Ruth Madievsky: Chemist, Poet
  Conversations    February 21, 2016     The Last Bookstore



Ruth Madievsky releases her first book of poetry Emergency Brake from our very own Last Bookstore this Thursday (2/25) at 8pm. This is a party, with readings, refreshments and special guests Cecilia Woloch and David St. John.  Here she is …




Last Bookstore:  First things first, pizza or tacos?

Ruth Madievsky:  First question going straight for the jugular! Pizza and tacos are two of my great loves, but I think Los Angeles wins on the taco front. Eating at Guisados brings me a borderline illegal amount of joy.



LBS: What was the first story or poem you ever wrote?

RM: I wrote a mortifying sonnet in early high school, confessing my love for a guy I barely knew but had idealized beyond recognition. I referred to him as “The Prince,” which should tell you everything you need to know about how much romantic experience I had.


LBS: We hear your day job is pretty demanding. How do you balance art with life, do you find they reflect in one another?

RM: I’ve been surprised to find that spending most of my time in the pharmacy world gives me an intense drive to write whenever I can. Part of it is FOMO (fear of missing out)— I’m always afraid my peers who are going down a more traditional literary route are writing so much more than me. Studying human health and working closely with patients also gives me a lot to think about, which works its way into my poetry.


LBS: Are you for writing craft books or against them? Any you’d recommend?

RM: I’m pro-craft-books, because I’ve read some great ones. For poetry, Mary Ruefle’s Madness, Rack, and Honey is incomparable. For fiction, I’m partial to Stephen King’s On Writing.


LBS: What author(s) do you think are under-appreciated?

RM: I’ve been a longtime fan of Cecilia Woloch’s work. Her free verse poetry is gorgeous, and her pantoums are the best I’ve ever read. Jay Nebel’s first book of poems, Neighbors, completely destroyed me. Everyone alive should read that book. I feel crazy lucky to get to read with Cecilia at my Los Angeles book launch and with Jay at my launch in Portland.


LBS: You’re a Los Angeles transplant, have you discovered any favorite places to write and/or read in Los Angeles?

RM: I love perusing the shelves at Central Library and sitting down with an enormous stack of books. I’ve spent entire afternoons reading there, pausing only to write, eat, wonder if the guy with the headphones is following me, etc.


LBS: Ok, here’s a fun one. You’re stuck on a desert island, what three books do you bring?

RM: Your idea of fun makes me want to pop a Xanax. But here we go. For fiction, I’d bring George Saunder’s Tenth of December. For poetry, Matthew Dickman’s Mayakovsky’s Revolver. For nonfiction, Jo Ann Beard’s The Boys of My Youth. I’m always returning to those writers, always finding something new in their work.


LBS: Lastly, where can we find out more about you?

RM: You can find me at, on twitter at @ruthmadievsky, and in line at Guisados.


Ruth Madievsky


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