Welcome back faithful reader to yet another Empty Chair Interview. I know it’s been a while, but let’s face it; you didn’t really notice, did you?
Today I’m interviewing another of Bantaa91’s fantastic contributors, Brittany Rickard.
Brittany distinguishes herself with her particular style of poetry which this writer happens to have it on good authority is a particular favourite of his patented overlord’s…
I meet Brittany down at the ol’fishin hole AKA: outside Wal-Mart. Why here, I hear you ask? Because we’re in the USA today and this is the quintessential American setting!
I greet Brittany and she welcomes me to her home country with a hotdog and can of Dr Pepper. Then we take a seat next to one of those sweet kiddie rides with a red and white striped flag emblazoned on the front – MERICA!
Let’s do this thing…
“When did you first become interested in writing?”
I have actually been writing for as long as I can remember. My childhood was, without becoming too detailed, less than fairy tale. I used writing as an outlet throughout most of my life. The earliest I recall writing a poem or song was when I was about six years old, so basically as soon as I could pick up a pen. I was usually praised for my writing by many teachers through school which encouraged me to continue.
Until a few years ago, I rarely showed anyone my work; I kept it all online where it could be found only by strangers (thankfully as some of my first poems were embarrassingly awful). Now I show my work to many people hoping they can relate to it as well.
OMG I can totally relate to that! I hi-five Brittany while scoffing down a sloppy joe and reminisce about my own introduction to writing.
“What is your typical source of inspiration?”
I tend to write when I am feeling very overwhelmed with emotion. Unfortunately this tends to happen when I am sad. Once in a while however, I am inspired by life events or reflections I have. My life tends to be a constant roller coaster and writing gives me the outlet I need so desperately. I also suffer with a few forms of mental illness and have been encouraged to use writing by therapists and organizations.
I’m basically a psychotic delusional whose episodes of euphoria and depression inspire intense pieces when I’m not going through dry spells where my brain decides to give up and not give out much more poetry than a discarded potato.
I often advocate for certain groups and hope to write a book of poetry one day for people suffering the same or similar afflictions. My intensity of emotion tends to help me convey my poetry in a way that people tend to relate to, although it can negatively affect my day to day life. I like to think of poetry as the silver lining to my condition.
Discarded potatoes aside, hers sounds like all too familiar back-story. You show me a decent poet, and I’ll show you a half-mad basket case from Milwaukee.
“How would you describe your style?”
Oh god, what a question.
I know, right!
Maybe like if you rewrote the same piece 72 times and each time only changed a word or sentence and then decided to trash the entire thing because nothing is ever good enough. Why are you even trying anymore at this point? Is it even realistic or is it a waste of time and you’ll end up dropping it eventually because if you can’t be perfect at something, why bother?
And then it hits you, and you finally feel inspired and throw away all 72 copies of what you already wrote, then write the same thing phrased differently and finally let it be. Also, I mostly like to keep things real and relatable. I don’t enjoy very pretentious or wordy poetry. I like it when things flow nicely yes, but mostly I just want my words to pack a punch.
I want the reader to imagine, or even feel what I am feeling when I write. I think my audience tends to be people of my age ranging slightly older or younger, so I like to keep the vocabulary understandable while still holding all of the emotion. I think if you can pack the most meaning into the fewest words you can it tends to resonate and impress more.
In honour of that sentiment, I have just word to say: microwave.
“Have you experimented with other art forms?”
I am an excessively artistic person, who is excessively bad at every other art form.
I don’t let that stop me however. I enjoy writing music. It’s basically just adding music to poetry so I maybe I’m just extending that talent. I also make chalk art. I love it but it does tend to leave quite a mess. As much as I love art those are the only other categories I tend to dabble in, unless you want to talk about fine arts like theater. I am the biggest theater dork you’ll ever meet; totally obsessed!
Sign me up for theater-holics anonymous because it honestly becomes a problem sometimes. My friends are very sick of all the constant show tunes. I’m sensing an intervention at any moment. In fact I used to compete for theater and even won a Shakespeare contest back in the day.
“I understand you have done quite a bit of travelling around the United States. Could you tell us a bit about your adventures?”
Hello, my name is impulsive and that alone stemmed the majority of my travels. In a rough spot after high school, I moved to Alaska the moment I turned 18. I told my mother I was moving out and hopped on a plane to go work in Juneau for a tourist shop on the docks.
While I was there I met a girl who I fell head over heels for, which was a shock to everyone including me.
I knew I still had a lot to learn about myself but the whole ‘Surprise you’re gay (bi)!’ thing was not what I was expecting. Although this discovery was good for my self exploration, it was a very, very bad and abusive relationship.
It began like a storybook with adventures and romance and crazy happenstance. We climbed mountains and raced through the forest arms wide standing up through the sunroof in the car with the northern lights above us. Then things went south and without the gory details, she made many enemies very quickly which led to us hopping from state to state.
First was Arizona, then Alaska again, road tripping through the entire Midwest, then with her family in Minnesota which was a beautiful state but with terrible people. When I finally left her after years of intense abuse, I moved to Washington. I loved Washington very much and I worked for a campground right outside of Mt. St. Helens, but I was very broken and decided to come back home which is where I have been ever since, in Tucson, Arizona.
As much as I might like to, I’m afraid I can’t poke fun at any of those places being as I’m not familiar with their respective stereotypes, but Minnesota sounds like a bit of a shit hole, yeah?
“What’s the craziest story you can share?”
I am full of intense stories and they’re definitely my forte, but to pick just one is quite hard. I could start by saying I was raised in a cult (true story); I could tell you any of the dramas from my previously mentioned relationship; I could tell you about my spiritual experiences with ghosts and what not, or about my family’s deep connection with the Freemasons. However, I think I’ll keep it humorous to lighten things up a bit.
While staying in the mental facility in Juneau, I met a man there who was suffering a delusional episode and thought that he was in fact, Jesus Christ.
I was frightened at first but I will tell you that this man was the nicest person I have ever met (although he had an optimistic stance on drugs that I feel Jesus may have disagreed with). He burst through the hospital doors in his hospital gown on Halloween and announced to the entire day room that he was
“Jesus Christ comes to you, dressed as a mortal in the spirit of Halloween!”
He sat next to me mumbling nonsense and biblical things I couldn’t grasp. This man single-handedly got me through that visit by making me laugh (even if unintentionally). He asked me what I would change about the world if I could and put on the spot I said generically that I would end world hunger. He replied:
“Yes that’s a good one. I would take every person who has ever abused a child and MURDER THEM!”
A nurse walking by at that moment interjected ‘SETH!’ and he straightened up in his chair and loudly corrected himself
“BUT I AM NOT GOING TO DO THAT, BECAUSE…THAT WOULD BE BAD.”
I actually had to leave my chair trying to contain my laughter. There were other moments as well. During group therapy about safe sex, we went around in a circle discussing the dangers of impulse. We were asked to give an example of unsafe sex, meaning without protection. Seth answered:
“With knives or on top of a skyscraper.”
I mean, he wasn’t wrong and all humor aside, he walked the halls with me every day asking if I was any better and helping however he could. He was the sweetest man I have ever met and yet is probably judged by all his peers for his illness. Sadly, once he came out of his episode he remembered nearly nothing of our friendship. I still speak to him now and then over social media though.
“Is it true that you believe in ghosts?”
I believe in much more than ghosts; there are many different dimensions all with different kinds of spirits. The spirit world is so much more than just ghosts; its guides and past influences too. I feel that the more in tune I am with my spiritual self, the more centered my life will be overall.
Well, shit. Sorry I asked…
I am very sensitive to energies, and not just those of our ghostly friends but also of people too. I read auras and believe a person’s aura has a huge impact on how others view or feel about them. Although my hectic lifestyle distracts me from my spirituality often, I do enjoy finding time for it when I can.
“Have you ever seen one?”
Have I seen a ghost? HA! I have had very many run-ins with otherworldly beings. Many of them were very unwanted at the time, however there was a time when my hobbies included ghost hunting.
Alright, I think that might be enough. Thanks dear readers for…
I was not raised to believe in ghosts. The whole reason I changed my beliefs so drastically is because in high school I began to have eerie experiences in my bedroom.
…for stopping by. Stay tuned for another Empty Chair Interview featuring…
To this day I am not sure what caused the excessive spiritual activity in that room; perhaps there was some sort of portal was open. I am not an expert although I love looking into these things.
…featuring a very special surprise guest.
What I do know is I would often awaken in the middle of the night from things grabbing my legs and balloons from my birthday would bob around the room when there was no air flow.
Our interview finally ends as the clock strikes two, signally Ronald Reagan’s cue to mosey on by wielding an American flag and a submachine gun atop a velociraptor in typical conservative style…
– Empty Chair Interviews