Tag Archives: poetry

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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Today We Offer You Self-Published Poetry Books

Welcome to our first-ever self-published book links party!

We decided, after getting a few requests in April about self-published books of poetry, to offer readers a chance to connect with some of these authors. We hope you enjoy the selections. Please click on the book cover images for more information about each publication.

Disclaimer: Gyroscope Review staff has not read these poetry books. We requested that authors send us information about books that were not pornographic and that respected all groups of people regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, age, etc. We proceed on the assumption that our requests were honored.

You Are Once Again the Stranger by R. Bremner

 

Kerouac Dreams, Kerouac Visions by R. Bremner

 

Poems for the Narrow (Straight or Bent) by R. Bremner

 

Tiptoe and Whisper by Janaya Martin

 

The Butterfly Canonical by Terry Jude Miller

 

a jarful of moonlight by Nazanin Mirsadeghi

 

The Book of Robot by Ken Poyner

 

Collected Poems 2008-2014 by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

 

After the Danse by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

 

Ono by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

 

Bravo Charlie Foxtrot by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

 

Numeralla Dreaming by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

 

Food 4 Thought by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

 

 

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It’s Here! The 2017 Book Links Party – #1

Welcome to our first Books Links Party post for National Poetry Month 2017. Check out these recently published poetry books. Click on the cover image for more information.

 

Staring through My Eyes by Sylvia Cavanaugh
Staring Through My Eyes by Sylvia Cavanaugh, Finishing Line Press, $14.99

 

Three Pounds of Cells by Oonah V Joslin
Three Pounds of Cells by Oonah V Joslin, The Linnet’s Wings Press, $10.00

 

She May be a Saint by Sarah Nichols, Hermeneutic Chaos Press, $8.00

 

Sounds of Morning by Anita S. Pulier, Finishing Line Press, $14.99

 

Velocipede by Laura Madeline Wiseman, Texas A&M University Press, $16.00

If you would like to be part of our next Book Links Party post, email us at gyroscopereview@gmail.com with a 300-dpi or better jpg of your book cover and a link to the book’s listing at the publisher’s website. To qualify, books must have been published between May 2016 and now, and are not self-published. Our goal is to share as many recently-published books of poetry as possible. Join us!

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If You Like Printed Copies

We know a lot of poets who love holding books in their hands, actual books with pages to turn and dog-ear and scribble notes upon. That’s something that doesn’t happen with digital poetry journals.

Given that we fund this operation ourselves, we’ve set it up so it doesn’t make us bankrupt. Website hosts and domain names and submissions systems do add up in cost, but it’s doable for a small journal like ours. Digital publishing allows the dissemination of poetry to anyone who wishes to read it, which is an amazing gift. We love to think about the fact that some kid in high school in Indiana can read us just as well as a poet-farmer in rural England or an urban dweller on New York’s Upper West Side. The variety of submissions tells us that our digital reach is doing exactly what we’d hoped: offering a place for poetry to people from multiple layers of society whether from a home computer or a shared computer at school or in a library.

But we still have a gap. There are those who do not like using digital platforms, who love the smell of paper, whose eyes feel strain when they read on a screen. And that is why we have made an account on CreateSpace and are working to get our winter edition available to purchase in print form on March 15. This is a learning exercise for us, so bear with us as we figure this out. If this works as we hope, we’ll be able to offer future editions through CreateSpace as print versions. We don’t have a price point yet and that is one of the things we have to learn.

Any money that might come in from this venture will have to go right back into the cost of running Gyroscope Review, so until such time as we make a profit (a long-shot for poetry journals, but we can dream), please know we aren’t paying ourselves. People who don’t work in this field may not know how hard it is to come up with a sustainable model that pays everyone when a journal is still trying to gain a decent audience. Our main goal is to make poetry available to all and we hope that is your goal, too, if you submit to us.

We look forward to this next chapter of Gyroscope Review. We’ll keep you posted.

P.S. Our current reading period is open until March 15! Keep ’em coming. Guidelines here.

 

Images courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

 

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