Oyster River Pages: If you could tell your younger creative self anything, what would it be?
Bill Pruitt: Get focused. After you write something, the answer to all your questions will be found there. Every sentence counts.
ORP: When did you first learn that language had power? What was that experience like for you?
BP: [My] reprobate uncle gave me copy of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam when I was about 12. I first saw the power of imagery (Dreaming when Dawn’s left hand was in the sky), and the power of poetry to console.
ORP: What does becoming a “better” writer or artist look like to you? How do you define success?
BP: The result more nearly reflects the intent. Success is intent = results.
ORP: What’s the most unexpected place you have seen great art?
BP: Mr. Roger’s operas—especially Bubble Land—and William Steig’s children’s books, e.g. Caleb & Kate, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, The Amazing Bone, et. al.
ORP: Who are your biggest influences?
BP: Blake, Whitman, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Bruce Springsteen.
ORP: What’s your favorite under-appreciated work of art?
BP: [The] Paterson film by Jim Jarmusch.
ORP: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better artist as an adult, what would you do?
BP: Take myself and my deepest desires seriously.
ORP: What is the first creative piece that made you cry?
BP: [William] Blake’s’ “Little Black Boy,” read in 12th grade.
Bill Pruitt is a fiction writer, storyteller, poet, and Assistant Editor with Narrative Magazine. His short stories appear in recent issues of Crack of the Spine Literary Magazine, Indiana Voice Journal, Midway Crack of the Spine Literary Magazine, Indiana Voice Journal, Midway and Hypertext. He has published poems in such places as Ploughshares, Anderbo.com, Off Course, Stone Boat, Otis Nebula, Literary Juice, Visitant and Cottonwood. He has two chapbooks with White Pine and FootHills; and the self-published Walking Home from the Eastman House. He has performed his original story, “Two Kinds of Fear,” a documented telling of the lives of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass at various venues in Rochester. He taught English to non-native speakers for 26 years. He and his wife Pam live in Rochester and have a daughter, a son and two grandchildren.