I have every single book published by Scott Laudati the, first two that basically began my obsession with his work were Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair, and Play The Devil. My first introduction to Scott’s poetry had been during a time when I was writing reviews for the UK Punk blog, The Punk Archive. I honestly NEVER thought in a million years that I would be reviewing a poetry book for a punk music blog. I am one of the fussiest readers EVER, if I do not enjoy a book it remains on my bookcase with a page marker — basically left to die a literary death. This is NOT the case with Scott’s work, his writing comes from an extremely visceral and impactful place. I would strongly recommend picking up all of Scott’s books, I have ALL of them, either in print or on my Kindle. I find Scott’s poetry to be comforting to my soul, his darker pieces move my essence in the fashion of being possessed by a siren. He genuinely has such a PHENOMENAL body of work.
RMMW: I was so happy to see the second edition release of Play The Devil, and Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair, are there any sneak peeks or clues you could perhaps give my audience as to a few changes from the original version to this one?
SL: I never felt like either of them were “done”, but for whatever reason, when the invite came to publish them I didn’t think asking the publisher to wait a few more months while I polished them was an option. The world seemed to be moving much faster back then, like we were racing to some sort of human conclusion, and I figured it better to have a book that was 95% done out in the world. Now that we’ve entered this endless slog, and both books had been out of print for years, I thought it was the right time to go back and fix them up, flesh out the scenes, etc. The bones of both are still the same but I think especially with Play The Devil you get a real story now that is almost packaged with a bow on it.
RMMW: What are you currently working on? Still, planning the perfect bank robbery?
SL: I’m a direct descendant of Jesse James; I think I would be doing my family a great disservice if I didn’t at least try. I want to wait until my writing is part of the American canon, though. This way, if I get caught and they ask, “Why?”, I can say, “It wasn’t about the money, I just thought it would be fun.” Hopefully, it will inspire other people to create mayhem for mayhem’s sake.
Scott Laudati, Poet
RMMW: When I first reviewed Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair, it was your first published body of work. Now, your repertoire houses 4 books, which include Play The Devil, Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair, Camp Winapooka, and Bone House. All of which I have read, and they are all brilliant. Which one is your favourite & which one was the most challenging to write and why?
SL: Thank you, Rania, wow it’s been a long time now, hasn’t it? Writing isn’t the hard part, the hard part is time. Your parents pounding the idea of a “Plan B” in your head so you go to college, then work a stupid job to pay rent, then go back to college to actually get a job, then getting a “real” job, it’s too much. Suddenly you’re on the wrong end of your 30’s and you’ve only spent 2% of your time on the stuff you actually care about. And all your rich friends start succeeding because they didn’t have to work and they can write without “the fear” of failure. I go to work every day and think about killing myself. It’s such a stupid life. There are all kinds of prisons, and most of them are created by the people who tell you they love you.
RMMW: What music do you have on your current playlist when you write?
SL: I don’t really listen to music when I write. The lyrics create too much disturbance. I’ll listen to blues music because 1. It’s my favorite, and 2. The words are really simple and it’s mostly guitar. If I’m feeling really stupid that day I’ll listen to Bartok or something classical and hope it replenishes some brain cells.
RMMW: Do you still use your grandfather’s old Underwood and that you received after he died to type your drafts on?
SL: No, I haven’t done that in a long time. I don’t know why. Maybe because I was concerned about “looking like a writer” back then. I thought acting the part would make me better. Now I don’t care about anything.
RMMW: What is on your current reading list?
SL: Charles Bowden. He was a really fantastic writer, one of the best. He writes a lot about the destruction of the natural world. He also writes a lot about drug cartels. That’s a topic I’m always very interested in because so many people I loved died of heroin and oxy. His journalistic work should have won him a Nobel Prize. Time and again, he proves the link between a drug laboratory in Mexico to the United States government to multinational banks laundering all the money. I don’t know why he’s not more well known. Probably because a lot of rich people have a lot to lose if people start reading him.
RMMW: Of all the poetry readings that you have attended over the years, is there one event that sticks out the most to you, and why?
SL: I did a reading in Chicago a few years ago that was sold out and I blabbed for over 30 minutes telling stories, reading poems, etc. And it was awesome. I felt no fear and the crowd sat there and cheered everything I said. Afterward, the Chicago writer Christopher Andrews took me out and we drank everything in Chicago and had a real rock n’ roll night. That was the best, and every show after that I’ve been hit with unbelievable stage fright and get overtaken by this voice that says, “Everything you’re saying is stupid. Get off the stage now.” So since then, I’ve hated giving readings, because I’m terrified and everyone in the crowd can feel it.
The best part about any reading is the other writers you meet. No matter how bad you do they are always very supportive. Thom Young, Josh Dale, TJ McGowan, Glen Binger, Tohm Bakelas, are a few people I’ve read with many times who are all awesome, great performers, people I’d much rather watch than myself.
RMMW: What does the perfect writing day look like for you?
SL: Waking up after 8 hours of sleep, drinking a cup of black slow-drip Ethiopian coffee, putting the perfect felt brimmed hat on my head, locking the door of my mansion, getting into my Maserati, calling Emma Roberts to see if she likes my new book, driving down the 101, eating a bunch of mushrooms on Miley Cyrus’s horse farm, watching the dolphins do backflips under the Malibu sunset.
Going to a punk show in Tompkins Square Park, getting inspired by the energy, then going home and finishing the thing I’ve been procrastinating all week.
RMMW: Of all the journals that have published you, and there have been A LOT! Which one are you most proud of?
SL: When The Columbia Journal (Columbia University) published my essay The Trail To Marfa about a trip Thom Young and I took through Texas, I finally felt like I’d really done something. One of the most elite universities on earth deemed my writing good enough to spend the rest of eternity in their library. Sometimes still, when everything looks so hopeless I say to myself, you did that. And they can never take it away. That’s about as good as it gets.