When Richard Dittami was a young man, writing was more of a survival mechanism. Living most of his life in Massachusetts and working in the construction trade, Richard considered himself a ‘blue-collar poet’. He spoke of the minutiae of life, responding to injustice, holding a mirror up to humanity’s weaknesses and amplifying its triumphs. He was driven by the desire to share his work and be heard and discontent spurred him on.
Presently living in Nova Scotia with visual artist, Louise Cloutier, he no longer needs that outside validation. He is older now, more content living a quieter life, regularly meditating and trying not to respond to the negative upheavals in the world. Now rather than just enduring life with all its challenges, he has shifted focus. He finds himself appreciating and celebrating the magnificence of life.
“I grew up.”
When asked about his process, Richard says he writes in fits and starts. He does have a dedicated space in a bedroom where he works, filled with notebooks of stories and poems. He writes something and then let’s it sit and simmer for awhile, maybe months. Then he ‘sneaks up on it’, revisiting, paying attention to where the words are taking him. His aim is to express himself clearly. He writes and revises by hand and then eventually types them into the computer where it goes through further revisions. He likes to save early versions in case he loses the intent of the piece and has to go back. It is hard to be objective about the writing, but he tries.
For his 2020 publication, Shredding Plywood, with Black Dog & One-Eyed Press, he worked at length with editor judith S bauer to pull the poetry collection together. It was a true learning experience. Through this experience he developed insights that he has been able to apply to his creative process. Right now he is working on a larger manuscript and is in the middle of finding a publisher for it.
Richard is notably comfortable reading his work in public, whether it is on a stage between musical performances, in cafes and galleries or presenting a dedication poem to the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. He is a dynamic reader, understanding the power of words to exhilarate and inspire, encourage empathy and enlighten. Some of his poems explode off the page, resonating in your chest like a big drum roll; others speak in tongues, sharing the visions of this everyman writer.
Richard read Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky when he was 12 years old and was so inspired he dreamed of writing one story, one poem that would make just as powerful an impact on the world. He was also impressed by the work of Gilbert Scott-Heron, an American jazz poet, singer, musician, and author known for his work as a spoken-word performer. “He was not afraid to sing about injustice.” Americans, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and writer/poet Allen Ginsberg also stoked Richard’s desire to write.
(excerpt from Charles)
The great mechanics are
and gifted with confidence
that everything can be repaired
There is no cure for rust
which sooner or later claims us all.