Wednesday writer: Bryan P.T. Riley

Bryan P.T. Riley

The vitals

NAME: Bryan P.T. Riley

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Danvers, Massachusetts

CURRENT BASE: Amesbury, Massachusetts

FIELDS: Poetry, fiction

LATEST MILESTONE: “In Other Words …” the False Prophet Said (Suburban Platitudes). My 14th book of poetry, available through, Barnes and and a host of third-party sites.

Some telling details

How do you go about working? I clean the house before I write. I can’t concentrate if I know the house is dirty.

Early bird or night owl? I do most of my writing on Tuesday afternoons. Tuesday is my day off from my paying job.

What do you collect? Severed heads

What is the weirdest space you’ve ever written in? The bathroom.

Does the space where do you usually write have a window? I have a window that looks out over a lake with a wooded hill on the opposite shore.

For a getaway? Seashore. I find the rhythm of the waves soothing, and the vastness of the ocean really puts my place in the universe into perspective

Something you’d change if you could? I would have been more aggressive in my youth in pursuing things that are important to me. I have a tendency to put the needs of others way before my own. It is only in the last ten years that I have realized that if I take care of myself first, everything else will fall into place (rather nicely, I might add).

Social cause or activity? I am currently leading a movement to institute a Poet Laureate post for Amesbury. I am dedicated to the promotion of the spoken word. To that end, I have founded a monthly open mic in Amesbury called the Prime Time Poets.

What comfort food would match your mood now? Smoked rack of ribs with cole slaw, corn on the cob and Boston baked beans. Yum!

Coffee or tea? Coffee all day, although I do enjoy a cup of Irish breakfast tea.

Any tattoos? My first wife told me if I ever got a tattoo, she would divorce me. When we got separated, it was one of the first things I did.

When it comes to writing, who are your patron saints – the people you turn to for energy or inspiration or admire the most? I love Billy Collins’ way of turning a poem around and leading you in a completely different direction than you thought you were going in. I love the imagery of Seamus Heaney and Pablo Neruda. I try to read a lot of lesser-known poets as well. My two current favorites are Debora Greger and Mekeel McBride.

What question would you most like to be asked? What does the P.T. stand for in my name? It varies. Most commonly it’s “Prime Time,” but it has been “Partially Terrified,” “Pretty Terrific,” whatever comes to mind at the time…


The advice I would give anyone who has even a smidgeon of talent at anything would be what my mother said to me right before she died: “If you have something amazing inside of you that’s burning to get out, you must share that thing with others.” I would add to that by saying that the only way to get better at anything, even writing, is to practice, and spend time around other people who are doing the same thing, and learn. Keep your mind open to all possibilities, and your path will become evident. Constant forward motion is the cure for many things. Keep pursuing. Die trying.

 A favorite sample

I thought God had abandoned me but then I found Him one day, waiting for me, right where I had left Him.

Lucky is the person who makes his or her own luck.


 Bryan can be found hosting the Prime Time Poets reading series on the third Tuesday of the month in Amesbury.


Wednesday Writer is a weekly feature profiling devoted writers of all stripes, most of them laboring outside the celebrity spotlight. To my mind, they are the lifeblood of the literary world, both as active readers and exponents of the empowered word.