Thad Rutkowski

Thaddeus Rutkowski is a graduate of Cornell University and The Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of the novels Tetched and Roughhouse. Both books were finalists for an Asian American Literary Award. He teaches fiction writing at the Writer’s Voice of the West Side YMCA and lives with his wife and daughter in Manhattan.

Thad will read at the Bardroom on Saturday, November 29 at 7 pm at Treehugger Dan’s Bookstore & Lounge (Lazar u. 16).

1. Are you currently working on anything, and why’s it taking so long?

“I have a couple of book projects in the works. One is a “novel” based on my experiences as a biracial kid (later a biracial guy). It’s called Learning Curve. Another is a book of prose poems inspired by our daughter, called Baby Steps. Both of these manuscripts are written, but for me, getting a book out into the world takes a lot of legwork and luck.”

2. Do you actually have moments of inspiration or is writing just a process of slogging day in and day out?

“Here’s my routine. I go to an urban colony near where I live and sit at a desk in a room where there’s no talking. After a few hours, I usually produce something, but then I have to figure out what to do with it. Inspiration comes in the form of having an idea (sometimes just a tone of voice) that can be used to organize the raw material.”

3. What word best describes the writer scene in your town: lame, poser, hip, upandcoming, hibernating?

“There are a number of scenes in New York, and I try to move among them. The scene I grew up in was the ‘downtown’ one, consisting of people who didn’t have the money to live uptown. I presented my stuff most often in an art gallery on the Lower East Side called ABC No Rio, which had no heat and a leaky ceiling. ABC is still there, and it’s still ‘no frills.’ Now, of course, there are fancier venues and more diverse gatherings.

4. What’s the last thing you read that made your hair stand up on end?

“I found a book in a library that set out, in mathematical terms, the odds of “passing” as white if you were a mulatto, or if you were the child of a Caucasian and a mulatto, etc. (The odds weren’t good.) I was shocked by the pseudo-scientific approach to racism.”

5. Does poetry matter anymore?

“You know, if you listen long enough, with an open mind, you’ll always find something you can relate to. That’s what matters to me, making that personal connection–striking a chord, or having a chord struck.”

Five Questions for Elo-Mall

November 26, 2008

elo-mallElo-Mall Toomet, or ellom for short, was born and is currently living and raising her child in the beautiful old town of Tartu, a cultural and spiritual] centre of Estonia. Influenced by landscapes, seasonal changes, pain and close human relations, she is dedicated to exploration of the inner worlds, finding ways in dark places and creating maps to be able to return. Her main fields of expression are illustrating fairy-tale books and writing poetry. While her first poetry book was published in 2002, this year saw two new volumes, one in Estonian and the other “The Pain in the Beautiful Answer” written entirely in English. Lately Elo-Mall has become interested in spoken word and voice performances. She has appeared onstage with various musicians in Estonia, Paris and London.  You can read Elo-Mall’s poetry and listen to her voice at

Elo-Mall will read at the Bardroom on Saturday, November 29 at 7 pm at Treehugger Dan’s Bookstore & Lounge (Lazar u. 16).

1. What was your first (poem / piece of writing), and how bad was it?

“The first poem i recall was when I was six years old. It was a fierce declaration of pagan beliefs and patriotism. Very bad of course.”

2. What’s the last thing you read that made your hair stand up on end?

“The biography of Johnny Cash.”

3. What’s the last piece of literature that made you cry?

“Lawrence Durrell’s Justine, mostly because it was so beautiful but also because of the sadness written into it’s different layers.”

4. Does poetry matter anymore?

“That would be yes. It’s in the same category as air and water for me.”

5. What’s the worst thing about writing a book/poem?

“There’s nothing bad about writing a poem. it is a bit tiresome when a new line comes to your head the exact moment you have hid under a blanket and are deadly sleepy. So you have to wake up and write it down. But that’s all good. What I don’t really care for is the bureaucracy surrounding publishing and of course promotion.”


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