One day, Richard Green yelled at a teenage grocery store clerk in Kaslo, who denied him a plastic shopping bag.
Green argued that importing kiwis in from halfway around the world and throwing the unsold ones away has a much bigger impact on the environment than a plastic bag, but when he left the store he reprimanded himself: “That wasn’t too good Rick, it isn’t the poor kid that is making those decisions.”
Though strong in his opinions, for the most part, Green shares them with a pen under the name Rick the Poet Warrior.
With titles like COVID SCENE SEEN, Be Afraid Beaveree Eh Frayed and Cedric The Rednek Rights Pomes, Green takes on everything from politics to homelessness to consumerism.
He jokes no one is safe as he is critical of every group, movement and idea.
|Just a few covers of the books Richard Green, aka, Rick the Poet Warrior, has written.
Green has been homeless since 2004. He hitchhikes and bikes around B.C., wintering in Victoria and more recently spending summers in Revelstoke.
“The people were nice so I came back,” he said.
Green started his homeless career, as he calls it, after getting laid off from a job at a summer camp in Alberta.
With a newly welded bicycle cart made by a friend in town, he rode west.
At the time he survived by binning – pulling bottles from the trash and cashing them in as well as recovering food, which isn’t as lucrative as it used to be, he said.
He spent at least one summer living in a campground outside of Banff, laughing at people who drove in from the city for the weekend, who made $150,000 but only had a few days off a year.
“I am doing better without the money than all of these guys with the money,” he recalled thinking.
At the moment, Green survives on pension and panhandling, either couch surfing at a friend’s, squatting in a forgotten apartment or spending a night in a park.
With no vices but cigarettes and cannabis, and a sister in Ontario to who he’s close, Green considers himself one of the lucky ones.
Writing poetry to keep out of trouble, Green said he always has 100,000 projects on the go.
“If you really write, you write first for yourself,” he said. “And then if you share it you are lucky.”
He opines about politics, history, poverty and is working on deciphering the English language – which he discovered is “bullshit” after reading an anthology of the greatest literature of the 18th century.
In his book, MOReON How to Write Pro$eperly, he pointed out the inconsistent rules of the language:
I’ve been writing up a storm
It’s this stupid English language
His colourful, plastic-comb-bound books, labelled “for in-library use only” can be found in the back corner of the Revelstoke library.
Community librarian Lucie Bergeron said it’s important for Green’s poetry to be read as it lends insight to the lives of the homeless.
“You do see people treated with a lot of intolerance and way less compassion than they deserve,” she said.
Bergeron has known Green for five years, meeting him when he first came into the library. She credits Green with her increased understanding and compassion for people who are homeless, describing him as an approachable ambassador for the community.
“I find his writing very clever,” she said.
Though at the moment Green’s books are uncatalogued, Bergeron hopes they will one day become a part of the greater library system.
In his 2020 poetry collection about COVID, Green wrote,
I much prefer this virus
Much more than nuclear war
At least my friends The Poor
Will have enough warning
To kiss their ass goodbye.
Green was born in New Brunswick but grew up in Scarborough outside Toronto.
He credited teacher Mr. Rogers, who he recalled as having red hair and a yellow and orange check tweed jacket, with introducing him to poetry with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Another teacher, Mrs. Rideout who taught Grade 12 English, “almost made Shakespeare interesting,” and introduced Green to George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.
Despite the interest in literature in school, Green had no intention of pursuing it as a career.
“I wasn’t going to be a poet at 14 years old, screw that!”
He started a marketing administration degree at Seneca College but didn’t finish it, blaming his newfound wanderlust.
Over the years, he moved back and forth across the country, working sales jobs until he couldn’t stand the corporation anymore and then tried his hand at computer programming, which he eventually studied at college.
With that education under his belt, he travelled to Egypt to work for the Multinational Force and Observers.
He spent a year living in a compound in the Sinai desert, exploring the region, seeing the extravagantly rich in Cairo and the poor living just outside the compound, who climbed poles to siphon electricity.
“I was going to write a book about all of that, but scrapped my notes because we signed these secrecy documents,” he said.
Upon returning to Canada, he dabbled as an entrepreneur, but couldn’t handle being a part of the system he had grown to despise– Green doesn’t believe business should override morals.
“You don’t get rich by being a nice guy,” he said.
In one of his books, called, Top 56 Wages to Kill The Rich, Green suggests force-feeding the Rich brand name confectionery.
“Then roll them down a ramp into a giant vat of over their head whipped cream. Top with shaved truffles. Serves many and serves them good.”
|Richard Green writes poetry under the nom de plume Rick the Poet Warrior. Homeless, Green sometimes spends his summers in Revelstoke but winters in Victoria, travelling to Ontario to visit his sister whenever he can. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
Though Green said cycling saved his life and living outside does a lot of good for his health, at 66 years old he is getting too old to live on the streets. At the same time, he doesn’t really know if he wants to be housed.
“I have a feeling I am supposed to stay on the streets and do my duty to God, or the nation or the universe here on the streets,” he said.
His duty? Listening.
Green has one friend who continuously thanks him for saving his life. While that feels good, Green said he is not the reason his friend is still alive.
“It’s all our own choices.”
Green might sometimes yell at a store clerk or loudly claim “God told me” when questioned on the street, you will just as soon see city employees saying hello and waving as they drive by or local librarians sitting down to help him plan a book tour.
Green’s goal “before he dies” is to finish publishing his collection of 40 books of poetry.
Although, with all the people who stop to talk to him, he worries it might take longer than he planned.
Find Green’s poetry online here authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?authorid=100375