The HCR Interview with Gabriel Ricard and Kevin Ridgeway

When I heard Gabriel Ricard and Kevin Ridgeway were publishing a joint poetry collection, A Ludicrous Split, through Alien Buddha Press, I had two immediate thoughts: I need to read this, and I need to interview them about working together. Gabe and Kevin are two of my favorite guys in poetry, so I'm very happy they were just as excited to stop by the camp and chat a while. They even picked their own interview title! Enjoy!

Kevin and Gabe’s Big Slutty Interview

Hobo Camp Review: Tell us how this split poetry collection you’re releasing through Alien Buddha Press came about. Do your individual poems relate in some way?

Gabe: For me, one of the neatest things about A Ludicrous Split is the fact that when I asked Kevin if he wanted to do this, I didn’t know what he was going to send me. I just had this feeling that whatever he sent me, it would connect to what I came up with. I liked not knowing how that would actually work out, but I at least knew that we weren’t going to write about the exact same things in the exact same way.

When you read the book, you’ll see that Kevin and I both subscribe to a similar approach to humor. We both have similar backgrounds, and we’re both white dudes who came to poetry as a way of making sense of things. Or recording memories. With both of our books, I think you’ll also notice that we don’t record our memories in exactly the same way. Kevin is like a journalist in the gonzo sense of things. I often start with something concrete from my life, and build around that in whatever way I see fit.

I guess there was just something about combining our similarities and distinct, creative differences into some kind of collaboration. To be honest, I’d be down to write a screenplay with this guy, but I felt like doing a split chapbook would be the most straightforward path to doing something. Thankfully, Kevin agreed.

Kevin Ridgeway
Kevin: I've know Gabriel and his work since I became a regular poetry contributor to Drunk Monkeys in 2011. I've always felt that we share a type of sensibility that is darkness with a morbid touch of light. Our mutual senses of humor mesh.  

We are both huge fans of Warren Zevon, and I think perhaps that's all that needs to be said.

Last year, Gabriel approached me with the idea of doing a split chapbook. I'd been languishing in full length manuscript hell and welcomed the refreshing new project with an appropriate kindred spirit.  

We worked separately and have our own individual styles that are distinct from one another, but the themes make our poems like inbred cousins.   

HCR: Have the two of you ever met in real life? If so, how are you both still allowed to roam free? And if not, what do you think a night on the town would be like with the other riding shotgun?

Gabe: We met through Drunk Monkeys in 2011, 2012 or so. I want to say I reviewed one of his books. I generally live on the east coast, and he’s been on the west coast for a long time, so I never actually thought we’d get to meet. I just really liked his work, and we eventually came to find that we liked a lot of the same writers and musicians.

I was lucky to meet Kevin in 2015 at a reading in Long Beach. Unfortunately, I was so overwhelmed with seeing human beings after an 11 hour car ride, Matt Guerrero had to slow me down long enough to see Kevin standing off to the side. We got to talk a bit, but I spent the whole night trying to see everybody, before my wife and I had to drive back to Ashland, OR the next morning, so we never hung out enough to my satisfaction.

However, we’ve been talking about Kevin coming out to New York for a reading. As much as I weirdly miss California at times, I’m definitely up for doing something together on the east coast.

Kevin: We met in the flesh at Gatsby Book's in Long Beach, CA, my stomping grounds, for a Kleft Jaw-Drunk Monkeys reading. It was strange and we smoked a lot of cigarettes together in the alleyway. Someone took a photograph. We must hang out again and paint the town pink, and we will soon once I fly out to NYC.

HCR: Since Kevin is out there on the west coast and Gabe is on the east, I wonder, does a sense of place have any role in your work? 

Gabriel Ricard
Gabe: Since I’ve become someone who seems to be the most comfortable on the east coast, I suppose something about that mentality finds its way into my work. East coast in the sense that it’s talking a little too fast, and it might be a little too fucking friendly sometimes. Still, I was born in Alberta, Canada. I lived on the west coast until I was 13. I’ve lived in Oregon, California, Virginia, Georgia, and New York. Never going to college has allowed me to log tens of thousands of miles in transit. Since I’m definitely susceptible to being influenced by atmosphere, I’d like to at least imagine I’ve written a lot of stuff about places on the east coast, the west coast, and bizarre combinations in between.

Kevin: As long as I live in California, the majority of my poems will take place in California. But I've moved to Texas and did a chapbook of poems on Texas. It's going to be crazy when I finally get out on the road...

HCR: What the best thing you’ve read so far in 2018? Any books you’re looking forward to reading?

Kevin: Two: 1: Why I Write in Coffee Houses and Diners: Selected Poems by Albert Huffstickler. 
2: Our book.

Gabe: So far, I’ve only read a handful of books. Most of those have been for review. Still, I’m loving every fucking word of Inherent Vice. I’m also making my way through Nightmare Town.

HCR: If you could do another split collection with any other writer, alive or no longer with us, who would it be and why?

Gabe: There are a few living writers I’d love to ask. However, I’d rather not mention names. Everyone likes weird surprises. Dead, I think it would have been fun to work with Zelda Fitzgerald.

Kevin: I'm in the early stages of working on a split chapbook with Matt Galletta, a poet and friend of immense, savage talent. Check out his The Ship is Sinking from Epic Rites Press, it is a demon. It will consist of all original poems from my side, which I told Matt I wanted to call Mean Motherfuckers. No publisher yet, but hey now -- let's get the work done, eh?

HCR: What’s next for you after this book? Any new projects or appearances you’d like to tell us about?

Kevin: I'm working on my full length debut, Too Young to Know. I will appear on Daniel Crocker's sanesplaining the first weekend in April. Everyone saw me in my underwear on Facebook.
But I recover from such things and I write all the daydreams down before they die.

Gabe: Love and Quarters is my next solo poetry collection. It’s kind of a spiritual sequel to my 2015 poetry collection Clouds of Hungry Dogs, which was Kleft Jaw Press. That and A Ludicrous Split are coming out at reasonably similar times, so anywhere over the next couple of months.

Beyond that, I’m looking forward to reading with Kleft Jaw and Crisis Chronicles Press in April. That’s going to take me to Cleveland, and some surrounding areas. In June, I’ll be going to Boston and/or Rhode Island to do some readings and other fun stuff with Stephen Moran and Moran Press, to get people all hot and bothered for Love and Quarters. August, I’m working on booking some gigs in Richmond. Raymond Kilburn, who did the cover for Love and Quarters, have been talking about how much fun it would be to do some sort of book signing/reading together.

After all of that, assuming I’m still alive, I’ll still be writing my monthly columns for both Drunk Monkeys and Cultured Vultures. If it’s at all possible, and I’m definitely pushing my luck, I’d love to sell my other manuscripts. I have a travel essay collection, and then a short story collection.

Probably pushing my luck, but what the fuck else am I going to do?


Kevin Ridgeway lives and writes in Long Beach, CA. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Spillway, Lummox, Misifit Magazine and Cultural Weekly, among others. He is also the author of six previous chapbooks, including All the Rage (Electric Windmill Press), On the Burning Shore (Arroyo Seco Press) and Contents Under Pressure (Crisis Chronicles Press). A two-time Pushcart nominee, his poem “Her Dead Husband’s Ashes” placed 2nd in the 2015 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize.

Gabriel Ricard writes, edits, and occasionally acts. He writes a monthly column called Captain Canada’s Movie Rodeo at Drunk Monkeys, as well as a monthly called Make The Case with Cultured Vultures. His 2015 poetry collection Clouds of Hungry Dogs is available from Kleft Jaw Press, while his 2017 novel Bondage Night is available through Moran Press. He is currently working on releases for A Ludicrous Split (Alien Buddha Press/Split chapbook with Kevin Ridgeway) and Love and Quarters (Moran Press). He is also a writer and performer with Belligerent Prom Queen Productions, currently working on a follow-up to their 2016 immersive theater show Starman Homecoming. Despite having never run into legendary actor John Astin during one of his many trips to Baltimore, Gabriel currently lives on Long Island with his wife, two crazed lady ferrets, and an inability to stop ordering delivery.

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