it, don’t usually want to do those things. Do you remember the time that you decided to write?

R: Wow. I was really young. It was always…, I dream in words. My dreams, even if they’re visual, have voiceovers. It’s crazy. I see in words. I don’t know who I would be without language. I remember distinctly not liking to read, and I remember what changed that, but I don’t remember ever not liking to write. In fact, when I didn’t like to read, and we were up to reading chapter books, I would read [only] the first paragraph of every chapter and piece together a book report that made perfect sense to the teacher. Nobody ever caught me at it. So, there was something about taking a little bit of something and filling in the blanks with my own thinking. And having it work!

I had no objection to writing, but I will tell you a different thing which is, I thought I would write. I thought that this was my path, my creative path. I had, in my first year of college, a teacher who agreed with me. [He] really pressed me and felt that this was absolutely the path for me, and that the world would be bereft if I didn’t pursue poetry. I was in a community college my first year, and he pushed me to go to a college with a creative writing program. I got into that creative writing program. The primary teacher of that creative writing program hated my poetry. Hated it. Just hated anything I produced. We clashed as people. I didn’t take well to her form of critique. We would sit around a seminar table and she would critique somebody until they were in tears. I would sit there and say, “You’re never making me cry.” I got tossed out of the creative writing program. And, even though part of me understood that this was as much a matter of her personality as it was anything else, still, it completely diverted me. That was the end of me thinking I would write for others to read. I went a completely different career path. During that career path, I wrote newsletters and curriculums and letters to parents and the occasional little ditty for somebody. But I did not write creative writing for thirty-three years. Then when I stopped, I thought I would write detective stories because that’s what I loved most to read. Only, poetry was coming out instead of detective stories. I realized the impulse to write poetry had not died, even though any confidence I had that I was supposed to write poetry died in my second year of college.

W: Well, there was one question I was going to ask you and you sort of answered it but, just to dig deeper into what you’re saying: Why poetry? Why not detective stories?

R: I don’t think I can plot things out. I think that’s one of the reasons. One of the areas of poems I write, mostly for fun, is crime poems. And they’re mostly poems of revenge. There’s a crime happening in it, and when you learn why that crime is happening you kind of thumbs-up the person doing the current crime. It’s a lot about women not being abused anymore: “That’s the one last time you’re going to abuse me,” and things like that. I think that the reason I could enjoy detective fiction, almost indiscriminately, is I never know what’s happening until they tell me. I did try. I created a detective and a sidekick character, and I really loved them, they were really good. I started to write some short stories with them, and it would get to a point where I would drive around for three weeks saying, “Well, how the heck would she have known that?” I had my detective detecting something, and I couldn’t figure out how she would know it! I’m just not good at that plotting of things or at least yet.

What poetry allows me to do is use the story. My poems are very narrative, most of them, but what I’m doing instead of using words to tell the narrative is using the narrative to tell a kernel of an idea. I’m being reductionist, bringing an idea down to its most, aha! The thing where you go “Aha!” in a story: that’s what I’m trying to bring it down to. That, I can do. I was at a women’s writing retreat at Pyramid Lake, it’s a retreat center of the Diocese of Albany. There’s a women’s writing retreat there. In my first year, I had a poetry teacher and a narrative teacher. They ganged up at me at lunch one day and said, “First of all, you can say you’re a writer. You don’t have to give your entire biography and then say, “… and now I write.” You’re a writer. Second of all, if the poems come, let the poems come; if the stories are going to come, they’ll come.” They put to rest the sense that I should …, I always have a feeling that the thing that’s harder to do is the thing I should be doing, and the thing that comes naturally to me is less valuable. They put that to rest. They allowed me to say, “I’m a writer, and mostly, I’m a poet.” That was the weekend I started to write the crime poems. That’s also the point [when I came to believe] that if poetry comes somewhat naturally to me, that probably means I’m a poet. Sorry, I don’t know what I’m touching here.

W: Wow. You answered a lot of my questions but, going back to being tossed out, did it change the way you view writing? Being a writer? Being in the English field? Did it discourage you?

R: It discouraged me a lot. I still don’t have any expectation that I will ever have any living from writing, or have any monetary value or even any broad distribution of my work. It’s completely out of my imagination. It discouraged me completely. [The encouraging instructor] once said to me, “Someday I’m going to try to make an appointment to see you,” which meant, “You’re going to be a well-known writer; you’re going to have some measure of fame.” That was itself surprising to hear, but my first college-level professor was saying that to me, so there must be some truth to it, right? And the next one conveyed, “You really suck at this. Why did I let you into the program? Out you go.” She booted me out of the program.

I think the thing I would want you to know as an earlier writer, somebody in a position I was in back then, is that I gave so much more credence to the wisdom and expertise of people older than I was. If somebody older than me said something was true, I presumed it was true. It was particularly so if they were male also. You know male and older than me? That was like “daddy,” and “daddy” knows everything. It took me a very long time to recognize—even now I struggle with it—if somebody is older than I am and says something, I have to take a deep breath and give myself enough credit to think that they might not actually be more right than I am. A couple of people since I’ve moved to Albany have been real role models for me, in that they’re younger and have learned that [lesson] sooner. I don’t know if you know Danielle Colin, D. Colin is her poetry name.

W: Yeah, I know who you’re talking about.

R: She’s my poetry hero. I don’t even really know her well at all, but at some point she said, “I’m going to make my living as a poet and as a writer and as an artist, and I’m going to figure out how to do it.” And she did. And I’ve got to guess, some people sometimes said, “Hmmmmmm?” to her. She did it anyway. There’s a young man that I also met, Adonis…Richards I think is his last name (don’t quote me on his last name). He did the same thing. “I give myself X number of years to make my living as a writer somehow.” And he’s doing it. I know an artist who did the same thing and just sort of leapt from having a day job, and doing his art at night, to doing it [full time]. I would not have had the courage to do that unless an older person said to me, “Yes! You can and should do this, right now.” On my own, I wouldn’t have believed that I could. It didn’t even register, didn’t even dawn on me that I could. It wasn’t like I thought I could and then I thought I couldn’t: It didn’t even dawn on me that I could, once I was told I couldn’t.

I’m not sorry in any way for the career path I took but, I do regret that I didn’t so much make that decision on my own, to leave writing for something else. I simply assumed that somebody else was correct about my level of talent: that it wasn’t enough.

W: Right. So that goes into the question I was going to ask, if you had any advice for aspiring writers. Would you say that’s your advice?

R: That’s my advice. Have role models, definitely. As you get older, some of them are younger than you, too, not just older than you. But, don’t presume. If you have something in your gut and somebody is telling you otherwise, I would say don’t be locked into either believing them or completely disbelieving them.

That’s my problem. My problem is, I either completely rebel against something—I don’t like to be told what to do—but if somebody tells me [how things are], for some reason I completely accept [it]. If they tell me what to do, I rebel. If they tell me what is, I believe them. Those two things haven’t helped me. Better if somebody tells me what to do, to use my own judgment and hear what they’re saying, and maybe wonder why I should do this differently and maybe not. But not just completely rebel against it. And when somebody tells me how the world is, I should remember that person is not this person [me]. That person has a perspective and perhaps even an agenda. Even if they don’t have an agenda, they have a different perspective.

I’ll tell you another example of when was wrong. Every time I went into a new community as an educator, there would be somebody there who would introduce me to the world of the community. They would lay out the political landscape and the expertise landscape through their own lens of who functions well and who is well-liked. It took me several of those transitions to realize, I can take it in, set it aside, and not let it color my impressions as I meet these people. I don’t have to be naïve, but I also don’t have to see the situation through the glasses somebody else hands me. It took me a lot time to recognize that.

So my advice to you would be to really try to tell when somebody’s giving you advice or shaping your future in some way. Listen to them, but don’t presume either that they’re right because of who they are or that they’re wrong because of who they are. See if you can take it, set it aside, and use it, but not be consumed by it.

W: Thank you. Thank you for that advice.

R: You’ll be better off. And I’ll tell you another thing. As a young African-American woman, it’s going to happen to you a hell of a lot more even than it happens to me. So really, really pay attention not to assume that other people are right about you.

W: Thank you for that advice. Did you want to talk about your Tiny House Writers Retreat?

R:  I have a weird obsession with just tiny houses and yurts. And I don’t know why, it’s like a hobby. I always look at these things. I couldn’t belong to a co-working space anymore because of COVID, and I realized I probably never will at this point in my health and with my partner’s age and health issues. Now that I know something like COVID can happen, I’m probably never going to feel comfortable sitting around a table with twelve people I don’t know, sitting at my computer for twenty-seven hours. If you recall, I can’t easily be home and working, because it inspires me not to work. So I decided to have a writing studio that has some sort of communal element and is still solitary. I have this little piece of property through the [Albany County] Land Bank. I got the planner of Cohoes to work with me. I said look, I’d like to put a little free library at the front of this property, which are those boxes along the sidewalks where you exchange books.

W: Yeah.

R: And make a reading garden, and make that a public area. That’s across the street from a playground, so it could be a nice little addition to the playground. In the back, I would put a tiny house as a writing studio. I would share it with others, but not at the same time. Either maybe, when it opens, local people will be out there every Tuesday, and somebody else is there on Wednesdays, or something like that. Or, sometimes have people come and use it as a writing retreat for a weekend or a week. Something like that. It’s called the Poet’s Perch and Yamar Carter of Yamaguchi is going to make the sign. Dana Owens, who was the artist I told you about who leapt over into art full-time, he has already drawn the logo. Yamar is going to burn the wood [sign] for me when I’m ready. It’s been a communal thing. The City of Cohoes is already looking at these little free libraries; their city council decided to put them in parks. Because of my project, they’re not putting one in this park. Mine is going to be the one for this park. So it’s exciting to me because it’s a way to have solitude, it’s a way to be twenty-five minutes away from home so, in a sense far enough away to not be drawn back into the distractions, and it’ll be a nice, aesthetic environment. Very simple but also have a communal area. I’m not an educator anymore, but I can create a garden where a kid and a parent or two kids can pull a book out and read. One of the libraries is going to be up at adult level and one of them is going to be down at kid level, so that the kids can pick their own books. And maybe have some relationship with the elementary school or the middle school in the area, and have some poetry stuff. I don’t know. I have little strength, and I know I want to do some things with the community there, so that’s the idea. I can write in solitude but still have it be a point of connection to others in the community.

W: That just gave me a new question…

R: And you can borrow it and use it! So when it’s there, you remind me and you’ll get a hundred percent discount or something.

W: Thank you.

R: It’s going to have a kitchen and have a number of different places you could sit and get comfy, if you like to recline or sit at a desk, and I’m going to have a printer in there. So it’s really being set up as a place for writers.

W: Well it’s like a writer’s dream though, to have like a place they can go to and write.

R: I know!

W: Yeah, that sounds really cool.

R: And it’s on wheels, so if I have to move I could take this with me. So this is an indulgence of my lifetime, because I will have this, whether it’s in my backyard or on another piece of land, or there. I will always have it.

W: It’s right there, the question…. Okay, I’ve got it. In level of importance, where would you place community for writers over your individuality?

R: It’s an odd thing, right? You have to write in solitude. Writing is such a solitary environment. You have to be in your own head. You have to tune out what’s immediately around you, somehow, to do your work. Some writers can be hermits and write forever. I think of Emily Dickinson …

W: I think towards the end of her life she was a hermit.

R: Exactly! That can be writing. But others have to find ways to balance things out. A lot of the writers I know do it through writing conferences and retreats and seminars, where they get together with other writers. They can be engaged that way. Some of us have other jobs that connect us. Some of us do it by being engaged in communal efforts that are not necessarily about writing but keep us connected, so that there’s some balance there. It’s pretty lonely to write, even if you’re compelled to do it. Not everything you’re compelled to do is easy to do. So even if you feel compelled to write, it’s lonely, it’s anxiety producing. God forbid you actually want to publish something you’ve written. You’ve got to be rejected twenty-seven times, at least, before anything is accepted. You have to rejoice in rejection in order to ever be accepted. It can be grinding in that way. So, most of us have to balance it with some sense of communal engagement. I don’t remember- there was somebody else, maybe a French author? He had a family. They lived on a farm and the rest of the family did the farming while he slept all morning. Woke up around midday, spent the afternoon and the evening with his family. Then they all went to sleep and he wrote through the night. Then slept through the morning when they went out and did the chores, and then spent the afternoon…. Everybody finds their own balance. So how do you find that solitude? And how do you engage with others so that you don’t go mad?

W: Do you have a favorite poem that you wrote?

R: Yes! It’s tiny, and it is my favorite poem that I wrote. Let’s see.

(Rhonda is searching her digital files while we continue to talk.)

R: Willow, what’s your major?

W: English but, I’m a minor in Creative Writing and Psychology.

R: Beautiful. When I was at SUNY Binghamton I ended up graduating with a degree in Literature and Rhetoric, with a concentration in Journalism. Literature and Rhetoric was interesting. The Rhetoric was really Journalism with a few exceptions. So half of my teachers were telling me that I have to fill out my writing; that I leapt from concept to concept. The other ones were taking a red pen and telling me I was writing too much! So I learned how to write differently for different people, because in order to please those professors I had to learn how to write differently for them.

Here it is! It’s called- You ready?

W: Ready.

R: Okay. It’s called “Something Whole”:

Succulent red flesh
Of watermelon drenches
My mouth and quenches
The urge I feel to devour,
Down to green rind, something whole.

W: Oh, I love that.

R: I’ll put it in the notes for you.

W: I had a professor this semester tell me that the best poems, in her opinion, are the ones that are full of imagery.

R: Yeah.

W: And I read your other poem- I think it is “Sweet Things”?

R: Yes.

W: Your writing is so immersive that even though you said poetry is sort of like a “blip” thing that you do, I had to reread it three times because I was so into it, that I didn’t get the whole picture. Your imagery in your writing is so immersive, you really feel like you’re tasting, or smelling whatever you’re describing.

R: Oh, thank you. You know what that second professor told me? That my writing wasn’t visual enough. I was kicked out because my writing wasn’t visual! So thank you.

W: I have just one more question for you. What do you want the people who read this interview to know about you? What do you want them to take from it?

R: That’s a good question. I think I am almost equally torn between caring a lot about people—caring supremely—about people and caring about ideas. I move between those two things. I went to graduate school after many years; I was tired of school, I wanted to be in the work world. When I [finally] went to graduate school, I found that it was the environment where I could be the two things I craved being: overtly kind and overtly intellectual. I didn’t have to hide either. I didn’t have to protect myself from a world that, maybe, didn’t value one or the other of those. So I think that is who I am and that it plays out in my writing. I also show almost no sense of humor here, but I am kind of a goofy person too. And that does show up in my writing sometimes, even in that little shrug. It’s self-deprecating humor usually. On the serious side of me being filled with ideas and filled with care for humans and others…, I really care about humans. I care about kids getting what they need and growing into who they can be. I am not naïve, but meanness still really surprises me. I’m not hardened to it, because I don’t get it. If somebody wants to know me, they probably should know that I care about kindness and ideas a lot.

W: I think that’s a great answer.

R: For a poet? Better for an educator’s interview?

W: Well, for anyone to be honest.

R: Thank you.

W: I really did enjoy speaking with you. I have to say, you are one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. I really enjoyed your answers and I really do enjoy your writing. Thank you for taking the time out today to do this interview with me. I really appreciate it.

Rhonda Rosenheck is an amazing writer and teacher. She is able to take what she’s experienced, turn it into art, and offer help to those coming behind her. She’s as open about her failures as she is about her wins. Rhonda is a refreshing individual to speak with. I hope this interview showcased just that.

Learn more about Rhonda at https://www.rhondarosenheck.com and about the Poet’s Perch at https://www.tinyhouse-writersretreat.com/.