Writer Profile: Interview – Miriam Ruff

Everyone has a story to tell; each one of us writes poetry – some, without even realising. That stream of consciousness that runs in our veins? It’s poetry waiting to be written. We believe in the power of words, and that power is what urged us set up PoetsIN.

It’s because of those inner streams, that we are bringing you all a regular interview feature, Writer Profiles. An interview with a writer. This week it’s the fabulous Miriam Ruff.

Sit back, grab yourself a cuppa, and feast your eyes on this week’s writer profile.

Writing

What is your relationship with words and how has that evolved?

 

“My first love was a word, or two, or ten, all wrapped up in a cardboard cover and decorated with pictures inside and out. It was a book my parents read to me and then I learned to read myself. I don’t remember which book it was, and that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that it was the first of many, many stories I encountered over my lifetime …

 

Love can’t be contained, though, nor should it. I revere the beauty of language, and reading has brought me to my love of writing, my need to express myself through the same words I found within the books’ covers, and others I discovered elsewhere along the way. I also teach, to share my love with others struggling to find their way in the world of words. To be separated from my love would be akin to cutting away a part of myself.” (From “True Love,” winner of a writing challenge to “Describe your first love.” © 2017 Miriam Ruff)

 

How long have you been writing, what is your favourite style of writing and why?

 

I’ve been writing professionally for over 30 years. I do everything from scientific papers to eBooks on preparing tea and caring for a pet parrot, but I most enjoy writing science fiction – the entire universe (and any parallel ones) is my playground, and my heart is already among the stars.

 

A life exists beyond what we do know,

Its boundaries are lost out in vast space;

And in the inner minds that are our place,

How can we learn what nature will not show?

We must seek out the answers so to grow,

But yet the universe will hide its face;

It will not yield with anything like grace,

But make us push it strongly to and fro.

Embodying all that’s beyond our scope,

We will still try to pry its secrets free;

To seek is not to give up all our hope,

But find a way to realize what we

must do within our lives so we can cope,

With endless bounds so called infinity.

 

© 2017 Miriam Ruff

 

Many of us within this group have experienced times where writing has helped us overcome times of pain, describe the first time you realised the true of power of words.

 

[Excerpt from “The Demon-Whisperer,” my first poem published, in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology] © 1999 Journal of Humanistic Psychology

 

They started when I was very young

Or perhaps before

I don’t remember which

But it doesn’t much matter

When the whispers came into my mind

The important thing is that they did

Voices that said Don’t do that!

Do this! Do that!

And I believed and accepted

That what they said was right

Because they were my constant companions

And I had no way to know they were not my friends

 

They spoke seductively to me at first

So I would listen

Promised me freedom and an easy life

If only I’d comply this once

Just do exactly what they said

Nothing more and never less

Until once grew into just once more

And more and more

Until I lived for them

And they through me

And I no longer knew where they stopped and I began

Or what it was to say no

 

Many writers love to read. What is your favourite book and why?

 

Poem: One poem has haunted me ever since I encountered it; and perhaps it, more than any other work, made me aware of how beautiful words themselves could be and how, together, those words could create an unforgettable scene. That work is the sonnet “Ozymandias,” written by the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and first published in the 11 January 1818 issue of The Examiner in London. Its words are as vivid and true today as they were then. In his hubris, Ozymandias feeds upon the hearts of his people while building such magnificent structures that he proclaims, “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Yet as the poem’s traveller sees the wreck of the king’s statue in the vast desert, he notes that “nothing beside remains.” Forgotten by Time, Ozymandias is a cautionary tale to those of us who would believe we are like gods in our demeanour and endeavours.

 

Book:

a serial monogamist

a favourite tome read again and again

savouring the deliciousness of the language

the richness of the images

splashed across my mind

until I discover another

and the process begins again

 

Sum up yourself in a haiku or micropoem.

 

an enigma of a puzzle

precariously balanced between selves

passionate about what I do

 

We all have moments where we truly connect with words we read. What quote inspires you the most. Why?

 

“The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but man cannot live in the cradle forever.” –Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

 

A Place in the Stars (A MarsLives Poem) © 2017 Miriam Ruff

I be drawn to the

Sky bright with

Twilight sun

Ground’s dust as red as

The blood we pour into

The mines Below

Standin’ on the surface

The hiss of air

Be comforting

Within the evac suit

I wear

I breathe quickly

But no panic

I just be

Tunnel rat

Out of my place

I come out here

Above

So little

I feel I be a

Stranger

In my own world

But the expanse be

Out there

Real

Almost at tips of

Hands reachin’ out

And it remind me

Of our place

So special

Within the open space

Of astronomical things

I die

For my world

My home

No

More than that

I fight for it

Live for it

To see it live

For those like me

We Martians

We all be Martians

To the core

 

Describe your writing process.

 

I first put my ass in the chair

Nothing can change my mind

I try to remember thoughts there

Whatever I can find

Choosing a form that I can use

Hoping my thoughts, those I won’t lose

Choosing a form

Choosing a form

Gives me a start that’s not a ruse

 

I first put my ass in the chair

Then write at frenzied pace

The edits I don’t worry there

Just leave myself some extra space

I put down words that come to me

In showers and dreams that I see

I put down words

I put down words

With rhyme and meter that agree

 

I first put my ass in the chair

Then look at what I’ve done

I move some words here and some there

To make a tidy sum

I clean the form there as I need

Adding new points for better speed

I clean the form

I clean the form

And now I’m happy when you read

 

© 2017 Miriam Ruff

 

Writer’s block, real or a myth?

 

What happens when the words refuse to come?

Are we then stalled in what needs to be done?

We need to find a way to beat the block,

As in our minds we hear the clock tick-tock.

 

Is this block such we cannot overcome?

Our jumbled thoughts in silence overrun;

So nothing’s written once the day is done,

Of our ideas we must again take stock,

When words refuse.

 

Writing something surely beats writing none,

With discipline a writer you’ll become;

Each day new pieces of your work you’ll lock,

To pages before barren now will flock,

A constant rhythm of new thoughts that hum,

Words don’t refuse.

 

[A modified rondeau]

© 2017 Miriam Ruff

 

What is your favourite word?

Exquisite

 

 

Finish this sentence… Words are the epitome of…

 

…who we have become.

 

Our biggest thanks to Miriam for this wonderful interview. Stay tuned for more of these, next week!

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