This year the IPRC’s Certificate Program awarded a fellowship to one student across the Program’s three genre-tracks. A student in the Poetry Certificate track, Lindsay Ruoff is our inaugural Fellow.
Lindsay Ruoff lives in Portland, Oregon where she writes poems, makes things, and teaches poetry and art classes with students at SUN Community Schools. She is the author of MOOD RING (2014) which is available to read, for free, through laruoff.tumblr.com.
Why poetry? What does it offer you that other art forms do not? And how did you get started writing it?
Poetry presents this opportunity to use words and language—most mundane and glossed-over of tools—diversely. I feel this is an important and empowering act because language can be a source of freedom as well as oppression. I'm interested in poems as experiments in the tangible effect of words upon people to become more free.
I think poetry starts, to some extent, with this fascination with 'writing something down'—what thing gets it? What were the first things? Maybe they are emblems or incantations, for ownership or protection, bridging between the personal and something else. When I was young I fixated on My Girl. I wrote my own name over and over again. Gradually, words came to me, I was writing things down. But I mean this in the least magical of ways.
Why not poetry? Do you write everyday? How does your life outside of the written word impact what happens when you do sit down to write?
I write small things down often, daily. I do not write a finished poem every day. I try to help kids write poems and make art, and I try to stay engaged in my own life, interests, activities, feelings, so as to be ready for words.
How do you define the term “poetry?” Does it have only one definition in your opinion? A million definitions?
Expanding (breaking?) communication with other people living and dead, with the self, with plants, with animals, with the familiar, with history, with laws, with advertisements, with violence, with morals, with gods. I think people conceive of poetry, recognize it, differently, and that (even unspoken) recognition is a kind of definition.
What about the IPRC’s certificate program enticed you? And how important is the IPRC and Portland’s literary community to your own work?
The IPRC is this amazing place that fosters a love of the word object, and the certificate program seemed to be an inviting opportunity to be open and develop ones own art within that kind of context. I am excited to study with Emily and to have peers. The scope of literary events in Portland, and often at the IPRC, wherein lovers of literature can go and hear and meet and buy the works of poets and writers, is for me invaluable