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Staff - Rich Orth, Poet in ResidenceI was born in Philadelphia, PA, on April 4, 1963, and raised Catholic. My first interest in poetry came with a 7th grade book report on Edgar Allan Poe in 1975 after my first visit to the Poe House in Philly. The Poe bug had bitten me, but only as a literary indulgence. It would be 1980 before I wrote my first non-schoolwork poem. A friend in high school wrote poetry, so I decided to give it a try. It was the week John Lennon was assassinated, and was a hodgepodge of thoughts with no central theme. So, for the next 15 years, I wrote off and on, sharing only with close friends and family. Around 1994 – 95, I started managing and writing for a band, SubZero, which got me sharing with more people. Two years later, however, the band broke up and I stopped writing except for the special occasions for my wife and daughter.
Jump to March of 2009. I was on Facebook talking to an old friend, and the conversation lead to a new poem called “Cemetery Girl”. Two weeks later another friend who I had helped with a poem 25 years prior called and asked me to help her 14-year-old daughter with a poetry assignment. The bug was back, and I then wrote 92 more before the year’s end. Still, I only shared with a circle of about 25 friends on Facebook. At this point, I decided to write two a week for each year I was alive…’cause if I died, writing was highly unlikely.
2010 started off well, and I had five poems written in two weeks…then my eighth concussion, on January 14, knocked me for a loop. I tried to work my job through it, but eventually I was put on Family Medical Leave Act. The injury caused me to write manically, as many as five to seven poems in a day. The quality was better, themes deeper. I have read stories of head injuries causing changes in abilities and personality, and this experience leads me to believe it true. In February of 2010, the lead singer of Demon Boy contacted me about using “Cemetery Girl” on their CD Dawn of the Demon. By April, the song, which wound up incorporating 4 of my poems, was recorded. It was at this point that I started my Facebook poetry page, Rich Orth POEtry, which I later titled Orth Chronicles Poetry. One page has over 1,000 followers, and the second has over 800. In July of 2010, my poems, “My Night as Poe” and “City By the Sea” were chosen to be walled up at the reopening of the Poe Cottage in the Bronx, NY. I had come full circle.
Since that time I have been in several poetry anthologies, written with Terry Castle (daughter of horror director William Castle), had my poetry featured in multiple magazines, and written poetry to photographs at the behest of Mark Sean Orr, editor of the 3 books on photography in which I have participated. My first book Rich Orth Poetry Girls was published in 2013, followed by Bloody T’is My Valentine in 2014. In 2015, my audio book, voiced by Adam Ginsberg and engineered by Robert Frankenberg, was released. I am a featured writer for AEA and Obscure Chaos magazines. On a very humbling accolade, my poetry is being used by a professor in Italy as part of her literature course for seniors in high school. Not to be outdone, Drake Brewer, a senior high school student in the USA, honored me as his choice for favorite published poet during the school year, and in 2015 Italian senior, Zuleika Cichella chose me as the subject of her thesis. This summer I will be completing a book with artist and writer Alexander Kautz. It will feature my poetry and photography along with Alex’s short stories and art. Last, but certainly not least, I will have at least four songs as the lyricist on the next Demon Boy CD.
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