Richard Loranger chats with great weather for MEDIA editor, Jane Ormerod.
Jane: Hi Richard! So tell me, why do you write about mammals, matter, and mud?
Richard: Well, the easy answer is because that’s what I’m made of, in a lot of ways. There might be a couple other nouns in that list, all of them starting with “m” of course, but I write about mammals because that’s my identity politics. I know a lot of people think that’s a joke or silly but it’s not a joke. I spent a while some years ago trying to figure what group it was that I deeply identified with, and I went through some months of introspection. In the course of that, I mostly arrived at groups that I don’t identify with. I realized, for instance, that I don’t really identify essentially as gay, even though I am. I’m glad to be gay, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not really the center of my life. I don’t identify as being a guy, either, a male; again though I enjoy my hormonal status, the gender construct doesn’t quite hold up for me. I don’t really identify as being white, I guess because white people have no culture – okay, that’s a joke, or sort of. I did grow up in suburban America, and malls never did feel like culture to me.
Jane: That’s a fair point. You don’t really have any malls in your poetry.
Richard: I might, but they’re well hidden. And I don’t really identify as American, because the whole borders thing eludes me. And so on and on, there might be some other categories, and I spent some time thinking about it, and I finally realized, duh, I identify with mammals. I don’t know any other way to say it. With hairy things that smell and have nipples.
Jane: There are so many people who identify with one particular animal, like a cat or something, but what you’re saying is different.
Richard: Right. This isn’t like saying I have a spirit animal, this is identity politics.
Jane: So saying you identify as a mammal, it’s kind of a big statement.
Richard: For me it really is politics; it’s not a spiritual statement. Well maybe it is, but only insofar as identity politics is a spiritual matter. See it seems to me that whatever group people identify with, in general at least, though they might bicker or even fight viciously within the group, they’re much more likely to act aggressively to people outside of the group, to exclude them, to make everyone else into an other. They’re more likely to place those outside of their selected group in artificial hierarchies, to war with them, and worse yet to feel okay about it, because they are other. And the smaller the group they identify with, the more likely they are to be at war with the world, at odds with it, in conflict. And if that’s not a spiritual matter, I’m not sure what is. So imagine if everyone identified as mammal – with that level, that sense of inclusivity, would human relations in general be raised at least a notch? I don’t know! But I’d like to think so. That’s all in retrospect, of course, stuff I’ve considered since I started recognizing myself as mammal.
And then why I write about matter, the second part of your question, that seems kind of obvious, because it’s half of what we’re made of, the other half being void. Haha! Actually matter might be like one billionth of what we’re made of, since we are mostly empty space. I love that. Because I suspect it’s not quite empty.
And mud, well, I think there you’re referring to “Mud Song”, and that’s only there because it sounds so sexy. Although I don’t have a mud fetish, I’d like to clear that up right now. I know some people who do, and I could refer you to them if you’d like to check it out.
Jane: Haha! I was actually thinking of mud as a kind of creation force, like you were thinking that we go back to water.
Richard: Yeah, I was, we came out of mud.
Jane: But it could be some kind of crappy pottery…
Richard: I like that too.
RICHARD LORANGER is a writer, performer, visual artist, and all around squeaky wheel, currently residing in Oakland, CA. He is the author of Poems for Teeth, as well as The Orange Book, and eight chapbooks, including Hello Poems and The Day Was Warm and Blue. He’s just finished a series of poems that ask questions, and is currently working on a series of ecstatic odes. Recent work can be found in Esque #3: Revolutionesque (online at esquemag.org), the debut issue of One Ded Cow, Correspondence 1, 2, & 3, and the anthologies Diving Divas: 100 Gay Men on Their Muses, and the Uphook Press anthologies you say. say and hell strung and crooked. He wants only a calm moment.
Hear and meet Richard at the great weather Lift Off Party at Swift Hibernian Lounge in New York City, Tuesday April 17 2012.