Shredding Plywood by Richard Dittami

Poems by Richard Dittami
Paintings by Louise Cloutier

  • Black Dog & One-Eyed Press, Summer 2020
  • 84 pages
  • Softcover
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-9952654-6-2 

        Cover painting by Norene Smiley

To order Shredding Plywood, send an email and an e-transfer for $20 + hst + $6 postage (within Canada) = $29 to [email protected]. If you wish to pay using PayPal, or order multiple copies, or are ordering from outside Canada, send us an email with your address and we will send you an invoice.

Richard Dittami is a lifelong writer of poems, stories and children’s tales. He is also a lifelong tradesman and a retiree of the Laborers International Union of North America. He lives in Nova Scotia with his partner Louise Cloutier.

Author photo by Catherine Bussiere

Louise Cloutier, The Mechanic, 2018, Acrylic on Canvas, 30” x 15”

Louise Cloutier is a painter and art educator living in Nova Scotia.

Louise Cloutier, The Mechanic, 2018, Acrylic on Canvas, 30” x 15”

Praise for Shredding Plywood 

Richard’s poems are madly compassionate and gravely sane contemplations on the nature of extinction, evolution, and civilization. Addressing issues of alienation and constructs of belonging, they are good company in lonely places.” 

—erika white, writer and publisher, broken rules press 

How fitting that a construction worker turned Beat poet should bind his journey with soulful cement mixed from our shared earthly afflictions, the Anthropocene ecocide and a hunger for spiritual transcendence. Richard Dittami’s Shredding Plywood is a collection forged, line by image, with mortar, intelligent grit and human sweat; brave poems chronicle working class characters, raise questioning skyscrapers, and conjure questing interior landscapes.  Moving between the ebbs and surges of manic depression, brutalizing strip malls, and folks feasting on steroidal chickens, Dittami’s wide-eyed truth telling veers off into road trips as he tracks planetary and human degradation that parallels mental illness and a widespread soul sickness. Yet, harmony comes via Brian Wilson and Walt Whitman, hope through dialogue with Ginsberg who guides him to the Buddha and the wisdom to embrace relationship and romantic love.  Vibrant paintings by Louise Cloutier capture the spiritual and physical solace inherent in Atlantic whitecaps, palm trees, the exuberant diversity of wildlife and our fellow humans whose depicted beauty serves to expose our willful blindness, for we too, are wounded animals, “scratching at an extinct self.” But human unity is possible and Dittami’s poems call us to exercise a visionary courage and choose a different outcome. The universe is ruled by impermanence these verses tell us, by Change and a steady grace.” 

—Giovanna Riccio, author of Plastic’s Republic 

Richard Dittami is my cousin, and a great friend. But even if he were not my cousin I would read his poems with the same pleasure. His writing sings.” 

—Paul Theroux, award-winning novelist and travel writer, author of The Mosquito Coast 

In Shredding Plywood Richard Dittami keeps us awake by shunning the predictable and through unexpected metaphors and images like ‘Tornadoes of electronic opinion’ , ‘Angels that trace a disappearing shoreline, playing requiems for species departed…’. Many pieces are close to meditation, and many are beautifully attentive, clearly attuned to the transience of life. There is intelligence, philosophical reference, a love of language, as in ‘images that strike the psyche like typewriter keys’ or ‘They’re in communion with communion’, and a harking back to unlearned lessons. Whether he is using a poetic or prose form, the poet’s forays into accumulated background knowledge reminds us of our place in the context of world and the universe.  All these layers overlap, offering a palimpsest for the reader to scrape away at often in order to discover even more layers underneath.” 

—Claudia Coutu Radmore, writer and publisher, catkin press 

i love Richard, i appreciate his lyrics. i like his anger, i admire his courage to speak out loudly.” 

—harvey lev