Contributor Spotlight: Jane O. Wayne

Jane O. Wayne’s poems “The Spark”, “Sitting for Himself”and “The Winter Rehearsals” are featured in Issue 75 of the Bellingham Review

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

Over time I’ve learned to recognize the attraction of particular material. For times when inspiration hides from me, I keep a file of fragments to get started.

Often I don’t know where a poem arises. “Sitting for Himself”, however, was inspired by a self-portrait by the blind writer Jorge Luis Borges . Intrigued, I tried to imagine being blind and sketching, then searched for ways a blind person might know his own face, such as shaving or touching his features. Toward the end, I created an observer who enters and describes the drawing to the blind man whose inner eye sees it differently.

Both “The Winter Rehearsals” and “The Spark” explore themes that repeatedly attract me. Once I start on a subject, i.e. a winter mood, everything seems relevant to it. Images collect and connect in surprising ways.

Tell us about your writing life.

Writing is the activity that centers my life…hope that doesn’t sound too grand. I can, though, easily spend hours playing with words. Frustrating at times, but always engrossing.

Which non-writing aspect(s) of your life most influences your writing?

My house appears to be the main character in my work. It provides a fund of images and activities, from dust falling to water boiling. Memory is another great source for my writing—memory of travels, raising children, childhood. And I confess, in spite of myself, I’m frequently drawn to loss, an impulse that I’ve stopped fighting.

What writing advice has stayed with you?

My late husband, who was a painter, said, “Stay with it,” meaning that we improve with practice and tenacity.

What is your favorite book (or essay, poem, short story)? Favorite writer(s)?

Henry James, Joseph Conrad, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Patrick White, Samuel Beckett, and Kafka are among the writers that repeatedly wow me.

What are you reading right now?

Right now I’m rereading W. G. Sebald, starting with Austerlitz. I also recently reread Moby Dick. Yes, the book I detested in University, I loved this time around.

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

I’ve just completed my most autobiographical collection about a mother-daughter relationship.

JANE O. WAYNE’S work has appeared in PoetryThe Iowa ReviewPloughsharesThe American ScholarThe JournalThe Cincinnati ReviewThe Massachusetts ReviewPoetry NorthwestThe Michigan Quarterly ReviewVerse Daily and elsewhere. Her books include Looking Both Ways, which received the Devins Award for Poetry, and A Strange Heartwhich received the Marianne Moore Prize and the Society of Midland Authors Award, and From the Night Album (Pecan Grove) and The Other Place You Live (Mayapple Press).

Featured Image: “Tea time!” by abrinsky