Accidental Poet Rick Leddy

In conversation with local author and poet Rick Leddy

PHOTO: Steven Lawrence | | Author and poet Rick Leddy

Local author and poet, Rick Leddy, has lived in South Pasadena for 17 years, having come into the area in 2000 after living in downtown Los Angeles for 10 years. Leddy and his wife enjoyed living the artist’s loft lifestyle but when his son was four years old, they began to think about schools which, not surprisingly, led them to South Pas.

Leddy says, “I love this place, I mean it’s great. We used to come here with our son when he was a toddler and then found our house in 2000. It’s hard to believe it’s been 17 years.”

Leddy majored in journalism although he explains “I always wanted to be a political cartoonist and journalism was to be my fallback.” He chuckles at the memory, “oh to be young again.” In fact, Leddy did do political cartooning for many years which led him into graphics and he eventually became the art director for a magazine. He stayed in art direction and was art director for one magazine for 14 years.

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During the economic downturn, Leddy was laid off as art director and says, “you know how it is, sending out resumes into that black hole called the internet…you don’t get a lot of responses. So I was working at a friend’s law office downtown and taking the metro every day and one of those days, as I was looking around me, it was like a light went off.” Leddy recounts that although he had never written poetry before “everything suddenly came at me in poetry,” he explains, “just watching…it all suddenly seemed new and my mind was on fire.”

PHOTO: | Metro Mona Lisa, Rick Leddy’s collection of poems about life in and around downtown Los Angeles

He began writing the poems down and they eventually made their way into his first collection of poems entitled Metro Mona Lisa, about his downtown travels. In the process of putting the poems into book form, he realized he could use his art direction background to design his own book, which he did. He points out that he didn’t lay it out like most poetry books in that he included a lot of photos and has a bit of a poetry meets magazine kind of feel.

The poems  take a deep dive into the minutiae of urban days and are full of keen observations told with an absurdist wit that is hilarious, jarring and poignant all at once.

Metro Mona Lisa was an epiphany moment for Leddy when the idea of being a poet began to feel like a real thing he could do. He says it really came from left field but he embraced it and the poetry kept on coming.

Leddy’s most recent book of poetry is a collection that came from a challenge he gave himself; to write a poem a day. Come hell or high water, he would write a poem every day. Twenty days into it, his father passed away suddenly. Many of the poems grew out of Leddy’s daily observations of his own grief along with all the mundane and crazy ups and downs of a year, from his daughter’s bad break-up to the political season that was 2016 and all the encounters one has in the course of a year.

PHOTO: | 365+1 A Year of Beauty and Madness, a collection of daily poems over the course of a year

The result is revelatory, deeply personal yet universal. The book is entitled 365+1  A Year of Beauty and Madness. Poet and editor Eric Herman describes it as “both uniquely observational and deeply introspective. His free-verse lens reveals an emotional landscape of turmoil, irony and contradiction, as well as humor and reconciliation. He fluidly moves from pangs of grief and impatience to wistful yarns of beauty and untethered imagination. While there’s a timeless quality to his work, it’s also a perfect companion for these uncertain days.”

Says Leddy, “every year is a remarkable year for anybody; all of us have different stories, all of us are a story.”

Leddy’s books are available on Amazon and locally at the SouthPasadenan local authors bookstore at 1127 Mission Street.