I’ve been impressed and honored to feature so many great poets for Women in Horror Month, and that continues with today’s guest, Lynne Sargent..
When did you discover poetry and who/what influenced you?
The first poetry I encountered was Tolkien’s, as a child I loved poetry that was seeded into the books I loved to read. I started seeking out external poetry after coming across Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shallot” in Meg Cabot’s Avalon High. After I started writing poetry in high school as the result of a book report assignment, I also fell in love with Dickinson, Wilde, Plath, and when I found speculative poetry and started publishing, my horizons broadened even further and now I love poets like Amal El-Mohtar, Leah Bobet, Holly Lyn Walrath, and Brandon O’Brien. In general, my poetry is hugely influenced by politics, myths, and fairy tales.
Why do you write poetry?
I write poetry because it’s how I organize my brain. Poetry writing is an intense and sidelong endeavor in journaling, and its also how I work through ideas/emotions/problems that are too complex to handle in plain language.
She put a grain of sand
under my eyelid,
not a pea
under my mattress
and still, I do not sleep.
Each morning comes,
the performed joy of waking
for his honor, the unemotional tears
second, unbidden, borne of irritation
or exhaustion, I know not
I yawn at the day
at how carefully they scrub my skin
how precisely they watch my hand
with the knife at the dinner table.
I never pretended to be a princess,
I just was a discomforted woman
-and that was enough for them to avoid
the cost of a corset.
Now I dream of bedding you,
how you will lick my face clean
again, give me new eyes
like a new name.
Our kingdom will be a hundred mattresses high
all of them waiting to be stained salty,
too uncomfortable to look
upon, and you will know
the grating that can keep you
## Previously published in Dreams & Nightmares
What do you think is the most difficult aspect in writing poetry?
I find the most difficult aspect in writing poetry is the editing: refining an idea down, keeping it focused, ensuring the punctuation and breaks say exactly what you want to say, and making specific things general or camouflaged enough that readers can find something to grasp onto and see themselves in.
Do you explore particular themes? What are they and why?
The themes I find myself coming back to time and time again are issues of oppression, and the ways that stories can challenge oppression or reinforce it. As storytellers and writers, we have a fine line to walk making sure that the things we write are moving, but also that they have responsible messages.
What is it about dark (speculative) poetry that you think attracts people to read it?
I think dark poetry is attractive because in some ways it’s taboo, and it lets us talk about taboo things. Poetry is often about vulnerability and honesty, saying things that can’t be said in other ways. Dark subjects share that with poetry so they suit each other well. I also think in some ways poetry makes the grotesque more manageable, we make it pretty so its harder to look away.
They eat the children’s dancing skins
to the soundtrack of thunder in the next room over
while I take off your clothes,
and your flesh, and make love
to the naked muscles and bones beneath.
We chopped off limbs like they were butter,
rode dirt bikes through decrepit parking lots
told campfire stories while watching the gangrene seep into our skin
crawl its way all the way up to our eyeballs,
until the sunrise only looked like hunger.
and now here I am-
at screams and storms and meaty pieces
bloody, but satiated.
## Previously published in Polar Borealis
What projects (publications) are you working on or have coming up?
I’m working on getting my first book ready for publication with Renaissance Press! A Refuge of Tales is chock full of fairy tales and myths, and how they still influence our lives and the stories we tell about our world now. It’s my first collection (full-length) or otherwise so its very exciting and very nerve wracking.
Is there anything else you want to say about horror or poetry?
Let poetry wash over you! If you don’t understand it, that’s okay, just relax and let it make you feel how you will feel. Anyone can read and/or love poetry; its not just for critics and experts in literary analysis!
Lynne Sargent is a writer, aerialist, and philosophy Ph.D student currently studying at the University of Waterloo. Her work has appeared in venues such as Strange Horizons, Dreams and Nightmares, and Augur Magazine, among others. She is a Rhysling and Aurora Award Nominated poet. Her first poetry collection A Refuge of Tales is forthcoming from Renaissance Press, and received an Ontario Arts Council Grant. If you want to find out more, reach out to her on Twitter @SamLynneS, or find a complete list of her published works at scribbledshadows.wordpress.com