Art through words

By RICK WATSON
Posted 7/10/18

Ryan Tittle of Sumiton autographing his latest work "EONS and  Eons and other Love Poems."

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

Art through words

Posted

SUMITON — Ryan Tittle is a prolific writer, but his latest work, "EONS and other Love Poems," took a lifetime to write.

Before Tittle was old enough to drive, he knew what he wanted to do with his life. When Tittle was eight years old, he wrote his first story on an old manual typewriter that his father found in their attic. 

“I went to a private school and didn’t ride a school bus, so I didn’t get a chance to interact with kids my age,” Tittle said. He said his overactive imagination had to go somewhere. So, he wrote stories.

The Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) accepted Tittle when he was 11 years old. The school is considered one of the 10 best high schools in America. His focus was in theatre arts. He wanted to learn everything about theatre.

“The dust off the curtains gets into the blood of the people in the theatre, and we get hooked,” he said.

Tittle, who lives in Sumiton, toyed with the idea of acting for a while, but his first love was writing.

“I realized it was what I was put on earth to do,” he said.  “I love bending the English language to my heart’s desire.”

ASFA was a remarkable experience for young writers, but there were obstacles. “With a school full of weirdos, I was the weirdo,” Tittle said.

He said he dressed in high school the way he dresses now.

“I’m out of step with my generation. Also, the school’s academic standards are so high that kids tend to have premature gray hair,” he said. It was not uncommon to rehearse plays from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. “You had no time to develop a personal life,” he remembered.

One thing Tittle discovered was, “You don’t learn playwriting in high school.” He had to learn it by himself.

After high school, Tittle attended Bennington College in Vermont. While there, he had an opportunity to study with David Henry Hwang in New York City for two years. Hwang was the first Asian-American playwright to win a Tony Award.

According to Tittle, Huang found success by taking stories from his own culture and American culture and clashing them on stage.

“After working with David, I started writing about the south again,” Tittle said. Huang was a direct influence on his writing.

After college, Tittle returned to Birmingham. He had an opportunity to study with Lee Shackleford who taught playwriting at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

“Lee Shackelford was the first to encourage me.  He gave me an award that he’d won for his most successful play,” Tittle said. But his first career success came when a publisher pickup up one of his plays. “This was a big deal for me,” Tittle said.

After Tittle’s work matured, he authored over 40 scripts for the stage in addition to poems, essays, film reviews, humor and religious criticism. Under the pseudonym Robert Cole, his plays have been published by Eldridge Plays and Musicals and Holly Grove Press. His plays have been performed throughout the country. 

“It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve grown more as a person,” said Tittle.

He doesn’t write about hot-button topics you see in the headlines each day. He writes about things that aren’t going away – Love, God, death and taxes.

“No matter where we are in a hundred years, these things will still resonate,” he said. “Words that resonate will be the only way I can live forever.”

"EONS and other Love Poems," the book of poetry is autobiographical.

 Some people think the world is a comedy and some think the world is a tragedy. “I believe a lot of people want escapism and entertainment,” Tittle said.

People have always been supportive, but there’s been a lot of positive reaction to this latest book, according to Tittle.

“I think because I waited,” he said.

Tittle decided to make a move. He got tired of the rejection. But he understood writing is a difficult business. In 2014, he loaded all his belongings into a trailer with a tarp and headed out to Montgomery. He drove into a storm. The straight-line winds and rain destroyed many of his cherished pictures. After that event, he sat down and wrote one of the poems in his new book entitled, “Sifting Through Damage.” He continued writing poetry during this period of his life.

He composed enough poems for a new book. He released "EONS and other Love Poems" on May 1 of this year. It is available on Amazon.com, Booksamillion.com, BN.com (Barnes & Noble), and Lulu.com.

“Writing poetry is such a personal thing,” Tittle said. “When you put your work out there, it’s like shedding your skin. It’s difficult. But at the same time, everyone has had the experience of being in love and what that means."

He thinks this is what makes "EONs" a universal book that a lot of people will enjoy.

“I wrote some bad poetry when I was younger, and hopefully none of it survived,” he said. Waiting to write this book of poems was key because he now has years of experience behind him. He said one of his best comments to date is, “It’s not as sad as I thought it would be.”

Tittle is a graduate of Athens State University (BA, English, Kappa Delta Pi and cum laude honors), Bennington College (BA, Drama/Theatre), and the Alabama School of Fine Arts.

He is currently working on his masters in religion through Graceland University’s Community of Christ Seminary.