Five Minutes with Voices of the Street 2012 Contributor Ruth Dato

Megaphone caught up with Voices of the Street 2012 contributor Ruth Dato (pictured above with her son Neil) at the issue launch party April 19th. She read her piece "Patient Anticipation" at the launch; click here to read it.

Megaphone: You’re one of the contributors to Voices of the Street 2012 who actually hasn’t attended the Megaphone writing workshops, is that right?

Ruth Dato: Well, I attend the Thursdays Writing Collective every week at the Carnegie. Elee [Kraljii Gardiner] is the one who runs that, and she’s a good friend of mine, and she’s really excellent. And I have this book, this kind of, portfolio, and I carry notebooks in it.

Each week I pull my notebook out, and Elee gives us a prompt. Often the prompt will be from a well-established poet, or what have you, and she’ll take a line from the poem and we’re free to write whatever we want. Like a poem, or rose, or fiction inspired by whatever prompt she gives.

Do you have a preference, or find yourself writing one style most often, between poetry, prose-

It’s usually whatever hits me. It’s usually poetry, but sometimes I’ll just start writing and whatever comes out comes out.

How long have you been writing?

I was first inspired to be a writer some years ago, after I started looking back on my life and realizing that I’d been through a lot. I thought that in telling my story, it might be a good way to, you know, help other people who have gone through the same sort of things.


But I didn’t start writing right away, I was just sort of journal writing at the time and then I actually went back to school. I took an English class, so I did learn quite a bit of helpful stuff in that class which helps me with my writing.

How does it feel to be published in the 2012 Voices of the Street anthology?

It’s quite a surprise, really. It just blows me away, actually. I was so surprised that Megaphone wanted to publish this poem a second time. I thought it was just nice they published it the first time [in the magazine].

Other than prompts in your writing workshops, where do you get your inspiration?

I just really hope I can eventually use my writing to help other people, that’s sort of the goal that I have. That’s kind of my process, I guess. I usually just go by my inspiration - a lot of the time I get ideas, and I’ll forget to write them down and then I forget what they were, but... (laughs) You know, the ideas keep coming, and that’s the main thing.


It depends on how things hit me. Sometimes I’ll see something, or hear something, or read something, and the idea just comes to me and I’ll go from there. I like writing because it’s a great way to get out things that are inside of you. It’s a way to vent, you know, to express yourself.


I thought everyone at this launch was amazing. There are some really talented people in this issue. The Thursdays Writing Collective is like that, too. There’s a huge challenge in that because some of the people who come in there are very talented.


It’s a drop-in writer’s workshop, and people just come in off the street, and they sit down with you and we all get the same prompt and we share what we’ve written. But in that way, we help each other too.

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