National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Greg W. Lyons

Each day in April, in honor of National Poetry Month and our third anniversary issue (find out how to get a copy HERE), we are running an interview with a poet who has been published in Gyroscope Review. Read on.

National Poetry Month Interview Series: Interview with Poet Greg W. Lyons

Poet Greg W. Lyons

How will you celebrate National Poetry Month? With poems! I usually don’t do anything too special for National Poetry Month. I have greater awareness for my poetry writing schedule, both how much I am doing and how much I am not doing, but it’s nice to see so many places throwing events and sharing poetry during that time. I’ll probably just attend some of those as usual and see what the local community is like. I just recently moved to Troy, so I don’t know the scene very well yet.

Pen, pencil or computer first?
Reading, then pen, then computer. Even if the reading is just 5 or 10 minutes, it ends up helping. It acts like a palate cleanser in many ways. And honestly, I can’t really stand the sound a pencil makes while writing.

Who/what are your influences? For poetry? Louise Glück opened my eyes with her collection Wild Iris. Yehuda Amichai is another. Both of them I would consider love poets.  And then there’s Marie Howe, Jack Gilbert, Joshua Beckman, Rick Lyon, and others. I would say I am mostly influenced by poetry collections and individual poems, not poets themselves, but these poets and a few others have collections on my most read shelf. Like for individual poems, Mark Doty has some beautiful ones in Atlantis, Kim Addonizio has some in Tell Me, Tess Gallagher in Willingly, Frank Bidart in Stardust and Rick Lyon in Bell 8, Joshua Beckman in Shake. I could go on. The ones that stay with me are the ones that have more heart than mind, if that makes any sense.

American Female writers publishing in the 90’s have had an unusually strong connection with me. I haven’t figured that one out, yet.

What topic is the hardest for you to write about and why? Political poetry is trending right now, but I just can’t do it. There’s something inside me that just doesn’t believe political poetry has the same effect as love poetry, grief, family. So, even if I try to write a political poem, my inward cynic shows herself and ruins it.

What was the worst writing idea you ever had? Would I remember the worst idea I ever had, or would I repress it or forget it? I think the worst writing ideas I’ve ever had are the writing ideas I’ve never written. The ones that are just a spark behind the eyes, but they are all imaginary. Those are probably my worst writing ideas.

What authors do you love right now? I picked up Wendell Berry’s The Mad Farmer Poems recently and I have been pleasantly surprised and delighted. This collection is probably about as close to liking political poetry as I come.

What is the most important role of poets in 2018? I don’t think poets should have a ‘most important role’. If there is a ‘most important role’, I imagine it’s breaking that role whenever a poet can. Poets aren’t bedrock, they’re rain.

Where do you go when you need to recharge? I used to take a walk, maybe bounce into a coffee shop. Pretty cliché, but the walks are usually what do it. Today, I vary up my schedule with the help of an app called TimeTune. The variation in my everyday activities is enough to recharge me, so, for example, I’ll read for maybe 90 minutes and then I’m done and perhaps I move on to some chores or work or other activity for a set time. I tend to get exhausted when I stick with one thing for hours on end, so this helps me avoid that while also keeping me recharged and active. I like to think that I have batteries that act in parallel that store energy for different tasks, so I’m just switching to a different battery when I do a different task and let the others recharge.

What is your favorite end-of-the-day drink? I used to grab a nice shot of Maker’s, but nowadays a cool, dark beer will suffice. The more bite, the better.

Greg W. Lyons lives in Troy, New York. His most recent publications include “(She swore it)” in Spillway. Find out more about Greg’s work on his website, Teacher, Writer, and Overall English Engineer, or connect with him on Twitter (@GregoryWLyons1) or Instagram (@greg_w_lyons).