Contributor Spotlight: Lynn Powell

LynnPowell studio shot-010Lynn Powell’s poems “Feedback for the Muse” and “Driftings at Anchor” are part of Issue 74 of Bellingham Review. Subscribe or purchase a single issue through our Submittable page here.

What would you like to share with our readers about the work you contributed to the Bellingham Review?

“Feedback for the Muse” and “Driftings at Anchor” are from my upcoming collection of poems, Season of the Second Thought, which will be published this fall (October 2017) by the University of Wisconsin Press. “Feedback for the Muse” is one of a half-dozen poems in that book in which I’m exasperated (or worse!) with my rascal of a muse, who always seems to be gallivanting off on some wild adventure without me. “Driftings at Anchor” comes near the end of my book, and although the muse isn’t directly invoked in this poem, perhaps you can hear my puzzling over how I can know my own mind and my admiration for that scruffy lakeside pine, “transfigured in its own shimmerings.” For me, the hard work of poetry—the medium that never lets me get away with anything false or facile—is the slow way I do come to know my own mind and the way I am, at least for a while, transfigured in my own shimmerings. That rascally muse comes around just often enough to keep me toeing the line.

Tell us about your writing life.

I wrote my first poem at age 10, and it began something like, “The calendar says, ‘Spring’s been here,’/ but I know it came just today./ And it arrived in such glory and splendor,/ and such shining and lovely array!” I imagine I was trying to channel the voice of the 19th century poems I was poring over in the one slender poetry volume in our Chattanooga home. But what I remember is sitting on my grandmother’s back stoop, feeling exhilarated by the April day, and feeling equally exhilarated by the words I was writing down to keep that day forever on my page. My voice has changed dramatically in the 50 years since my poetic debut! But the deeper wonderings hinted at in my first poem—about time, mortality, voice, desire, and the vast, mysterious natural world—well, those preoccupations have persisted in my life and in my poems.

Which non-writing aspect of your life most influences your writing?

My love of art, and my tussles with my Baptist upbringing.

What writing advice has stayed with you?

“You must revise your life,” William Stafford.

>What are you reading right now?

The fourth volume of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.

What project(s) are you working on now, or next?

I hope to discover that this summer!

LYNN POWELL’S new manuscript, Season of the Second Thought, just won the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry and will be published this fall by the University of Wisconsin Press. She has published two previous books of poetry (The Zones of Paradise and Old & New Testaments) and a book of nonfiction (Framing Innocence). A native of East Tennessee, Powell lives in Oberlin, Ohio, where she teaches Creative Writing at Oberlin College and directs the WITS (Writers-in-the-Schools) program.