120 Seconds with … Risica Caputi

Meet Risica Caputi. She is the author of Keep Your Left Up & Chin Down (Volume 14).

  • Day Job: By day I work as a cashier at the local Circle K. I am also a licensed massage therapist, and do that gig on the side whenever I have the time. 
  • 3 favorite authors: Ray Bradbury, Charles Bukowski, and Agatha Christie. 
  • 3 artists I admire: That is a tough one. I have always wished that I could have Marina Abramovic’s courage and passion. I am constantly mystified by Bernini’s sculptures. I have visited the Borghese Gallery several times and I can’t figure out how someone could make something so perfect. Lastly, I admire Dali— he embraced his weirdness. 
  • Bragging rights: tell us about something you’re really proud of. I’m proud that I have finally learned to love myself. It’s taken a while. 
  • What’s the toughest criticism of your work you’ve ever received? How did you respond or deal with it? I once sent a sonnet I wrote to an online magazine. They told me it was too rhyme-y. How did I deal with it? I stopped rhyming. 
  • Must-have item for my workspace: Quiet. 
  • Where do your ideas come from? What can you tell us about your creative process? My ideas come from what I see at my tedious, stressful, and crazy job. I get inspiration from my interactions with others. For example, I had a male customer recently tell me that I should re-paint my nails—he could see the polish was chipping. So I wrote a poem about how women are seen as the property of others; how some men see it as “okay” to tell a woman how to look, dress, or simply be. 
  • How do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work?I never really know if a piece is done. It just comes out of me, and that’s that. Sometimes I go back and change things around or edit. But then again, sometimes I don’t. 
  • Tell us about an under-appreciated artist, gallery, writer, or bookstore do you think people should know about. My friend from high school, Nick Sirotich. We rode the bus together for 2 years, and we were really good friends. He is an illustrator and tattoo artist; he’s the coolest guy ever. You can find his work at nicksirotich.com
  • 3 things that will be obsolete in 10 years: cursive writing, CD players, ugg boots (I hope). 
  • Any fun plans for the summer? My plans for the summer are to work, write, garden, and to finish up the courses I need to become a licensed body piercer. 

Vol. 14 POWER AND CORRUPTION: Risica Caputi - “Keep Your Left Up & Chin Down”

"The piece I’ve written is about how backward American society is. Although we have made incredible advances in technology, medicine, and so forth, our country has the mental attitude of a four year old. We want to be cool. We want to be perfect. We want everything, and we want it now. This poem is a bit cynical, but who isn’t nowadays?"—Risica 

***

Welcome to America
Land of freedom and prosperity
Where the old are forgotten
Shut away inside graying walls
So we are not subjected to their slow decay
Where the prosperous ascend to the top
On the broken sweating backs
Of the middle class

This is the land where vanity is god
Where we starve and cut and die
To meet impossible standards
Where higher education is for everyone
As long as your pockets are lined with gold
We are deluged with images of the beautiful people
Leading lives that we wish we could have
Famous for nothing and loving it

Welcome to America
Land of freedom and acceptance
Where you are judged not on the goodness of your soul
But on the price of your Louis Vuitton handbag
Where some struggle and toil just to make it to next week
While the one percent sip champagne over breakfast
Watching the rest of us work ourselves to death.

Read More

tatteredcover
I like to think of what happens to characters in good novels and stories as knots—things keep knotting up. And by the end of the story—readers see an “unknotting” of sorts. Not what they expect, not the easy answers you get on TV, not wash and wear philosophies, but a reproduction of believable emotional experiences.
Terry McMillan
blackberrylitmag
The old adage is true—writing is rewriting. But it takes a kind of courage to confront your own awfulness (and you will be awful) and realize that, if you sleep on it, you can come back and bang at the thing some more, and it will be less awful. And then you sleep again, and bang even more, and you have something middling. Then you sleep some more, and bang, and you get something that is actually coherent. Hopefully when you are done you have a piece that reasonably approximates the music in your head. And some day, having done that for years, perhaps you will get something that is even better than the music in your head. Becoming a better writer means becoming a re-writer. But that first phase is so awful that most people don’t want any part.
thatawkwardwritingmoment
Think of the novels you have loved most. Do you remember a character who lived with page after page, perhaps hoping the book would never end? What do you remember most clearly, the characters or the plot? Now think of the movies you’ve seen that affected you the most. Do you remember the actors or the plot? There’s a book called Characters Make Your Story that you don’t have to read because the title says it all: Characters make your story. If the people come alive, what they do becomes the story.
Sol Stein
scribnerbooks
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (via scribnerbooks)

This.