Interview Up at Mulberry Literary

I am gratified that the editors of Mulberry Literary decided to ask me a set of well-thought-out, probing questions, and have now put these and my answers up on their site. Many thanks to Katie Lynn Johnston and the Mulberry Literary team for creating and publishing the interview.

Because “home” is something of a theme in the poem the editors selected (“Mercy,” which I wrote about here), the Mulberry team asked about it in the interview. I found I had a lot to say about home and my feelings about it. I even realized, while I was answering the interview questions, that home was a central theme in my work. So the interview is titled, “The Many Meanings of Home with Lorna Wood.” Go check it out.

My home when I was growing up. Taken by me, much later.

Wolfpack Invitation and 2% Milk Update

Doug Smith, Gibbon wolf pack standing on snow. 1 March 2007. Wikimedia Commons. PD.

I was grateful and excited to receive an invitation from Editor David L O’Nan, of Fevers of the Mind, to become a monthly contributor. A wolf is central to the logo for the site, so he is calling us collectively, “Wolfpack Contributors.”

While I am flattered, at first one piece of writing a month seemed a tall order. Some months I don’t produce any suitable pieces, and much as I appreciate Editor O’Nan, I might not want to send him every suitable piece I do produce.

Fortunately, this anxiety intersected with the impossibility of unsubscribing from the undead yam’s emailing list. Occasionally, the spirit moves me to complete this tuber’s questionnaires so I can vent my spleen by ticking “No” when he asks me if I think he was a great president, etc. Towards the end, in the “other” category, I advise him to confess to his many crimes and go to prison for the good of the country.

As a result, I got on his mailing list and cannot unsubscribe. “You can’t get off it?” my husband asks incredulously. “Isn’t that illegal?”

My husband can be naive. (I had to explain to him why the Tea Baggers changed their name.) As if manipulating the “unsubscribe” option on his emailings would bother a grifting, multiply alleged serial rapist turned twice-impeached wannabe dictator whose biggest achievement in office was kidnapping children and putting them in camps, or undermining our democracy, or maybe weakening NATO and emboldening Putin, or mismanaging the pandemic–oh heck. So many achievements to choose from!

We can now add one more to the list: he has become my muse. Fresh off my can poem series, I was wondering if something similar might be in my poetic future, and I was drawn to the yam’s unique rhetorical ad style. The grandiose statements, combined with a smarmy hectoring, present rich opportunities. Suffice to say, I have plenty of material now, which I look forward to sharing.

Meanwhile, at 2% Milk . . .

Curators Nic, Lilly, and Reed have sent us the art they plan to post. I took a peek at work by musical artist Ha Vay, and I am amazed and bewildered. At my advanced age, after being a confirmed nerd my entire life, have I been asked to play with the cool kids?! Stay tuned.

Glass-Half-Full Rejection Becomes Surprise Acceptance

Photo credit: Sealle, Glass half full or half empty. 3 Aug. 2017. Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Some time ago, I posted about an honorable mention in The Third Corona Book of Horror Stories. While gratifying, this was obviously not the brass ring I had been hoping for. At some point after that, I read that the anthology series was paused owing to the unfortunate coincidence of its name with the type of virus causing the pandemic. I published my story, “The Jet-Black Knight,” which I wrote about here, in 34 Orchard and thought that was the end of it, at least until I wrote enough generically congenial stories to put out my own collection.

Imagine my surprise and pleasure, therefore, to find an email from Editor Lewis Williams offering publication of the previously rejected story in The Fourth Corona Book of Horror Stories! The only wrinkle was that Editor Kristi Petersen Schoonover, of 34 Orchard, had instigated some significant revision of the story, which had necessitated (in my view) a change in the ending. This had to do with unifying the story and the narrator’s psyche using a connection between children in the work. Would Editor Williams agree with me that the revision was an improvement or prefer the older version (which, of course, I would still happily allow him to publish despite my preference for the revision)?

Within only a couple of days, he got back to me. He and his colleague, Sue, had gone over the story. Kindly, Williams revealed to me that, while Sue agreed with me and Editor Schoonover, he preferred the original, especially for its ending: “I found myself remembering the original ending long after I’d first read the story and it became something of a regret of mine that we didn’t decide to include it in The Third Book of Corona Horror Stories.” Nevertheless, he was democratically willing to go along with Sue and me and use the revised version.

Naturally, his view of the original ending was gratifying, especially since I agonized quite a lot about how much to explain in that version, and was, frankly, relieved to be rid of the agony in the revised story. His comments did raise some doubts about whether we were doing the right thing, though, as well as some thoughts about gender and reading, since I, Kristi, and Sue–all women–sacrificed the mystical existential ending Lewis liked for the sake of more emphasis on the children and greater narrative unity. In the end, I didn’t think I could make the old ending work with the revision, which I still believe is an improvement, so I sacrificed it. I would also add that the new ending is based on my father’s telling me how he used to pretend to be shot and fall down saying “Bang I’m dead” while his father was away in World War I. I found that good, chilling material, though I can also understand how Lewis saw the first ending, with the narrator alone confronting his demons, as strong.

Anyway, I hope any of you struggling with rejections will find my experience encouraging. Many thanks to Lewis Williams and Sue.

“Lines on Elephants Having Breakfast” Is Up on Grand Little Things

Me with an elephant at Glen Afric Lodge. Taken by our guide, Tim Smith. Summer, 2019.

My poem about my close encounter with elephants, which I wrote about here, is now up at Grand Little Things. Many thanks to Founding Editor Patrick Key and team. If you need something light and pleasant in your life these days, head on over and read my poem. If you want more than just pleasant, hang out and read other grand little things. The journal has a rich and varied menu of offerings.

Poem on Elephants Accepted by Grand Little Things

Me with an elephant at Glen Afric Lodge. Taken by our guide, Tim Smith. Summer, 2019.

Some inspiring experiences, like my early-morning kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, readily suggest a poem. Others, like my visit to the Grand Canyon, or my trip to an elephant sanctuary outside of Johannesburg, are so awe-inspiring that I feel unequal to capturing them. With the Grand Canyon, I ultimately wrote a sequence of three extremely simple three-line poems which are currently out and about, so I’ll probably be discussing them later here. For the elephants, I similarly wrote a short rhyming poem suitable for children or adults.

I don’t exactly feel that I failed. It seemed inappropriate to compete with the reality in grandeur and sublimity. No doubt a better writer could do it, but in both cases what I sought to convey was the way the rocks and the elephants, respectively, did not respond to my human desire to connect with them. This feeling of distance was paradoxically central to my experience of the sublime in both encounters.

But whereas short, quirky nature poems should find a home somewhere, short, quirky, rhyming poems about nature, especially ones likely to appeal to children, are much harder to place. I don’t usually write rhyming poems, and the only reason I wrote this one was that the editor of Prime Number Magazine invented a poetic form involving prime numbers of syllables and rhyming lines, and they sponsored a contest for such poems.

My poem about the elephants didn’t go anywhere, and I have since re-lineated it because I don’t believe my attempt to execute the correct prime number of syllables was convincing. Nevertheless, I think the poem conveys my experience in a charming way, and I’m grateful to the editors of Grand Little Things for finding merit in it.

I would end with something unequivocally bright, but that seems inappropriate as we teeter on the brink of World War III and climate apocalypse. Here’s a compromise:

Cohen Anthology Arrives

Anthology inspired by Leonard Cohen, Before I Turn Into Gold. Taken by me, against a background of my favorite striped azaleas.

This anthology arrived today. It has my poem, ““Hearing ‘Hallelujah’ at the Women’s March, 2017,” in it. I wrote about the poem here. The volume seems to contain a good variety of work, and the visual art is good, too, as the cover suggests.

I like the pose here. The tilted angle of the head and the back turned toward the viewer convey introspection, but there is also a certain intransigence in the cane and the way the figure blocks us. At the same time, the hat is almost rakish. The picture captures a lot without showing us the face. If you would like to contemplate more interesting responses to Cohen, click on the title link in the caption, above, and buy yourself a Kindle or paperback copy.