I Want To Shine A Positive Light

M C Rydel Author Interview

Almost a Memoir is a collection of poetry that explores family, love, change, work and a variety of other things we face in life. Why was this an important collection for you to publish?

I figure I have about 10 good years left. With no cure in sight for my PD and MG, I feel a sense of urgency to memorialize my ancestors, family, friends, and others with these poems. The verse also reveals the distractions of daily life that compromises our search for divinity and our spiritual lives. I also want to shine a positive light where it doesn’t seem to appear.

This collection was performed as spoken word poetry in bars, bookstores, theatres, and coffeehouses. How has performing your poetry changed how you write it?

I started performing at the Heartland Café in Chicago in 2010. As a true open mic, the show provided a stage for poets, musicians, comedians, and a few magicians. They sat in the audience waiting their turns. Veterans of slam poetry, they were not shy reacting to the poems. Their reactions helped me change first drafts into final drafts that combine the voice of spoken word with the techniques of both form poetry and traditional free verse.

What are some themes you find yourself often exploring with your poetry?

Most of my poems have characters, extended metaphors, and a narrative element, which explore a world of illusions, disorder, and fate. Like the family who has eleven months of immortality and one month of doom, sometimes you’re timid and sometimes you’re bold, and not always at the most predictable times. These poems also follow apophatic thought. If God created the universe, God is by definition outside of the universe. Thus, God is unknowable, which paradoxically proves that God exists. Just not with us. “You’re already in heaven / it’s just not that good.”

My favorite poem from the collection is “Our Collection of Masks.” Do you have a favorite poem from this book?

I like “Second Shift at the Fermilab.” It’s about the one thing every poet needs: a day job. In this case, the job is supervisor of young scientists who use a particle accelerator to solve the mysteries of matter, energy, and space/time. They perpetuate a mutiny and start dancing in their underwear in an obsolete accelerator. They end up changing the space/time continuum. In the words of George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove, “I wish we had one of them doomsday machines.”

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

What would you do if you knew the month of your death? How would you survive that month every year? How would you take advantage of your eleven months of immortality?


Almost a Memoir, a new book of poems by M.C. Rydel, poses this question and others with a collection of lyrical narratives and metaphysical conceits. Performed since 2010 as spoken word poetry in bars, bookstores, theatres, and coffeehouses in cities as diverse as Chicago, New York, Grand Rapids, Flagstaff, and Sedona, this book of poems is almost a narrative, almost personal experience, almost faraway, and almost a memoir, yet it is always about loss & change, work & family, friends & lovers, cats & dogs, moths & bats, and Pablo Neruda & Joseph Brodsky.


This book brings poems from the stage to the page by describing interrupted dreams, heroic and ironic journeys, villanelles, pantoums, ballads, and thirteen poems from the plague year of 2020. Over 100 characters appear in 67 poems. They live in an apophatic universe. Created and then abandoned. They find themselves looking for signs of divinity in a godless world.

Posted on August 10, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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