Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Poet Ransom Cole - His Fascination With Poetry and Presidents!

Christal Cooper

Scripted Interview With:
Poet Robert “Ransom” Cole

Ransom Cole is a poet living in Alabama with his dog Harper.  He has been published in several places and is currently working on his first manuscript.

       He teaches Composition and is the Composition Publications Coordinator at Auburn University in Montgomery.

What is your first memory of writing poetry?

I didn't write poetry until I was in college. I kind of hated poetry for a long time. I had a really awesome Creative Writing teacher at Alabama who got me into it. She was fantastic: Molly Brayman.

When did you know you were a poet?

I thought that Creative Writing class (Molly Brayman as teacher) was just an easy grade, but we started off reading poetry that had been published that same month, and it blew my mind.

High school had only exposed me to Donne and Shakespeare and Milton and, while there's nothing wrong with those guys at all, it is really difficult for a high school student to embrace poetry when the only stuff she or he sees are these untouchable dusty masterpieces. Contemporary poetry
should be interspersed with that stuff, too.

What projects are you working on now?

I'm currently writing a bunch of poetry-plays that deal with American History. I doubt any will see the light of day, but they're fun to write.
I've also got a series of poems about the Hardy Boys as grown men longing for their days of solving mysteries.

How was the poem "BODY OF FDR" first conceived in your brain?

     For whatever reason, Presidents have always fascinated me, and I can't keep them out of my poems. Both Roosevelts, Jackson, Nixon, Jefferson, and Taft have all appeared in poems. Each one was completely by accident.

Can you explain the process of writing "BODY OF FDR" from the moment you first conceived of it to the final product on paper?

     I think it started off with a throwaway line at one point-- the dime across the floor.  The rest of the poem just grew around that. There were easily 10 revisions mixed in.

Did you write the poem with pen and paper or directly onto the computer?

     I always start with paper and move to the screen for the second revision. There's so much change that happens in that step. For whatever reason, that's what has worked best for me.

Do you have a fascination with FDR?

     Absolutely. FDR may be my favorite President. The way he dealt with the media and Congress to how he presented himself to the American public. From the New Deal to the end of the War, there was so much going on.

What is your day-to-day routine when it comes to writing?

     If I spend less than hour day writing, I feel like I failed. It doesn't just have to be poetry, though. I just need to write. I have to be at a desk with no distractions. Jazz or classical music really work.

Editor Note:
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died of a brain hemorrhage on April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia. 
The next day, on April 13, 1945, a funeral train carried President Roosevelt’s body from Warm Springs, Georgia to Washington, D.C. 

President Roosevelt’s body was embalmed, but with some difficulty:  the morticians could barely inject the embalming fluid into his body because his arteries were so hard. 

       On April 14, 1945 President Roosevelt’s body was laid in
state in the East Room of the White House.

On April 15, 1945 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was buried in the garden of his estate Hyde Park, located on the Hudson River in New York.

Facts About the Body of Franklin Roosevelt
By Ransom Cole

His head had twenty-two bones and a brain.

His left lung was smaller than his right.  It gave way
to his heart, a lump roughly the size of his fist.

His frame was folded over with wheelchairs and canes.

His heart pumped his blood three
billion times during his life.

His bones were not white, but beige,
like sand or a pine’s skin without bark.

His ears were shaped to spin sound waves
more perfectly than anything ever engineered. 
They could catch an echo of a bullfrog trapped inside
a hollow tree.

The bones of his legs when sliced like a tree trunk
would show a lifetime’s worth of steps. 
Each stride would be known,
every inch of ground he covered could be mapped.

His nerve endings, if collected, could fill a large jug,
could create a maze of neuron jolts, could push
a dime across a marble floor forever.


Photo 1Q
Ransom Cole with Harper.
Copyright granted by Ransom Cole.

Photo 2O
Ransom Cole.
Copyright granted by Ransom Cole.

Photo 3L
John Dunn
Attributed to Isaac Oliver
Public Domain

Photo 4M
William Shakespeare
Oil On Canvas
Thought to be attributed to Painter John Taylor
Public Domain

Photo 5N
John Milton
Public Domain

Photo 6K
Jacket cover of The Tower Treasure by Franklin W Dixon.
Grossett & Dunlap Publishers
Public Domain and Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law. 

Photo 7F
President Theodore Roosevelt
Attributed to the Pach Brothers Photography Studio
Public Domain

Photo 8E
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
December 27, 1933
Attributed to Elias Goldensky
Public Domain

Photo 9G
President Andrew Jackson
April 15, 1845
Attributed to Edward Anthony.
Public Domain

Photo 10H
President Richard Nixon
Attributed to the White House Photo Office
Public Domain

Photo 11I
President Thomas Jefferson
Attributed to Rembrandt Peale
Public Domain

Photo 12J
President William Howard Taft
March 11, 1909
Public Domain

Photo 13D
FDR (far left) shakes hands with young LBJ (middle), Texas Governor Allred (far right).
In Galveston, Texas on May 12, 1937
National Archives and Records Administration.
Released to the Worldwide Public Domain by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library.

Photo 14B
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s body lying in state in the East Room of the White House.

Photo 15C
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s funeral procession with horse-drawn casket, Pennsylvania Avenue.
April 14, 1945
United States Library of Congress
Public Domain.

Photo 16A
The gravesite of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the Rose Garden in Hyde Park.
Attributed to Anthony
Photo taken on August 20, 2012.
GNU Free Documentation License.

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