Monday, February 10, 2014

LIFE OF A POET - R. K. Garon of ZoralinQ

Sometimes, kids, an interviewer has to know when to just get out of the way, toss the script out the window, and let the interviewee do his thing. Such is the case with R.K.Garon, known to us familiarly as ZQ. He writes at  ZoralinQ,           and I could tell from his poetry, ZQ is a man full of stories. Buckle up, as I try to keep up!

P.U.: Hi, kiddo, I have been so looking forward to meeting you. What shall I call you for the interview?

ZQ: Calling me by a name has always been a question for me. R.K. Garon is Richard Kenneth Garon... the name I was given at birth, claims my mother. (She said she lost an argument with my father with “Richard” for her “Robin”) The Priest apparently didn’t want to hear it; so my birth certificate reads Richard “Joseph” Garon. Born on the 29th, 30th, or God knows, maybe it was the 31st of October, 1946. Hey, the war was over and there I was in a baby boom.

I will probably finish my Journal (current work, consisting of poetry, prose, and bad grammar) under the name of “Chico Garon.”

P.U.: I sense a story here, already.

ZQ: One of my heroes during my college years, hanging out at Western Mass -(UMASS Amherst, Greenfield Community, Amherst College, Hampshire, Smith, Mt Holyoke, Holyoke Community) - was a playwright I met, Fred “Chico” Garvan, who, hidden on the outskirts, nicknamed “coolie-ville,” would pop up around these campuses, or invite people to his basement for sketches/plays he was writing.

I became a player/actor in his “Buffalo Meat Co.” It was an awesome adventure. Under his encouragement I finished my first play, “I See No Prophet,” and followed his lead into “guerrilla” theater...

P.U.: Wow! How cool is that?!

ZQ: In the late 60’s and early 70’s, I had my own troupe, vagabonds, outlaws, dropouts, classmates, all awesome actors called “The Cloth and Bone Players.” Now we would probably resemble a “Flash” something or other.

Anyway,to make a long story short, the night before playing at Amherst College, an important gig for the BMCo. and Chico, I got busted. He quickly put his house up for bail, I made the gig, then we “saddled our horses,” shook hands and wished each other the best of luck. He was off to “OFF OFF Broadway,” and I headed back North. Using the name“Chico” is my respect and thanks to that wonderful creative fella.

P.U.: I knew you would have amazing stories!

Hehehehe (Las Vegas wax dummy, (the other is flesh and bones 2011))
I couldn't resist being with that gal 

ZQ: “ZQ” was/is an identity that I have assumed as a guide that takes “Me” to the edges of “ZoralinQ.” I was in the woods one day writing, staring at a grove of vivid green Pine trees, when I imagined/visualized a huge lumbering white grizzly bear, not for just a moment but for some time. (No, I was not on acid, drunk, or had to look elsewhere to refocus.) I immediately wrote “ZoralinQ” in the journal I had.

When I got back to the house, amused at what I saw and wrote, I started researching what the possibilities might be. What the heck was that all about? I have been, one way or another, on a Spiritual journey, as well as everyone else, I suppose, all my life. Not necessarily looking for the meaning of life, but me in it and what is it, that is “being” in my life. A conundrum, if you will!

The white grizzly bear still has me searching for a meaning. Anyway, the closest I could get to the word “ZoralinQ", that I accepted, was “Zora”= dawn (Slavic). “Lin”= forest (Chinese). “Q” = (for me) unknown variable.

Well, with this, it became an enlightenment for me... in my approach and understanding on how to accept things. Dawn in the forest is an unknown variable!

P.U.: Wowzers! I love the white grizzly, and the meaning you drew from the encounter.

Main Street, Belmont, NH

ZQ: And, so I begin my day. “Notes found on the refrigerator” ( and often my approach to writing) reflects my contemplative “Guide” - ZQ, myself, my conscience, my soul, to be heard above my mind.

Sometimes, I’ll free up a topic to a full blown “Hollywood” and enjoy it for what that little rascal (my mind) makes up.

So, answering your question, you can call me Richard...usually used by the police, my mother and found on my Social Security check. Or ZQ, referring to a fictitious character on a path to “rightful mindfulness,” scribbling notes as he passes unfamiliar places meant to be seen, experienced and forgotten. Or, Chico, a name I have used when I sneak into literary circles, or when I have gone out and played music. My family calls me Dick, Papa, Pop, and my grandchildren call me Oompa ......but I think for who we are talking to, current readers, ZQ would be best recognized.

Whew, that was just my name! And by the way, do you have to be P.U., or can you be Sherry?

Sherry: Ha, no one has ever asked me that. Sherry will be fine. As is ZQ. Now we had better get to work. Can you give us a glimpse of This Poet’s Life, kiddo? What part of the country do you call home? What does life look like on an ordinary day at your house?

ZQ: Home, right now, seems to be on the outskirts of ZoralinQ.

Belmont in fall

Belmont is on Lake Winnisquam,
not far from Lake Winnipesaukee

New Hampton, NH is where Katie and I raised our family. A four bedroom cape built in 1803 on sixteen acres of land. We raised four children in the same rural community, who still have strong ties there: Jesse, Abe, Emma-Rose, and Dylan; grown and still best friends. 

Sherry: It sounds wonderful.

ZQ: Katie and I lived thirty-five years together. She’s catching up to her life in Meredith, NH and I’m doing the same in Belmont, NH. We meet occasionally and affirm each other. Along with the children, we continue our family’s adventure, sharing the excitement of our lives, and the unpredictable surprises only “Garons” seem to be involved in. The family mantra... “hey, it’s all good.” 

An ordinary day in that house was a gush of living experiences and transitions, happening so quickly that all I can really remember are: hands in mittens that now hold degrees and babies. At 67 yrs. old, I actually see beyond the “father” and see the “invisible” (unnoticed to me) constant love and direction they were so lovingly nurtured towards, by their mother. They are polite, have a sense of humor, hard knocks wisdom, cautious, sometimes “chicken,”  (never Emma-Rose), and my list could go on. Thank God for parental balance! 

My four children at Sunset Lagoon, Hermit Island
The Night Before Breakfast: (Dylan, Emma-Rose, Abraham, & Jesse)

My children and I have always been best friends and yes, oh ya, we do manage to to get into and out of some amazing and wonderful interactions. "Where's Pop?" "I don't know?" "He can't be left unsupervised, check to see if his glasses are missing?" "Nope!" "His wallet?" "yup." "Oh poop, I'll check upstairs, you check the cellar, the rest of you scatter in the woods, I hope he didn't forget matches." :-)

Sherry: Cackle. I love it. A life full of love. Your children have obviously inherited your creativity, humor and charisma, kiddo.  I deeply admire the relationship you have with your wife. It takes very good-hearted people, to manage the transitions of life. Way to be.

ZQ: That smile on those kids had a great deal to do with their mother's outlook of God, family and the world. Shy and confident. well, maybe not Emma-Rose. Confident, yes. shy, no. :-)

Belmont Mill after a fire

In 2005 Katie was Diagnosed for breast cancer. I sold the company, distributed the $$ to employees, paid all my bills, and began the process of her treatment/rehab. Quite a process but we did it with joy and hope. Eight years later she's doing great, working at the New Hampton Elementary School (18+ yrs.), and independently doing things when and what she wants to do. God love her.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, me too :-) Divorced 2011, and supporting each other's direction... even if her advice to the children is "ignore him, he's fine, he'll remember where he's going when he gets there..." :-)

The mill today

Sherry: ZQ, every interview has, at its heart, a story so amazing it blows my doors off. This would be that story, and I deeply admire your support of and love for Katie. Way to be a human being, my friend.

ZQ: Today, in Belmont NH: a typical morning: I look out the back window and acknowledge the woods past a small lawn with flower beds and a garden. I go downstairs and let  Bubba, my Cocker Spaniel, out and look up Mill Street. Four small mill houses, and at the end facing them is the Mill’s old school house...with me in it, wearing PJ's, strong cup of coffee, sugar and preferably, Social Security check dependent, light cream. I usually sit at my desk and get things in order for the day to write. 

Millhouse, Pittsfield, NH

I forget Bubba is outside. I bring in a pissed off 14 year old dog (98, our time).  I blame him for my bad mood but I still feed him. He’s old, blind in one eye, and deaf as a fence post. He can, however, still muster up an attitude. 


Sherry: Bubba looks like a big old sweetie-pie!

ZQ: Of course he insisted on his grade school picture! I took a look at the old bastard, and he showed me that he still had his teeth, so I didn't argue :-) He was vaccinated Bubba Acorn Garon, but outside the house he prowls (that's a strong word) as Bubba St. Louis.

It’s usually noon already, and I haven’t written anything... so I go and look for something to eat. The day gets progressively better as I wake up. Some days I may ‘center’ or read works from mystics, prophets from the deserts, philosophers or go for a ride along Loudon Ridge, pick up fresh eggs and visit at a friend's dairy farm.

Sherry: It sounds like a nice, slow-paced, writerly way of life, which we waited a long time to enjoy, did we not?

ZQ: For the past five or six years, on Wednesday afternoon I meet with a writers' group and share work. 

Left to right in the photo are: Lynn Chong, Eileen Curran-kondrad (both retired English teachers, poets, now adjunct faculty at Plymouth State University) Mary, (retired English teacher) an incredible author/poet And Me :-) Missing from the group photo: now studying in Ireland, an up an coming novelist/Memoir writer Kellie Thompson, ...traveling through India another wonderful writer Ann Valdmanis, and Mark Flynn a young hip teacher at PSU. The group expands and contracts with writers within a year with many talented people but this is the core group.

Sherry: What an accomplished group of writers!

ZQ: Other than the above, the day is ultimately spent writing. No! What am I talking about? Ever since I decided to “write” for publication, I have been EDITING, EDITING, EDITING. I will get this thing off my desk by Spring 2014...bottom line! Cross my heart and hope to die! (That’s what I tell my patient children)

Sherry: It is Out There now. We will hold you to it!!

ZQ: What I am working on: first: in the form of Poetry/Prose/Notes... [almost done] second: some short stories...[drafts completed] and a few plays... [done and in "stage and movement" completion] third: THE NOVEL dadada dum. [Outlined and hope to finish before I go senile (although my children have claimed I've met that milestone years ago).]

I have notes and a draft for a play and an outline for a novel I need to get to. I wasn’t too happy to see these things sliding onto a “bucket list”. Shoot MaHoot, there goes another day in my life.

Sherry: They go faster, I find, each year. We have to write quickly! Is there a tale from childhood you might wish to share?

ZQ: This picture was taken as we - (my sisters and brother) - were leaving St. Peter's Orphanage/Private school (Manchester, NH) after five years living and studying there. My mother - now excommunicated, divorced in Las Vegas, re-married - is picking us up to live in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Speaking 90% Cunuck-French, I went from "Salut, comment sa va?" to "Hi, y'all" ...I did learn my manners there, no sir and yes m'am.

Sherry: Yoiks, I think we should abort the interview, and start right in on the BOOK! Seriously! When did you begin writing?

ZQ: I had two kinds of English teachers/professors: those who felt I had something to write about, but “not that way,” and those that said I should write that way, but, “think before you write about it!”

I ignored both when I was young. Later, I learned to practice what I wanted to write, allowing their ghosts to look over my shoulder. I always let them know, however, their influence is “only drafts”. Their best argument, to read good and great writers, was “if you’re going to reject or be more uniquely creative, you need to understand where they were, before you can go ahead and develop your own personal style": immeasurable.

I read enough of them to get out of ENG: 101, 102, from Joyce to Chaucer, from Shakespeare to O’Neil, to earn a degree in English. And, thanks to Camus, Bretch, Sartre, etc. ... also a BFA in theater w/minor in Philosophy. I had a grand time.

Sherry: I should say so! Great advice, to understand the masters, before creating your own path. Looking back, is there one person who really encouraged and believed in you whom you think had a significant influence on your development as a writer?

ZQ: Indirectly it was an epiphany when I heard Bob Dylan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lenny Bruce, Allen Ginsberg.

But, Dr. Harrison Butterworth - “Harry”. He received his doctorate degree in Literature from Yale University, where he received the Cook Poetry Award in 1952. Harry had a strong commitment to Quaker beliefs. He was a conscientious objector during World War II and he was later known for his opposition to the war in Vietnam. In the late 1940s, Harry and his family lived in Dublin, Ireland where he pursued his interest in Irish literature and culture. From 1953 to 1967, he lived with his family in Athens, OH, where he taught English at Ohio University, and he spent his summers on the family farm in Sharon, VT. From 1968 to 1971, he taught at New England College.

He was my greatest influence in pursuing my style of writing. He emulated my enigmatic NH hero, J.D.Salinger. He encouraged me for the two years I lived and wrote there at his Gulliver’s Stables Horse farm. He had me direct the “Tempest” with the local community players and act in a Concord NH presentation of the “H.M.S. Pinafore.” (Oh ya that was a stinkin’ blast, dancing with the rest of the sailors for my room and board.)

Did I mention the Irish writers that I had to read ? I ended up naming my guitar “Oona” after Oona O'Neill, Eugene O’Neill’s daughter who married Charlie Chaplin.

Harry was an amazing friend. I met him in State Prison where he was teaching creative writing, and I was keeping an ‘Outlaw Journal.’ Several years after my release (possession of heroin), he invited me to write at his farm. Many great adventures in writing, reading, stories, and traveling; giving presentations at NE Quaker conferences/meetings, meeting houses, cafes, and homes.

I have always been around people that encouraged and supported me. I’ve always written something since I can remember. Not really on paper at first, sometimes they were just the way I was seeing things. I was near sighted. Anything that was far had to be recognized by movement or gesture. Literally! And of course, in those days, I didn’t exactly want to sit in front of the class. ( Now I sit in front to hear).

Growing up for me was a force of perpetual motion, never static enough to piss on my own hydrant - meaning I never had “territory. “

Sherry: I have completely stopped interviewing you, and am just sitting here, soaking up the tales!

ZQ: There I was melting like butter in a frying pan, sliding into a hot bath when T.S. Eliot pops in my mind's living room, (unexpectedly of course, the bathroom is occupied :-)), and reminds me of the influence he made in my life that started my taking poetry as an awesome arena; after I read and read "The love song of J Alfred Prufrock" - the style, the rhythm, the rhyme in lines just when it is supposed to, and the story's personal journey...I sigh just writing this.

Anyway, to make a short story long, T.S. Eliot had influence in/on my writing. If it's good, of course - if it's terrible, he mumbled someone's name I couldn't hear on his way out.

Sherry: Good poetry can knock me out. And often does.

ZQ: I have completed Masters studies (MACP) and field work in Behavioral Psychology, and went as far as working on my MBA studies. All, by the way, not for a career, but for a better understanding of myself and my writing.

I wanted to be a political cartoonist in high school (my characters were influenced by Mad magazine… the Cast and the mishandling of learning relevance to ALL students, ignoring the welder, rocker, mechanic, author, day care worker, was fodder for ridicule in humorous satire at that time.

Plus, armed with the first four years of Jesuit teaching under the discipline of THE Gray Nuns (grade 10 in most schools) and Southern Charm from the pan handle of Florida, it became clear from the eighth grade on, that I started learning what I wanted to know, come hell or high water. Five years of high school, total of 180 days absent. Didn’t graduate. Shit! This time I’m in the front seat. I put the pedal to the metal, and roar into the kaleidoscope of 1964...1969 spitting me out into rehabilitation in 1970…1980 to land where I am now 2014.

My life (personally) as an enigmatic writer/…photographer, playwright, song writer/musician, poet, space catcher, has never been static. It was eked out during times of labor and love or released in bursts of isolation when space presented itself. And expressed quite freely.

Sherry: I love that about you! (Isn't this a trip, kids?)

ZQ: I did have to go to work though. What money the “art” would kick in from playing music in bars was spent, getting there, food for “yur girl,” cigs, and broken strings. Food and Booze was usually free for the musician(s). Poetry readings? Oh ya, without a book, the pay is “pleasure.” Plays were good, with grant $ from “Cultural Foundations,” but they too only paid for back rent and money borrowed during “unpaid rehearsals.” Final curtain…steak dinner. Show up with gratitude the next day at your regular job.

Sherry: Which was?

ZQ: I've been a CEO for a Contract Support Group for a manufacturing plant; President Of ILS (Independent Labor Systems) non-profit Labor Hall for the dis-abled; Dir Of Vocational Services Easter Seal-Goodwill of NH; Vocational Consultant to NE de-institutionalization process; and an Adjunct trainer in Behavioral teaching:Learning channels screenings. This is the person my children and town saw.

Sherry: It's an impressive work history, and I love that you worked in areas of service. Would you tell us about your life with music?

ZQ: A lot of back seats, singing songs from “Sur le pon D’avignon,” to Jingle Bells.” Oh, and lest I forget, every imaginable Hymn or Spiritual from “He’s got the whole world in His Hands,” to “The Old Rugged Cross.”

ZQ: This is my oldest son, Jesse Damien. I always enjoy when he plays with me. He's patient with my inability to keep consistent time, but does very well playing lead within my structure. Worfield Circle was his home band/CD, an amazing lead guitarist ;-) We were warming up to play at a local tavern that weekend.


I don't think anyone at that time was looking for posterity. It was what you did in those days. write, paint, sing, dance, wherever there was an audience. No big thing. Take what you can carry and leave after some wine and a good meal/get together. At that time no one was looking for fame or fortune, only affirmation from your peers, and sharpening your art.

The only thing I have ever collected in my life is my mother's bible, my guitar, and my children. Oh ya, I can't shake Bubba.

Sherry: I can't think of a happier life than one spent making music. Sometimes I ask what's the wildest thing you ever did. But I think you have already covered that nicely, kiddo. And I suspect it is merely the tip of the iceberg. But you have to save some stories for The Book!

This has been a cool walk on the free-spirited side of life. Best place to be! It sounds like your life was a total blast. Is there anything else you'd like to share with Poets United?

ZQ: Yes.

Minnows at my feet

I seldom rush anymore and when I do, I am still late.

What, all of sudden am I doing? I’m dying, what’s the rush?

Now you, you are alive. Fulfill your dreams,
create memories, great moments.

I am on my way. Yes, I see the minnows at my feet
taking their time, catching me up to the day.

Now, as for me and my resources....;)

Sherry: I love this poem so much and, since we are the same age, it resonates with me deeply. I love your birdhouse, too! Thank you, my friend, it has truly been a pleasure. And a great deal of fun!

Well, kids? What do you think? A busy, free-spirited, varied, no-holds-barred, joyous, adventurous and riotous life. One can do no better. My work here is done!

Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you. (But don't ask ZQ what the process is like; he says I made him work way too hard!)


  1. Wow, ZQ, you definitely have lived a colorful and diverse life, and it seems your life could easily be the subject matter of several books! Interesting that you play the guitar too. And also heart-warming to see how you and your ex-wife have worked things out. Good luck with all your goals. Nice finding out more about you here at PU. Thanks, Sherry, for another fascinating interview!

  2. Thank you ZQ for sharing these snippets of your eventful life. You seem to have encountered lots of fascinating people on the way. Interesting that you got an MACP to know yourself better and improve your writing rather than for a career.
    Sherry, thanks a lot for yet another great interview!

  3. Love "Minnows at my Feet" and your storytelling fervor, long form or short. You've put a joyous spirit into this interview. Thank you for bringing your poems here to share with us. I'm about 5 years younger than you, always working on my first book too. I wonder which of us will get there first?

    Thanks again, for this series of interviews Sherry, where we look behind the poems.

  4. I always say I have the best job in the world. I loved working with ZQ on this interview - I had so much fun - and hope you did, too, ZQ!

    1. Oh ya! your reward is in heaven :-) You kept it clean and Bubba is grateful for that. He loved his picture by the way...

  5. hey lets take more about your troupe of ruffian to meet you all the more sir...thanks for the peek on your writing group as well....i could have guessed the guitar by the way you write....

    1. thats supposed to be talk...i am half delirious, touch of the flu...ha...

  6. That was a heck of a ride. Another great interview. What a journey! Thank Q, ZQ & PU.

  7. What an enjoyable interview...ZQ, your autobiography would be fascinating to read. :)

  8. what a rollicking fun interview!
    Sherry, it's wise you let ZQ did most of the talking. :)

  9. That was a lot of fun thanks ZQ and Sherry :)

  10. Great interview Sherry....and thanks ZQ for such an interesting Minnows at my feet....

  11. Wow, what an enthralling interview. Somehow I have missed seeing ZQ's blog — but will definitely be reading it now!

  12. I sooo very much enjoyed this interview. Occasionally ZQ would leave his T.M. as a comment on a few of my poems. I still don't know how to thank him (Thank you, ZQ, if you read these comments still). Creative Googling got you found here for my catching up.
    I can relate to quite a bit of his story. I've had several lives and about the time he was getting loose I was set loose in the husband way. I had a very enjoyable three years, riding my motorcycle, working, and mingling with the hippies and musical groups.
    Before that, between '61 and '64 I lived in New Hampshire. I did a lot of highways, backwoods roads, the hills, and lots of small towns with my Vespa motor scooter. And I have five kids but am somewhat older than ZQ. I loved his 'Minnow' poem.
    I'll check ZoralinQ in the morning. Thank you Sherry.

  13. This interview was absolutely enthralling and yes the book must follow - as a must-to-be-written/must read! An absolute pleasure to meet you RK and a wonderful job by Sherry - that I am going to share on my time-line. Bravo to you both!


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