a brief chat with ryk mcintyre

Photo: Thomas Cizauskas.

Growing up outside of Boston, Ryk McIntyre first thought about becoming a poet during high school when he read Anne Sexton’s The Awful Rowing Towards God. McIntyre jokes that he became a poet the “day the voices in my head formed the theater company.” 

Despite not receiving a formal college level education in poetry, McIntyre became active in the New England poetry scene around the 1980s and began performing for large crowds during the mid ’90s. During one of his performances he recalled a highlight from one of those nights. 

“I wrote a poem about baking bread in which, at one point, I described pounding on the dough like it was everything you’ve ever been angry at. There was a frail young girl with a terminal disease who told me how excited she was to try that.”

The girl passed away a few months later but McIntyre was told by her teachers that it was the first time she had been excited about something in months. The comment still touches McIntyre. “You always want your poems to mean something to someone else. And I don’t know if I will ever hear a compliment like that again.” 

When McIntyre is not giving tours at the Lizzie Borden House, he’s working on theater and storytelling projects, and is always available for bookings. In his words, “Parties, funerals, and funeral parties.” 

McIntyre occasionally steps in as host for Motif’s SWAP Meet, a poetry meetup that includes a featured performer, slam contest, and open mic, which happens twice a month at Incred-A-Bowl in East Providence.

To contact McIntyre for bookings or to discuss with him his nostalgia for the IBM Selectric II Typewriter, email him at ryk.mcintyre921@gmail.com. 

The Praying Mantis That Saved a Walnut Tree With a Typewriter

Haiku, it thought, head twisted
sideways, and faster than “you
just missed it”, raptorial legs
snatch precise elements
out of the air, leaving nothing
of a wake. There are words,
then there are no words, and
then there are words. Mantis
considers his brief existence
under a walnut tree. Every day,
Mantis continues taking words
from out of thin air, making
poetry, and leaving no ripple,
not proof it was ever there
after typewriter goes quiet.
Tree remains. Tree knows
Mantis could have chosen any
tree, anywhere, except events
happened as they did. Typewriter
sounds incorporated into bark,
grow into the small memories
of detail. There was a Mantis,
there is no Mantis. There is a tree
that knows how a poem feels.

– Ryk McIntyre