No. 47: Lenny DellaRocca
Q. You’ve been writing since 1968; how would you describe your evolution through the decades?
I was 14 in 1968, now I’m 61! My first attempts at poetry were writing psychedelic-Beatles/Bob Dylan-influenced poems. But before I learned the alphabet, I used to scribble on blank paper pretending to write. Once I learned my ABCs, I began writing one-page monster and sci-fi stories. In the ’70s I wrote up to 40 poems a day. That was my education. I’m not an academic poet—no MFA. I discovered poetry readings in 1980. I’d go every month to this yacht-restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. I won second prize my first time there. That’s where I learned that I needed to read poetry. And I began sending poems out and started getting published. In 2001, after watching people jump from the towers, I quit writing for 10 years. Since I came back, those years are pouring out. Maybe they’re jumping.
Q. What would a splice of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” look like?
Yikes! There’s that psychedelic influence from the late 60s coming through. It would look like a man, a dreamer, who never wants to stop exploring life and in the end refuses to go. He’ll fight those scary windmills with a plastic sword. Actually, I have a wand from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The two poems in Fairy Tale Review are from a collection called “Junkyard Wizard,” so that fits. Originally, the collection was called “Fables”—therefore the names of the poems, but I’ve since changed the titles. One is now “Lost Boy” and the other, “Windows.” I am in search of a publisher for “Junkyard Wizard”—know any? 🙂
Q. You describe light so strongly in these fables. Two in particular that I enjoy are the glow of the windows like “sun-ripened tea,” and the woman who is “clean in the light of pearls.” Is there another use of light—whether in this medium or others—that comes to mind as especially interesting?
Light is everything, isn’t it? I’m an artist who cannot paint, so I use words. (I’m also a very amateur photographer). There’s a special quality to it, the way it softens things, how it throws shadows, sparkles in objects. I’ve used the image of light on wooden floors, fruit and spoons several times in poems. I live in South Florida so there’s no getting away from it. The woman “clean in the light of pearls” is from a dream—maybe it was a vision, as I was 5—and she appeared hovering just on the other side of our fence in the back yard. That’s haunted me all my life—in a good way. I think light is a strange woman haunting my work.
Interview conducted by Fairy Tale Review Editorial Assistant Lucille Randazzo.
Lenny DellaRocca’s poems, “Fable IX” and “Fable XIX, can be found in The Mauve Issue of Fairy Tale Review.
What if you could never adjust your eyes like everyone else from the time when objects and ideas merged into the This-is-Really-How-it-Works world? Become someone who creates cinema and poetry, half of which stays in your head? See things, try to describe them to a friend or sister but they give you That Look as if you just jumped from a plane in a clown suit over North Korea. So when you splice The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Do Not Go Gentle into That Goodnight, nobody invites you over for coffee anymore. You cannot tell them you see Cinderella making love to Rodney Dangerfield. But would you try one more time to explain that you can see the other side of the moon because once you went with Peter Pan? You’ve heard ridicule about others who claim they were abducted by tall, thin creatures with dead-black eyes, beamed up to a ship, eggs or sperm taken to make hybrid human aliens. Yet the need to tell someone is overwhelming: a woman appeared to you when you were four, hovered above the grass on the other side of the fence in your backyard, clean in the light of pearls. Birdsong trance. The lady told you something you can only repeat using strange images and words. What if you put your hand in your pocket all these years later, find an old, dusty star? Throw it into a well, watch it disappear. Wish.