Ries began writing during his mid-40s and has more than 200
Poet and author
Charles Ries of Milwaukee is well aware of the warnings that
"serious writers" donít write cat poems, but he just
couldnít help himself. Heíd taken good care of his daughterís
cat, and watched as she had her one chance to escape into the wide
world, but hesitated, and made her choice to stay.
Ries grew up on
a mink farm in Sheboygan, "so my relationship with animals is
kind of weird," he says. But Princess "kind of adopted
me," and when she died, Ries says, "tears came out of
nowhere." His poem about her, "My Catís Human," took
second place in a major writing competition and is included in his
latest collection, "Girl Friend & Other Mysteries of
go back 15 years, and were extracted from about 500 total," Ries
says. "I feel collections should have sort of a thematic focus.
One of my thematic focuses is this mash-up of the vernacular and
Friend & Other Mysteries of Love" focuses on love in its many
ĎLet me just pull all of these observations Iíve collected about
love, try to keep it universal and funny, colloquial and common in a
way, very accessible and readable.í As I was culling through this
work, these were the things that fell out," Ries says.
The result, he
says, is a meditation on love from the point of view from a
love so differently now, I donít take it for granted," Ries
says. "When I was young, it was a lot of hormones and a lot of
feverish, mindless activity sometimes. But everything I do know is
with much more presence of mind."
His presence in
the creative writing world is ubiquitous. His narrative poems, short
stories, interviews and poetry reviews have appeared in more than 200
publications. His book, "The Fathers We Find," is a novel
based on memory. Ries has received four nominations for the
prestigious Pushcart Prize and was awarded the Wisconsin Regional
Writers Association Jade Ring Award for humorous writing.
"What I try
to find in writing is those sort of quirky, weird, offbeat moments ó
these odd, out-of-time experiences in line in the grocery store or a
guy eating waffles in a weird way; these moments that have a curiosity
in an odd way," he says.
Ries works in
the University Advancement Department at Marquette University. He
recently took a sabbatical from writing, channeling his creative
spirit into gardening for himself and for friends. Both writing and
gardening, he says, require ruthless editing in order for the writerís
and gardenerís voice to be heard.
is my other favorite compulsion," he says. "I think itís