I had the opportunity to interview poet Adonis Richards of Schenectady, NY. Author of two books, Confessions of a Hopeless Creative and The Quarantine Chronicles. I was so moved by his poetry, I had to know what his process was.
Charley Bertolino: What is your writing process?
Adonis Richards: I spend a lot of time drawing up the concept, throwing it out there. Audre Lorde says it best, throwing out a stream of consciousness and then coming back into it and looking at it through a different lens. When it comes to poetry, it goes off of a feeling: throw out a stream of consciousness and figure out how to make different sounds, connect different words, put together different syllables. Let me throw paint at the wall and then condense it afterwards. Because I want the idea to come out before the concept is finished.
CB: How did you first start writing?
AR: It’s always been a part of me. My grandmother is my biggest inspiration. She was an English teacher. We read together; in her later years we shared writing together. That was what got me into writing. When I was finishing up my Master’s program, I had all these poems started. I decided I wanted to put them into a book. I have always had a passion for writing. My inspiration, actually, is that I want to inspire somebody else. I want to inspire someone else to become a writer. A lot of that had to do with my grandmother. I’ve always had a way with words and I have always wanted to help others express themselves through words. I think words are powerful. What you think is powerful. How you put it into the world is powerful. That, for me, is the most important thing. My inspiration is to inspire some young kid to become a writer, to chase their dreams or to become an adventurer.
CB: How did you want your readers to interact with the prompts?
AR: I wanted them to be restorative with themselves. A lot of my poetry is my own healing journey; I wanted them to take a second to be vulnerable with themselves. To reflect and to take time to understand themselves. To see through my lens and see through their lens. How do they interpret what’s going on? Art is the artist’s interpretation, but everyone feels it a different way. So, I wanted readers to take a step back and say, Oh, I can write in this, make this my own journey, and take what is being said and put it into my own words.
CB: Will there be more prompts in your next book?
AR: Yes, a lot of prompts. I have so many ideas for prompts. The first book was, I can do this. The second book was, Alright…I have more creativity. This third book? I’m really focussing in on reflection, vulnerability, and the want to open up with oneself.
CB: How did you come up with the titles?
AR: I did a lot of community work during the quarantine. I still do. I remember, I was talking to my mentor when I was thinking of The Quarantine Chronicles. He kept telling me, you’re an archivist for this moment; you’re writing down history. I thought, how am I putting this? I said Chronicle, Quarantine Chronicles. I’m chronicl everything I see in this moment and how I feel. When it comes to Confessions of a Hopeless Creative and my third book, Reflections of a Hopeless Creative, I remember trying to put together a title. I was talking to my best friend at the time. I had thought of the word requiem. My best friend said it doesn’t sound like it fits you and who you are. I kept thinking, I feel like I am hopeless when it comes to this creativity. I didn’t feel like my poetry was good enough. I sat down and said you know, these are my confessions, these are me. This is me confessing who I am to people. I use hopeless creative in a positive sense, because creativity is hopelessness to us. To me, it’s hopelessly creating every single day.
CB: You also added images to The Quarantine Chronicles. How did you come up with this idea?
AR: I wanted to feel like I was connecting with the people who were around me and inspiring me. I wanted the people I care about to be immortalized in the work that I had put together. Because they inspire me; they help me put out these projects.
CB: You also started Lucid Writers [an open mic series], what is your motivation and vision for it?
AR: My mantra with it is, Hear us loud and clear. I want those who have felt marginalized, those who feel like their voices haven’t been heard, to be heard. I don’t know where the title Lucid Writers came from; it was my Playstation user tag. I just didn’t know why, but it’s clear writing. Hear me loud and clear. I have always been a talker. People would always listen to me when I spoke, but I’ve always struggled with being concise. It really is just me trying to say, hear me loud and clear, hear my voice. Allow me to say how I feel, that’s where it comes from. I see us doing workshops, I see us inspiring folks to become writers and express themselves. I want people to feel comfortable sharing who they are, through spoken word, music, etcetera.
CB: Where would you say you’re at as a writer?
AR: I am a budding flower. I am finally accepting the sun and budding as a flower, when for so long I was so afraid of the light, and I sat in the shade. I am blooming and I am blossoming. I am accepting where I am at. I am finally proud of the writer I have become.
CB: You recently published a piece on grief. How did you want people to interact with that?
AR: I want folks to understand what grief does to you. I also want those who are dealing with grief to know that they are not alone, that this is a process you have to deal with. The people who you are grieving over loved you. They would want you to continue whatever you are doing, because that is what they loved you doing. I post a lot of positive experiences, but I am also dealing with this heavy amount of grief in this moment in time. I’m exposing folks to my own vulnerability, that I am human, I have chinks in my armor. I am able to be comfortable sharing that with everyone; and everyone else should be comfortable with sharing that as well.
CB: (I asked Mr. Richards a series of questions about editing, taking breaks and pushing through difficult emotions when writing)
AR: A lot of re-reading. It had a lot to do with trusting myself. Asking folks for guidance. Then when my grandmother gave me the final okay, I said, Alright. I definitely take a lot of breaks. I go through a lot of pain and trauma when I am writing so I need to take a step back and be okay with it. I am a Pokemon fan. I wrote a poem about Pokemon and about my journey through life, trying to be accepted. I have edited it several times. It’s a slam piece for me. After rehearsing it I cried, because it was such an emotional piece. I ride the emotion. I don’t try to fight it. I allow myself to feel what I am feeling because if I don’t, I won’t be able to get through the entire poem. I would be limiting myself by not allowing myself to feel. I wrote this because I felt a certain way and I want to feel that.
CB: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to get there as well?
AR: I wanted to be vulnerable with the pieces of myself that I didn’t love the most. So, for me it was just being okay with that I am not perfect, but I want to be the best person I possibly can be. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to feel like someone is not going to like what you write. Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s okay to be scared, but if you love this it’s okay to pursue it.
Adonis Richards’s new book, Reflections of a Hopeless Creative, will be available May 30, 2023. Through Lucid Voices, he hosts open mic poetry nights at least once a month. You can find out more by going to www.lucidvoices.org or follow them on Instagram @Lucidvoicesmovement.
The College of Saint Rose senior Charley Bertolino is an intern with The Hudson Valley Writers Guild
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