Culture & Conversation

The local trickster

Jay Winston Ritchie once did something I’ve never seen done— he crashed a reading. Not completely, but kind of. Adorned in a long skirt, Matthew E. Duffy took to the mic to read from an epic romantic poem. Five minutes into the reading, I caught a looming image of Jay approaching the mic. I continued to watch Jay grab Duffy’s attention and proceed to position himself in front of the microphone.

“Uh, hi, I hear this is supposed to be a dance party—I hear this party could possibly be an amazing dance party—when are we going to start dancing,” he asked, blatantly interrupting Duffy’s set.

Of all the things Jay could have done or said that night, the interruption of a passionate reading to publicly announce his excitement for a dance party never crossed my mind. I like this. I like to be surprised.

As I sat there, being the one who had organized the night, I debated whether or not to step in. I didn’t. Jay stood up there looking at the audience for a moment, then retreated back to the floor to sit amongst the audience.

This act solidified Jay in my mind as some sort of local trickster (not to be mistaken by local hipster). His presence at a reading electrifies the room. You never know if he’s going to have something up his sleeve or what.

Jay is one of the funniest and most refreshing readers and writers I know. He’s the kind of writer I would show to my older brother or 21-year-old cousin to try and convince them of poetry’s coolness. His fiction was shortlisted for the LitPop awards last year and word has it he has some cool new projects in the works.

Jay answered The Whether You Like It Or Not Interview in his own, unique way. Check it out below.

Who are you?

What have you been reading?

Short fiction by Diane Williams (Excitability, a collection of her first three books – This Is About the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time, and Fate; Some Sexual Success Stories Plus Other Stories in Which God Might Choose to Appear; and The Stupefaction)

Lady Sings the Blues by Billie Holiday (an autobiography)

The Konjaku Monogatarishū (a Japanese anthology of fairy tale-like stories)

Star In the Eye by James Shea (poetry)

short stories by Chekhov

Why do you write?


Where is your favourite place to write?


What books or authors have impacted you the most?

Margaret Atwood – Surfacing was the most affecting

J.D. Salinger – 9 Stories in particular

Richard Brautigan – The Pill vs. The Springhill Mine Disaster, especially

Haruki Murakami


What is good writing?


Do you have any favourite words?


Could you recommend three books?
Surfacing by Margaret Atwood

How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

Drown by Junot Díaz