SW Writers Q & A



and I'm just thrilled to have both of these writers here and I had the opportunity to read work by both of them and get caught up on everything I wasn't familiar with and seeing these themes weave in and out of their work together I was kind of congratulating myself what a great looking to have these two people here at the same time you know how'd you do then and the fact is I didn't it just happened but very happy body so let's start the reading I'm going to start this off with you a question just waiting really begin with the breath I fought that title so bad I hate that title so much I must do differently 200 alternative titles so there wouldn't be that I hate it so much and and I have to admit they were right and how you said to that we just without going into the the whole presentation you would give it a conference or seminar well by the book here that goes without saying you know I think I realized it's the most then your new poetry collection fretwork is quite autobiographical what can you do with autobiographical material in poetry it can't be done in a prose memoir you can tell the story horses sink yeah I think you're able to distill a story so that you plan is real essence and what are the most important things that you're trying to convey maybe not the most important things in the story but what you as the author allowed to come out of the story so I think that's that's well Lorraine as we most of us know Father's Day is Sunday and few writers that dealt with fathers in coping with their losses you have just heard I've noticed recently too though that a lot of British and American detective shows i watch such as broadchurch and Bosch feature of father navigating a difficult relationship with his daughter what makes the father-daughter relationship so special and so potentially fraught and why do you think it seems to have come to the fore that these women the forefront more now because it's finally culturally acceptable for us to see fathers pant and they're allowed to be like I'm not fighting with broadchurch but in vash you know he's the primary caregivers daughter so she was shot sorry and so he's the one in charge of doing that in a very long way with he's thinner and you can feel that and I think you know 20 years ago you saw the men and other roles in pop culture and and we've seen and see that they need to be much more publicly you know demonstrative in terms of the broadness of the father/daughter relationship holding on if you take if you can remove you know truly horrible fathers that's truly yours truly big red color powers then you just got you know regular people doing the best that they can and there's a great poem Keith who is it as the popular they you up your mom and dad is it Philip Levine movies and there's like twelve English makers of it and then the lines are this book one wiser they you up your mom and dad they don't mean to but they do and I think you know within the best intentions there's always going to be you know things that you have something you don't need to but in terms of the father-daughter specifically daughter's learn how to relate to men through their relationship with their father regardless of which underneath anything might be or sexuality they might and they might be that relationship is so key in helping them differentiate and know how to be part of that world and what can happen so frequently is the father will push the daughter away because of the obscene that's heaven who's up I don't want to even be perceived of having any sort of infighting my daughter you know and then you have this this child who was bouncing on your lap at 7 8 9 years old and suddenly you know you're separated like that and the child will understand when the father is absent so so he lost father as I deal with incarceration and abandonment long term illness sudden loss a variety of different ways that a father could could be absolutely family and adolescents in particular that individuation process is is key the daughter is on her way to becoming an adult that that person who traditionally navigated the extruder while the mother navigated the internal living threat work your own adoptive father plays a significant role actually you were real the biological father does too in many of the poems so how would you answer the same question I just posed to Lorraine how do you feel this father and it suddenly occurred to me welcoming right now the fact that she didn't know him but it did strike me that the specter of as we all learn this poets you just say thank you even if it's not what you want to write you just take it well you each as we heard deal with difficult subjects in your most recent latest work Lorraine you confront an illness obvious and lend you the circumstances of your adoption how did you each decide to take on and share such personal and sensitive aspects of your life I never told anyone everything before and really I spent my whole for those of you out there were teachers we teach so we don't have to share when you leave the group you can let everyone else do their thing and you're all like people think they know you know when your therapist the same thing they come they tell you their stuff they think they know you've had and getting cancer when I when I when I woke up actually her sweater woman pushed up first thing I did was felt to see if I had a bag and then the second thing I did was see if I actually knew who I was and what I could recognize things and the thought that was so prevalent in my head was what have I refused to feel and so that was sort of the thesis question and I didn't start actually writing for coming in here but the whole year the major recovery year I was taking notes and journaling and drawing all kinds of different stuff I didn't really know what I was going to do but that was the that was the thing you know where because cancer is not a thing no matter what no matter what the prognosis is and no matter but your current state it is it doesn't ever go away it's a it's a shadow that's always there and you know whether it's cancer or not what it really is is your own mortality and have any cancer diagnosis just makes you have to look at it all the time every time you go to live every time you go those scan every time you feel something weird every time you're like is this menopause or is this stuff addition where you go and you don't really know and and so I also became really afraid that if I didn't say everything that I had been holding back in this book I would die without saying it and that felt like a waste of life how did you decide to share this whole you know to family how to see that you had I think I had been struggling for a long time with my parents my mom in particular who had her own issues of feeling that I and was told actually many times that I need to be grateful for being adopted which I was and I am a very cognizant of what some of the alternatives might and now been chosen I was about to which was a little older especially at that time and people most people want an infant a month or two months six months I was to that I should be grateful for this and I am but there was never any space to be angry to be frustrated to be confused to be curious and so I started kind of writing about it but I didn't feel comfortable sharing it I I was little embarrassed and I thought people would think I was ungrateful but the older I got it just was kind of boiling up and similar to you I'm not a teacher but I do lead a lot of workshops and I'm always telling them just share your work tell us what you go there so I understood screw it now the truth is both of my parents and my birth mom have passed and that's given me a certain amount of freedom but I also recognize in a variety of ways people go through separations even from their families err or whatever and it's been surprising to me the number of people that come up to me and said you know I understand exactly your experience but I had something similar and so it did make me feel like you know all by yourself and I just said same things finally then I feel like I said not to waste it to to share it and to say this is the whole I think it was a half of me that was existing but it's also true that and then when I met my birth mother and I have seven cousins you know I as I told my adopted mother you can't expect me not to know something children do and that's fine but for those of us that are at least curious and possible for I think that's it was just something I had Lorraine as you mentioned this to say is speculative and you take some serious creative risks in terms of the way you approach and format this material why did you decide to deviate so much from the standard memoir of privilege since you teach the memoir class here I don't know how that exists in the world without the things that I see that other people don't see that's the way that I have always existed in the world I I am southern and my family as deeply southern we have ghosts of the trees we have coached cemeteries Mapes house because that's like every you know my mother's family is from Finland they were her mother was her mother's mother was a fortune-teller in a psychic an alcoholic and I when I try to write it straight straight I was like rhetoric straight I feel like I'm holding back the best of me and the part of me that would make me stand out to a reader and I read Carole besos book the art lover when I was in my early 20s that book because it's finally being released you know family says work at all oh she's amazing and the art lover was they called it experimental then which meant nobody reads it and McDowell we're going on the thing and it was you know but the book was about the death of her friend from AIDS so that was amazed and it included a play format it included song lyrics and included maps of the stars it included a fictional narrative it included a you know and I read this it was before I went to graduate school but it was like oh my god Brady can do this and then I went to graduate school and I really and I said because we weren't sucking Emily so they were sending Hemingway and we were studying other thing and I tried to write stories of war and I tried to write stories of outside I'm not an outside person I'm going outside and being with bears if any others was that was what was selling and that was what was being put up as great literature and Karen Mesa was teaching as an adjunct at the University of Arizona she's now at Brown College is a tenured professor at Brown College I had the privilege of hearing her read when I was at the University of Arizona and but then I so basically that I went through academia and forgot I could do what Carol may so surely I could do and then after cancer I went back gonna reread it and was like damn bitch like I knew what I needed to do 25 years ago and I let other people tell me that it wasn't right that it was too it was woman's literature it was it was too experimental it was not it was not mainstream it was not the kind of stories that anyone would want to hear and so when you want to sell books you take that in and I think a lot of my work that has not been successful has because I because I tried to be what other people wanted me to be and and said earlier this constellation of ghosts it's like this is 1000% me there's I have hope I kid you not not one thing back not one thing and so if I die tomorrow there's a PDF of the code around you can read it you'll know everything there's nothing left because I want now to always live empty and so that formed me that I needed to be able to bring in all those aspects I like your essays I think they're bad news out there but I needed the pathology and I needed the art and I needed the other kind of needed the ghosts and I needed the ghosts to be valid and not something that gets put on a weird shelf I needed to normalize my ghosts because I believe everybody's got them they just forgot great well speaking of experimentation when you experiment often with poetic form how do you decide the shapes of yours how do you decide what form of mom is going to take if in fact it's going to take I mean a lots of having an MFA or a PhD I am and of all hissing one up one somewhere by trade I'm gonna said you're gonna be a what wrong to you so I I think he's given me a certain amount of freedom because I didn't have that Lex already whoever is the poet de jour and everybody has to write like that so what I did because I said after law school I would never go back to school was a lot of what I know about poetry is because I just try to read as much poetry as I possibly can and when I find something in a form that I really like I try to stir that way and by the my computer but I I guess I didn't feel the constraint that I probably would have felt if I had gotten a degree in literature that is not to say that it's not just for me it wasn't what I wanted but it's specific answer to you question is what I've been doing for maybe the last five years or so are literally writing margin margin and letting the poems tell me what shape they want and that's not to say that I don't sit down sometimes to say gee I'd like to write a song but I find that not impose eel in whatever words are coming out to me these two the more interesting because I have a predetermined ideas well we have a lot of writers I am assuming in the audience tonight so let's talk about when the writing just doesn't come it doesn't flow in other words writers Loraine you've written an entire book about it you know what dropped a bit look in can you describe the condition and your favorite technique to overcome it by the book again this is another one you gotta open it was another bit of cosmic irony that that was the book that Cain I cannot in a 2016 and I would have been cancer them but I didn't know it I was diagnosed in February of and the key premise in on being stuck what is to essentially a friend of the block so move into the blog to to use active imagination to dialogue with it to ask it what it needs to try to identify what format it is is it like a is it a craft based block meaning you're trying to do something with your piece that you don't yet have the craft skills to do the technical understanding to do and so oh wait I don't like that is to learn more technical skills or the more common one really because that's vertical is how are you getting in your own way what is coming up that your writing is asking you to do that you are resisting doing or saying and those tools slightly altered where the primary tools I use to address cancer and to work with with cancer as an entity and to try to integrate cancer into me rather than the war with cancer I could not I could not find a way in my body to be angry at it to fight it to resist it because I really believe what you resist just get stronger and I felt like I needed to find a way to make friends with it and I meant in front of it I need to figure out what it was asking me to learn and what it was as commuters about myself and if I can understand those things then perhaps it could dissolve you know on its own and that's the essentially the same technique in the book on writer's block that's like moving into a finding its gift I think it's question of you what is why is this showing up for you right now what is it about women and I'm not at all saying you clozaril and I'm not saying that crap at all but like what is it in this thing that has shown up for you that can help you and then really kind of no matter what the end game is you have won and so I think that's what sustained me through through worship well a different kind of writer's block can sometimes come from having life get in the way and you have as you mentioned you know you were a high-powered lawyer and she was a comedian Bob yeah she was only like an orange alert you know and so you had to deal with as I said life getting in the way or other forms melenik dry spells so how did you get past them and keep going I know there's the lore of the big money from poetry that's all Wow so how could you tell me to deal with when you're not writing I think I came to college what I call serious it always been scribbling since I was a kid as many writers but when I seriously started writing poetry I was opening it my contemporaries I was I was a little late to the game my first thought didn't come out I was 15 so I decided with respect to writer's block I didn't have your time for it no there's there's a wonderful poet why listen more Carolyn Kaiser was kinda running Post said that she said you know I write a draft and I put it in the drawer for two years let it kind of marinate us I'm an old woman I don't not have to use it for the poem in the door I need to write it right now so I kind of made an affirmative decision on my man I just wasn't having it but I want those occasions when I'm really struggling I copy out longhand sometimes tight other people's phones because when I do that I learn more than just taking it in reading it I'm paying even more attention than you would think I was already doing my reading on the page but why is this library why this work I mean I literally am writing it out as though I was and literally we'll walk away from doing that with tendinitis so I I'm kind of stubborn about having it coming down and I'm too old to have rides lock it's boring you know I'm just not going there but what do you do as a practical matter because there are times we need just to kind of I like what you're saying about a Grayson if I don't write for a we go right for a week notice little shoot me you know it's not millions of dollars waiting for my next book so if I can't do it I can do but then I find something else to do I write a book review or I'll just copy a poem and I admired and really try to understand what a mad person or any other little distraction to make me forget that I'm not writing about questions from you anybody here have something I would like to ask these two fantastic authors I couldn't Florina and dying of curiosity why the Raven honestly it was a dream but of course Ravens are symbolically the bridge between the what you know I mean it's it's it's so much of a cliche I was gonna stand it but it but impress it's full of them you know and so they they have scenes where they were in my backyard when my dad's my backyard is the Raven and it's very heart of what would what would actually be there but that was the voice that started to come out the Florin starting to come and it was it did arrive first as it as a dream and I tried to make it something less freakin obvious but that was what it kept kind of coming back to great other questions that's it just one Thank You buzz so much what an incredible incredible evening I appreciate it both both of the different things that you brought to us tonight I am a kind of like you not a rule follower or I almost go the opposite direction that that is especially with my writing and I as a result of that I have you know some things I really like about that another about craft and that kind of thing that I don't really know I love writing poetry and I prayed quite a bit of it I want to put together a chapter here on so I I reminded Jim earlier today that when I was putting in my first full and collection bag no part gentleman that Jim and I both know well David st. John wonderful poet if you don't know him seek him out said let me at Holmes just put together the book I said is that actually works is there some kind of about 60 70 points I looked at them and they weren't going together Jim the tall brilliant man that he has said well you've done poetry readings maybe his standard one like the 15 he said and you know that usually if you wanted to lead your idea Jim arc in this poem just trying to make sure the audience is following you he said do that three times so you're 15 times that's 45 homes that I can manage so let's say that your chocolate is 25 take the other 1012 see how they fit then you can start to kind of move things in and out and always always remember there is no right answer because someone will read your book and say well I would have searched 12 that's your strongest right because yes I am I credit Jim every time I get that question I always say Jim the total gave me the spark it's very inspiring so Lorraine how different to go home was the book that you wrote from the one who thought you were there right the one that I thought I was going to rain didn't have the parts that work the one that I thought I was gonna write was I had a when I based about six months after I was out of hospital I was like I'm never gonna write again I don't have anything left to right like I'm you know and of course part of healing is creative energy and they know all about that I was like I've never gone this all about writing anything like I've broken and so so I found a woman named Michelle sea clammers is a phenomenal essayist her book circadian is really making a splash and so I you know her and I'm like hey can I work with you and so so every month I sent her an essay and then and this got me at least writing because if I'm sending something to someone and I'm given a money I'm gonna write something so I sent her stuff and then probably six or seven months later that's when the raven dream happened and I'm like I don't even know what Chelsea can help she says she's a very hilarious she's an essay like she is hmm I mean I got this weird voice it's kind of like a kind of contender and act like this thing and like that says that she's like cool said and and when she read the first part of the Ravens she emailed me she texted me with this gigantic that though she's she's like you found your book and and I haven't been afraid to send it because I thought it was so one of her it was so weird – I thought it wasn't going to be what she would like you know and and what it was almost like okay got that piece and then I knew I couldn't leave that until lyric essays and then it was honestly a therapy session where the therapist I work with I don't do my third we don't do therapy as she does something called the body method of guided imagery which is an onion based music therapy and what you do is you sort of you have an intention of what you want to address whether it's you know in the key some things just something what relationship but it could be something like their body or whatever and then there's there's you know she's very trained and how to select music to facilitate the journey and then you're using your own imagery to address your own intention and one of my intentions was I knew I had all this raping piece and I had all these lyric essays and you know what to do with them and wonder when my question was how the hell do i structure my book and it came to me in a 45 minute therapy session and once I got back together there's my book so it's so it's I do I used so much of my I brought so much of my unconscious subconscious so create the book and I have not ever done it so consciously but any other questions okay well then let us thank profusely are too long [Applause]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *