First Interview - 1990

Writing and poetry
From the 1990's

by Richard Van Ingram

Originally Published in Degenerate Digest, Copyright 1990/2002 Degenerate Press, Atlanta, GA

Degenerate Digest: There are many poets here in Atlanta and among the least known of them is Richard Van Ingram. And since we don't have access to anyone else to interview for this issue, we're going to talk with him for awhile.

Richard Van Ingram: Yeah, thanks.

DD: So, why do you write poetry?

RVI: Why do sewers carry shit?

DD: Because it smells better somewhere else?

RVI: Probably. I throw a lot of things out of myself in writing poems‚ mostly bad things, dark feelings.

[DD: RVI is drinking Crawford's scotch from the bottle; he is pretty drunk by this point in the interview... in fact, we couldn't get him to talk without buying him the liquor.]

DD: Does it work? I mean, do these bad things go away after you write?

RVI: Sometimes for a while. Sometimes they come back. Sometimes they get worse.

DD: What's your best memory from childhood?

RVI: Becoming an adult.

DD: Seriously, smartass‚ what's your favorite memory from being a kid?

RVI: Well, I did like riding my bike around the back streets of Dahlonega... that was before the place started to get overrun by people "escaping" Atlanta. And I liked the woods in autumn and the feeling I could just go anywhere without permission... it's like I didn't have any concept of private property back then. No one cared if you walked across their pasture usually.

[Compiler's Note: Dahlonega was the small mountain town in Northeast Georgia that RVI was born and raised in. We understand it was a small place, pretty oppressive for anyone who wasn't into sports, cars, chewing tobacco, or coon huntin'.]

DD: Any friends there? As a kid, I mean.

RVI: A couple. Almost all of us lost touch after high school or soon thereafter... I went to college; they got married or joined the military or went to work or got really stoned.

DD: Girlfriends?

RVI: No comment.

DD: Why?

RVI: Read my poems and stories.

DD: It seems like women have given you some trouble over the years.

RVI: Umm hmm. Like you don't know.

[Compiler's Note: Five years later RVI would be divorced. Truth is, he probably gave them (women) as much trouble as he received.]

DD: What do you want to be when you grow up?

RVI: Where'd you get these questions? What do you mean "what do I want to be when I grow up?"

DD: Humor me. I did buy you that bottle.

RVI: Yeah, OK. Right now I'm working on philosophy... maybe I'll be a philosophy instructor for money and become a philosopher and write books on great ideas. Solve insoluble problems, create new ones. Learn about life from the point of view of theoryÖ.

DD: Alright already. That was plenty. But what about the Fine Art degree you've been working on for six years?

RVI: I'm about to finish with that.

[Compiler's Note: RVI did finish his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking in '91 and went on to receive a Master of Arts in Philosophy in '93, both at GSU in Atlanta; he became a PhD candidate in Philosophy at UGA in Athens for one year before dropping out when his son was born... and when it became apparent nearly no one at UGA was interested in the same things he was.]

DD: You ever read your poetry anywhere? Publish it?

RVI: Nope. I just hide it in a filing cabinet.

DD: How do you expect to get anywhere with it if you don't share it with anyone?

RVI: I figure, if that stuff in that thing doesn't burn or get wet, the way universities are run now, some history major is going to have a field day with my notes and things... a firsthand account of a life at the end of 20th century America. And along the way, if there are any good poems in there, they'll get discovered.

DD: Not worried about recognition while you're alive?

RVI: Well, yeah, but it's pretty unlikely, right? Takes money to get your stuff out to enough people to even have half a chance at finding your audience... and I don't have any money.

[Compiler's Note: RVI was working as a picture framer while being a full-time student; his wife worked at a low-level job in an industrial bank. All money went to rent, cars and train fare, food, and tuition, as far as we can tell.]

DD: An artist with no money. Imagine that.

RVI: Yeah. Imagine that.


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