Posts Tagged ‘featured poet lucy baker interviewed’

Featured Poet Lucy Baker: Interviewed!

Monday, December 15th, 2008

(OK, Lucy was actually last week’s FP… I’ve been away doing my Christmas visit to all my relatives. My apologies! Normal service will now be resumed!)
Lucy is a former Read This editor and a California-based poet with a Beat Generation obsession. You can see her poems here and here… now learn a bit more about her creative process!

Tell us about your poems.
I suppose I’m a bit of a narcissistic poet. I rarely write from anyone’s point of view but my own. Many poets are like that though, so at least I’m not the only one! I think my writing process explains a lot about the type of poetry that I write. My poems are never pre-meditated. I am usually walking down the street or sitting in a café and some crazy line pops into my head, and I formulate my poem around that. Sometimes when I’m done editing, the line I started with isn’t even in my poem anymore, but I need that burst of inspiration to actually get down to the business of writing. Because of this my poems tend to be about what I’m doing at the time, or a memory that I’ve been mulling over for a while. I’m not very good at writing from other people’s (or inanimate objects’) points of view.

My poems are quite flowery, and they are the sort of thing that look much better written in my big curly writing. I think that you can never have too many adjectives (which is such a poetic faux pas in so many people’s books), but I think they make everything sound better. English is not a hugely expressive language, so I like to create strings of adjectives, and then substitute different words, until I get the exact meaning I want.

My poems are fairly unstructured, and I love playing around with words much more than meter or stanza length etc. Experimenting with combinations of words to create new meanings is usually a part of my writing process. For example, I think ‘winterpavement’ sounds a lot cooler than ‘icy sidewalk’…although I’m sure lots of people disagree! I write poetry because I love the beauty of a poem on paper, and the extra meaning that a poem creates with line breaks and the shapes of stanzas. While I enjoy prose just as much as poetry, reading and writing poetry is such an experience, because of the many different factors that go into creating a poem.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve only been writing for a short time, about two and a half years. I wrote quite a lot of funny little poems when I was very young, but I gave that up as we stopped learning about poetry in school.

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
I’ve been published in Read This, of course, as well as Edinburgh University’s Journal, and I was Poet in Residence on Poet’s Letter in May of this year.

I’m not really sure what the next stage is going to be for my work. As much as I love writing, I am much more interested in the editing side of things, and so have been concentrating much more on that recently. My work is suffering as a result, I haven’t written anything new in ages!

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Probably managing to read in front of a huge rowdy crowd at Read This’ six month anniversary. Also, showing my work to my family and other friends who don’t read poetry very much. I think poetry still has a stigma of being a bit of an ‘uncool’ thing to do, and it is also intensely personal, so it’s a bit scary to show your poems to a friend who is not really interested in that type of thing, and find that they actually enjoy reading them.

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
I think the best thing about writing poetry is that feeling you get after completing a poem. When you feel golden, like you’ve somehow managed to take a little slice off the world and pin it onto your paper.

And the worst…writer’s block! Definitely. I hate trying to write a poem and having everything that I write down be utterly horrible or being completely unable to write anything.

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
READ! Please! Pick up everything you can get your hands on and read it, write down bits you like, whatever, just take it in somehow. Jack Kerouac (and a million other writers I’m sure) used to carry a little notebook with him everywhere, and write down good lines that came to him, interesting things that people said, lines from books, etc. If you really like a certain song lyric, write it down. Then, write a poem about it, or why you like it, or what it makes you think of. The amount of times I’ve had some amazing burst of poetic inspiration and not been able to write it down have been too many to count. Allow inspiration to come to you from any source and go with it.

Also, don’t get too bogged down with ‘rules’ about meter or words or whatever. If everyone did that, poetry would never move forward. Write what makes sense to you, and stick with it. Of course, listen to suggestions that friends, teachers, and workshop mates have to make about your poetry, but don’t do anything to your poems that you think will change their essence, or are really against what you’re trying to achieve.

Finally, join a workshop or read your poems to friends. The best thing you can do is get your poems out there for other people to see. Workshops are also a fantastic place to get inspiration for your own poems, as you will be exposed to tons of different writing styles.

Who/what influences your poetry?
I have way too many favourite poets to name, but as a group, my favourite writers are the Beats, specifically Diane di Prima. Her poems really changed my idea about what poetry is. Her word choice and conversational style create incredibly haunting poems about her experiences of being marginalized by society and other writers in the fifties. I think it is encouraging that she was successful in a generation when she was doing something different from all of the other poets, most of whom were male.

However, I think the biggest influences to my poetry are my peers, the friends who write poetry. Being part of a supportive group and having an outlet for my poems has been the greatest factor in improving my poetry.

Small Town Life

We lived the clichés
of football games on
Friday nights, Cougar
cheerleaders shivering in
exhilaration and the players’
steely concentration as we
huddled together beneath
blankets, sharing each
other’s warmth.

Of creeping to the drugstore
to buy condoms for the first time
with your then-boyfriend,
and meeting your neighbour
or psych teacher at the checkout.
Steamy cars on Mulholland Ridge,
evidence for gossips the next day.
It’s true what they say about
everyone knowing your business.

Of Friday nights at
Nation’s Diner, french
fry missiles and coca-
cola straw wrappers
wriggling on the table.
And Loard’s ice cream
in the summer, peppermint
stickiness dripping on toes,
sugary grins shared
with the best.

Of dancing under the
tangerine fluorescence
at the Rheem,
blacktop slick with
rainwater and our
disco ball reflections
scattered in car mirrors.
Huddled hugs under the lights,
dizzy kisses exchanged.

Of fireworks from Tijuana,
set off in the JM parking
lot with only giggles for
company. Laughter that
turned to adrenaline shrieks
as we ran through beer
bottles and used blunts in
the creek, escaping the
sirens of the Mo-Po.

Of scooters and running
shoes, wings at midnight,
Of grass flecked memories,
the world tumbling over
the hill at The Commons.
Of friends who have known you
Since spandex and side-ponytails,
Of Easy-Mac nights and
sticky sweet Johnny’s mornings.

This is what small town life is really like.

Want to be the next Featured Poet? Drop me a line and include some poems — no less than three — to!

(Photo by Mazdamiata)

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