Interview with Scott Laudati
Poignant and succinct, expressive and concise.
These words describe the style that poet and author Scott Laudati utilizes, seen particularly in his newest work, Bone House. Bone House is a collection of poems that combines the urban energy of New York with a melancholic longing. Laudati released his first collection of poems, Hawaiian Shirts in the Electric Chair, in 2014, and has also written a number of award-winning short stories and a novel entitled Play the Devil. Influenced by the intrusive nature of the big city and a desire to express emotions before it’s too late, Bone House tells the story of what it feels like to “stand at the edge of a cliff.”
To further discuss his writing and his newest book, Bone House, Pillbox sat down with Scott Laudati.
For our readers who are unfamiliar with your work, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in New York City where there is no time to take a breath and you can never sleep because there’s always a firetruck or taxi horn roaring outside your window. And, I think my poems read like that. The energy and music are coming out of the windows, the subway grates, and they’re embedded in the sidewalks you walk above. I love this city and I want my work to reflect it, and if I’m really lucky, someday I’ll be known by it.
What draws you to poetry?
If it’s done well, it’s the ultimate art. Poetry is the mainline of the universe.
Is your approach to writing poetry any different from writing prose?
I don’t know. I’ve never made a choice between the two. Usually, if I’m drinking wine a poem appears. If I take an Adderall or get a good nights sleep, it’s prose.
There’s a certain melancholic nostalgia to Bone House – elements of longing and looking back at the past. Did you start out with a theme or feeling in mind when writing these poems?
Honestly, I thought (and still think) with our new Idiot-In-Chief, the world was/is about to end. I was working on a novel, but writing a novel takes forever and there were a lot of things I wanted to say, some scores I wanted to settle, and especially let a particular girl know that I was wrong for everything. I thought the clock was running out and I wanted to say everything before it was too late. That’s the feeling behind Bone House — standing at the edge of the cliff.
One line that particularly struck me was “My real education began after college,” from your poem “coast to coast,” and you’ve mentioned before how you started writing poems in college. How has education helped or influenced you as a writer?
College makes everyone a better person. Before college your life has been a microcosm, everything can be new now if you let it. You date new people, eat new food, etc. But it’s also a system your parents are still paying for. After college you realize no one cares about you. The government just exists to steal your money. Your boss exists just to exploit you. I guess I’m being annoying and talking about “the real world” everyone’s dad says they don’t know anything about.
How do you differentiate Bone House from Hawaiian Shirts in the Electric Chair?
Bone House is more polished, but I’m not a kid anymore. The background is the same, though. I wrote it with all my heart and I tried to capture everything. The subject matter is a bit wider in Bone House. I tried to leave politics out of Hawaiian Shirts. At this point in history, though, that’s unavoidable — I’ve seen what this country demands from it’s citizens. It’s not good.
You’ve mentioned in the past how writing lyrics has helped you develop your writing style; has music or the experiences of being in a band influenced your work in other ways?
The lifestyle did. A lot of people refer to my poetry as “road poems” or kind of Kerouac or Beat style. I think that’s because of touring in bands and driving between New York and California over and over. Something happens on those endless highways. You never read a newspaper. Your friends stop calling after two days. You’re a ghost for months at a time. Nothing looks the same when you get home.
You have a few music videos to accompany your poems, like “Buffalo Bones” and “grit.” Are you looking to integrate more media-based art into your work?
I just figured that since the music video is essential to a bands album it should probably be the same for a writer with a book to promote. I don’t have any money or a team behind me so I have to continuously think of new ways to reach people. Everyone likes music videos.
Who is one poet or author you think everyone should know?
That’s easy — Thom Young!
To see more of Laudati’s content, look out for his book Bone House or go to his website at scottlaudati.blogspot.com.