All posts by Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

About Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

Minnesota-based writer, dog owner, parent, photographer, coffee addict, and snow-lover, which makes her unpopular in the neighborhood around the middle of January.

Interview with Poet Lyndi Bell O’Laughlin

poet Lyndi Bell O'Laughlin
Poet Lyndi Bell O’Laughlin

GR: Thanks for agreeing to let us interview you for Gyroscope Review. We’re pleased that you are one of our contributing poets. Will you please begin by telling us where you’re from, where you write, and why poetry?

LBO: Thank you for including me in Gyroscope Review’s author interview series.

I grew up in California. Became a trick rider while still in high school, and spent several years touring the U.S. and Canada, performing at PRCA rodeos with Dick and Connie Griffith’s trick and Roman riding troupe. In 1976, I settled in Wyoming, had two sons, Sandy and Morgan Forbes, and earned a nursing degree. Now I live in Kaycee, Wyoming, a small prairie town at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains. My husband, John, and I retired here to be closer to our grandchildren.

My office is a room roughly the size of a boot box, but the door closes tight. It will do.

I create poetry because I am inspired by reading other people’s art. That, and the fact that I’m convinced my brain and my tongue have never been formally introduced, but I have things to say.

GR: Who, or what, are your poetical influences?

LBO: I studied with Boston poet Matthew Lippman (author of several books of poetry including American Chew, The Year of Yellow, and Salami Jew) for four years. I take one or two ten-week-sessions a year with him. Matthew has introduced me to an array of poetry I would never have known existed, from Max Jacob to Dorianne Laux. He taught me what to do with this itchy need to express and create.

GR: How do you decide what form a poem should take?

LBO: I enjoy reading free verse poetry, so that’s what I write. If a poem feels as if it wants to stretch out across the page, I oblige. If it throws up resistance to everything but a blurt of short, declarative lines, we do that.

GR: What is your writing process like?

LBO: Always an early riser, I write in the morning. In the evening I read and catch up on political news.

Sometimes I start writing with a preordained topic. Usually I begin with whatever comes to mind, or take a phrase or word from the notebook to kick things into gear. I would love to churn out a presentable poem every time I turn the ignition. In reality, most of them are lemons. But when one takes off, it makes up for the time spent gunning the engine while the flagger is stuck in traffic.

Once a poem starts to talk, I tend to work it a long time. Sometimes I’ll tinker with a poem for days or weeks. Put it down. Pick it up. I used to quit them too soon. Most of the time, even if a new poem is thrilling me within an inch of my life, by the next day, maybe by lunchtime, it will look like that mass your bare foot stepped in this morning. The one the dog left on the rug by the door.

GR: Do you belong to any writer’s groups – face-to-face or online? If so, are they part of your process?

LBO: I belong to a writer’s group in Buffalo, Wyoming. Writer’s Ink. We meet twice a month in the library of the historic Occidental Hotel to critique each other’s work and offer encouragement. I am a member of Wyoming Writers, Inc., and I’m Vice-President of WyoPoets, an organization of people who write poetry for publication, or just for fun.

GR: What do you look for in the poetry you like to read? Any favorite poets?

LBO: I enjoy a poem that includes elements of contemporary popular culture. And who doesn’t like honest poems? I appreciate poems that are courageous enough to take on the dark stuff, but still leave us with hope, at least with the sense that we are not alone in our anxieties and confusion.

Just the other day I read a holocaust poem called “Soap,” by Gerald Stern. How do we speak of unthinkable horror when there are no words? This is how.

I also like to read poetry that recognizes the paradoxes, contradictions, and mysteries of human consciousness. The work of Stephen Dunn, for instance.

Mainly I ask that a poem have something interesting to say, and if it can do this with a little humor, so much the better, and now I’m thinking about Michael Cirelli’s “Lobster With O’ Dirty Bastard.”

I just never know when a good poet is going to fall out of the sky. It pays to keep your eyes open. I hope none of you missed “But Nothing’s On Fire” and “Something the Current Kept” by Jeff Jeppesen, in the Summer, 2017 Gyroscope Review .

The list of poets whose work I read repeatedly includes Stephen Dunn, Tony Hoagland, Matthew Lippman, Lori Howe, Seamus Heaney, Lucia Perillo, Marie Howe, Jane Hirshfield, Adrienne Rich, Natalie Diaz, Rachel Zucker, John Surowiecki, Sharon Olds, Sylvia Plath. I enjoy Matthew Olzmann, and Carolyn Forché. Billy Collins, and B.H. Fairchild. Try Fairchild’s poem, “Brazil,” if you need a good laugh today.

Small poems that tell a big story are a draw for me. I recently stumbled upon John Murillo’s “Enter the Dragon.”

One more gem of a recent find, Kevin Prufer’s “The Translator,” in the Spring 201 issue of The Paris Review.

GR: What is the most important role for poets today?

LBO: Poetry can help lessen the modern sense of isolation and loneliness, the illusion that we, personally, are separate from the rest of human life and nature. Poets who are conscious of themselves as part of a larger whole may, or may not, have the power to influence the human condition. I don’t know. But there is no reason to believe that anyone who is informed about what is going on in the world cannot use their art as a pebble lobbed into a pond.

GR: Which poets have you had the opportunity to hear read? Alternatively, what is the most recent book you’ve read?

LBO: Living in a rural area, I don’t have easy access to frequent readings, so I occasionally watch them on-line. Matthew Lippman’s Parking Lot Poem series is good, and I’ve seen Carolyn Forché read “The Colonel.”

A high point this year was a live podcast from Orlando, Florida, organized by Brain Pickings creator Maria Popova. Amanda Palmer read “The Mushroom Hunters” by Neil Gaiman along with others who read poetry in defense of science and protest.

I recently enjoyed hearing a live reading by Art Elser from his recent book, A Death at Tollgate Creek: Songs of the Prairie, and David Mason, who shared poems from his new collection, Sea Salt.

As far as books go, I’m on a David Sedaris kick right now. Just finished reading When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Next up, Someday Me Talk Pretty.

GR: Any future plans for your work that you’d like to talk about?

LBO: There are no plans beyond continuing to write poetry, and sharing it when I can.

GR: What other interests do you have beyond literature?

LBO: I like acoustic music, and a priority is making sure our grandchildren grow up with lots of music and books in their life. One five-year old granddaughter is on her second year of violin instruction. She and I make a 130-mile round-trip once a week for her lessons, and meet almost every day for practice. This summer, we’ll hit a couple bluegrass festivals and the Wyoming Symphony Close Encounters Concert. Other than just plain loving them, exposing the kids to music and good children’s literature is the most important thing I do.

GR: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Please let our readers know where they can find more information about you or your work:

LBO: They can contact me at lyndibell333@gmail.com.

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Irresistible, Seductive Bookstores and Why You Might Want a Print Copy of Gyroscope Review

 

Some of us go on vacation to unplug, hike, enjoy a different landscape. Writers tend to notice all the bookstores.
Our editor Kathleen Cassen Mickelson recently visited Ireland and kept seeing wonderful little bookstores that invited readers to curl up with a good book.
Where would you like to curl up with a good book this summer? Or, even better, a print copy of Gyroscope Review?
Did you know that any monies we receive from the sale of our print copies goes entirely back into the cost of running Gyroscope Review?
We do not ask for reading fees, nor do we ask for donations. But you can support us by buying a print copy of our journal and rest assured that the money you spend will help keep Gyroscope Review going for poets and readers everywhere.
Where you curl up to read is entirely up to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to purchase a print copy of the summer issue of Gyroscope Review, please click HERE.

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Issue 17-3: Summer 2017 is Here

We are pleased as can be to offer our latest issue of Gyroscope Review for your reading pleasure. This issue offers several thoughtful reactions to the state of world affairs as well as pieces that provide respite. Poets tackled difficult topics, teased apart what is sold as fact, and gave us poetry that shows just how engaged, enraged, and enlightened literary artists can be.

The poets included in this issue are:

Linda Baldanzi
Ace Boggess
Michelle Brooks
Yu-Han Chao
Barry Charman
Dan Darrah
Holly Day
Michael Wayne Friedman
Marissa Glover
James Graham
Lois Marie Harrod
Sue Howell
Jeff Jeppesen
Oonah Joslin
Mike Jurkovic
Stepy Kamei
Charles Kell
Steve Klepetar
Sandra Kohler
Susan L. Leary
Jenny McBride
Ashley Memory
Lyndi Bell O’Laughlin
Ken Poyner
A.R. Robins
Claire Scott
Mary Sesso
Marian Kaplun Shapiro
T.J. Smith
Sarah Dickenson Snyder
John Vanek
Sally Zakariya

To read this issue online, click on the cover below below. This PDF version may also be downloaded into your iBooks app if you have one.

GYROSCOPE REVIEW ISSUE 17-3 SUMMER 2017

We hope you will consider buying a print version of our summer issue. Just think: you don’t have to charge it or plug it in, just open the pages. Linger. Enjoy. Think. Perhaps respond in some way.

A print copy can be purchased through CreateSpace at https://www.createspace.com/7293869 or CLICK HERE.

You can also find us on Amazon.com and Amazon.uk. Just search for “Gyroscope Review fine poetry” and any issues, past and present, that are available as print copies, should pop up. In fact, you can CLICK HERE for our search results. (For digital back issues unavailable in print, please CLICK HERE.)

If you care to engage with others who read Gyroscope Review, visit our Facebook page and start a conversation. Find us on Twitter. We’re on Instagram, too. Poetry can be the spark. Let it burn brightly.

 

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Notes on Enter Here: poems by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Enter Here poems by Alexis Rhone FancherEnter Here: poems by Alexis Rhone Fancher. Published by KYSO Flash Press, Seattle, 2017. Soft cover, 112 p., $18.00.

In January of 2016, Gyroscope Review published an interview with Los Angeles poet and photographer Alexis Rhone Fancher. Rhone Fancher’s unapologetic, sharp work graced the pages of our issue 16-1 and I’ve been enchanted with her ever since. When I read that her new book, Enter Here, was available, I ordered it immediately.

My fascination with Rhone Fancher’s work holds because of her strong voice and her willingness to take on the sordid details that many keep secret about sexuality in all its nuances, power between women and men, abuse of power/sexuality, what women learn from an early age, the joy of being a dirty girl, the dangers of being intimate. And, as I read the poems in Enter Here, I was overwhelmed with my own reactions to the work. This book is explicit. It is not for everyone. But it is well worth stepping outside of whatever your comfort zone may be as it nudges the reader to consider the power structures that constrict us even at our most intimate level.

I decided the best way to share this with you is to offer my raw notes about this book. You’ll see why. Stay with me.

 

1. The photo of the turnstile at Pershing Square Metro Station that kicks off the poems in this book – Okay, I’m ready to go for a fast ride beneath the surface of things. Do I have enough tokens to ride to the end?

 

2. Complicated. Complications. These poems are one, filled with the other. When they rocket me back to the ugly uncertainty of female adolescence with all that attention from others who want to claim my body, I’m not sure I like it. Funny, I sometimes liked it back then, when I was naïve. See: Daddy’s Friend, Stan, p. 18-19

 

Shhh! he soothes when I whimper,

afraid he’s gone too far.

 

He thumbs the fabric instead of me,

whistles the theme from

Mission Impossible.

 

3. These women who only seem to do what men want – they’re playing them as much as they’re getting played. See: Spreading My Legs for Someone (Posing for Pirelli), p. 25-26.

 

I slipped off my dress.

Kept my stilettos.

 

Why don’t I own stilettos? Oh, yeah. They hurt my feet if I try to go anywhere. Might be handy as an ice pick.

 

4. I don’t use the word pudenda enough. It’s meaty. It makes me purse my lips. See: Tuesday Nights, Room 28 of the Royal Motel on Little Santa Monica, p. 29-30.

 

5. There! The book title is buried in the poem Tattooed Girl in a Sheer, White Blouse (Sushi Bar Fantasy) on p. 31-32. It takes a while to figure out where to enter anything. Figures this line that finally says enter here is in the middle of everything. Figures the entrance it refers is hidden, private, capable of great things, desirable. Is that tattooed girl the same one in the following poem? Does it matter? What about the one in Tattooed Girl: Slice/Shokunin on p. 59? I’m a slightly tattooed girl. Hmm. This fascination with tattooed girls – is this about the willingness to put so much right on the surface? Or is it the way the skin is covered up even when clothes are off?

 

6. In Tonight I Dream of Angelica, My First Ex-Girlfriend, Who Taught Me the Rule of the Road… on p. 38, I zero in on this:

 

I admit, I’ve always been driven to sin.

 

And yet it’s all for love, we later learn. But love for whom?

 

7. Boy toys, sad waitresses, sisters. From For the Sad Waitress at the Diner in Barstow, p. 44-45:

 

the cruel sun throws her inertia in her face.

this is what regret looks like.

 

Regret haunts us, slowly kills us, doesn’t it? How do we forgive ourselves let alone anyone else?

 

8. I was right about stilettos having other uses. See: Stiletto Killer…a Surmise, p. 48.

 

9. See: Tonight I Dream of My First True Love (Ménage à Trois), p. 53:

 

I see what I’m not meant to see: I am disposable, nothing more than a deep hole.

 

Oh, I love that the narrator saw is what is eventually going to save her. Get out now!! If only we could teach our daughters how to see like this and redefine themselves as a result, be Wonder Women.

 

10. A nod to Joan Didion – what Los Angeles writer would miss the opportunity? Nice to see you here, Joan, in the cento, Play It As It Lays, p. 60-61. You’re still relevant.

 

11. Ex-husbands and ex-lovers: what have we learned? See: Tonight I Dream of My Second Ex-Husband, Who Played Piano Better than Herbie Hand-Cock, p. 67:

 

Why does the fantasy always best real life?

 

See also: Out of Body, p. 68:

 

Riddle: when is a promise like a bayonet?

 

And then see: Because He Used to Love Her. A Story in Photographs and Senryu, p. 69-73:

 

her hair like a whip

torturing him now, but once

he did worship her

 

All of it cuts our hearts out. All of it leaves big fat scars.

 

12. For Lynnie in the Dark, p. 76-77: Required reading. The abrupt ending that defines an abusive relationship.

For Lynn Cutolo who was murdered on October 3, 2007, by her husband. See: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/latimes/obituary.aspx?n=lynn-cutolo-richards&pid=96516634

 

13. I Was Hovering Just Below the Hospital Ceiling, Contemplating My Death, p. 79. Not sure what got to me more about this poem – the way the poems talks about unexpected loss and the unwillingness to let go, the author’s note on the next page that explains the poem’s origins, or the author’s statement that this is the first time she’s gotten this story right. Car wrecks and their aftermath are not something you can neatly tie up and put away. The last line will take your breath away. No spoilers here.

 

14. This book moves from being a young girl to a woman with ex-husbands, back to the young girl memories, zooms back up to womanhood, back and forth, forward and backward, rocking/rocky rhythm. Lovers of all types. And then there’s Housekeeping, p. 85:

 

I love you like the Swiffer loves

the dust, deeply, with an

electrostatic charge.

 

Not the memory of an 18-year-old. But this funny little piece is the perfect spot for timid romantics, who aren’t sure about explicit poetry, to enter this collection. You, buttoned-down person, this is your door. Get on board.

 

15. Osculation – another word I never use. Why is that? Kissing, after all, has been overdone.

 

16. And the light slips away as the train nears the end. We exit with this small rain (no title case intentional) on p. 100-101. We all search for salvation wherever we can:

 

this small rain kamikazes

in the gutter

suicides on summer sidewalks

dreams of a deluge

that overflows the river banks

washes L.A. clean

 

Power. Abuse. Sex. Why are they so intertwined for humans? Savvy girls learn early how to navigate their way among them as a means of survival, how to wield their own power when they can. Sometimes joy and respect are elusive, knocked out of reach by other things that masquerade as the same. How long that road is to genuine love.

How well Alexis Rhone Fancher splays out, in all their raw and messy explicitness, the deceptively tempting detours.

Be brave. Step into this book.

– Kathleen Cassen Mickelson, Co-Editor, Gyroscope Review

 

If you are interested in hearing some of these poems as well as pieces from other books by Alexis Rhone Fancher, visit http://www.alexisrhonefancher.com/audio/ .

To order a copy of Enter Here, click here.

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