Ryan Guth


16 Rachel Drive No. 1
Jackson, TN 38305

Author's Bio

I’ve reluctantly chosen to be listed under the “poetry” category, although my work dips its toes into both “fiction” and “creative nonfiction,” as well as a variety of textual formats – verse, prose, drama, and some hybrids of my own invention. But “poetry” seems the most inclusive of the three, since it has traditionally allowed for the interplay of fact, fiction, and memory. In fact, that interplay itself is one of my own central artistic concerns.

My first book, Home Truths (2006; revised/expanded edition 2018) is a speculative reconstruction of events that occurred in my family before I was born. While working on the individual pieces in this volume, I found myself more and more fascinated by the possibilities of the sequence or collection itself as a literary medium. It seemed to me that a series of independent but linked “snapshots” of lyric and narrative moments, employing different perspectives, techniques, and even genres, could perhaps get closer to the texture of lived experience than either the focussed narrative of a novel or the inevitable discreteness of the miscellaneous volume of poetry. Such a linked sequence can reflect the ways in which any human life intersects with other lives, stories and points of view, while at the same time privileging one of those lives or stories as the ultimate center of attention. Primary influences on Home Truths are Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, Robert Lowell’s Life Studies, and Marilyn Nelson’s The Homeplace.

In my second book, Body and Soul (2015), the separateness of individual pieces – heightened by shifts in format and point of view – allowed me to portray the many contradictions and disruptions in the life of my main character, an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse suffering from gaps and distortions of memory as well as intermittent episodes of dissociative identity disorder, involving the formation of several distinct “alter” personalities. Simultaneously, the relationships between individual pieces, as well as their more-or-less chronological arrangement in the book, serve to narrate her efforts to reintegrate the alters and construct a functional, coherent adult personality. In developing the repertoire of techniques necessary for writing Body and Soul as I conceived it, James Joyce’s Ulysses and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Storyteller provided examples and points of departure; I also took some cues from the drama-form technique employed in Truman Capote’s Music for Chameleons. The extraordinary complexity of this character and her story took the better part of twelve years to research and write.

My current work in progress, another “mixed-genre novel” tentatively titled Livings, focusses on a specific period (1845-1850) in the lives of the famous Brontë family, with an emphasis on their interactions as a family unit: four highly gifted, eccentric adult siblings and their equally unusual father, living under the same roof in an isolated industrial village in northern England. How do these five personalities, intimately sharing an extremely limited fund of incident and event, create such widely divergent inner lives for themselves? What causes them to react so differently to the basic human experiences of unrequited love, religious feeling, grief, and mortality? What do they reveal to (and conceal from) each other, within the close confines of a shared home, and how are they seen by the villagers surrounding them? This material seems well-suited to my preoccupation with intersecting narratives and interpretations, and the methods I have developed for writing about them.

Publications & Prizes

Home Truths (revised/expanded edition) (Transcendent Zero Press, 2018)
Body and Soul (Lummox Press, 2015)
Home Truths (Alsop Review Press, 2006)
Journals: ,
Iron Horse Literary Review
Lummox Journal
River City

Personal Favorites

Favorite authors: 
James Joyce Edgar Lee Masters Emily Bronte Toni Morrison Truman Capote

More Information

Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Prefers to work with: 
Fluent in: 
Born in: 
Raised in: 
Dayton, OH
Please note: All information in the Directory is provided by the listed writers or their representatives.
Last update: Aug 13, 2018