I met Lynn online through a mutual author friend when she announced her newest work So Imagine Me: Nature Riddles in Poetry. Lynn is the author of three collections of poetry and her work has been short-listed for a Governor General’s Award, as well as the Gerald Lampert Award.
It’s always a pleasure to have another New Brunswick author on the Scribbler. Lynn has generously agreed to a 4Q Interview and is sharing some of her work.
Lynn Davies is the author of three books of poetry, and most recently, her first book for children, So Imagine Me – Nature Riddles in Poetry. Her poems have been broadcast on CBC, translated into French and Spanish, and nominated for a Governor General's Award. She is the proud mother of two grown children, Josie and Patrick, and she lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick with her partner, Dave Macfarlane.
4Q: Let’s talk about your recent release, So Imagine Me. You recently had a book signing and I understand it went quite well. Tell us about the book.
LD: So Imagine Me is a picture book of riddle poems about the natural world, published by Nimbus Publishing in Halifax. Some of the riddles are easy, and some are tricky! The vibrant illustrations by the Fredericton artist, Chrissie Park-MacNeil give colour, texture, and setting to the poems, and add some extra clues. I wrote the poems over a period of ten years or so, and the manuscript, in various forms, visited fifteen publishers, before finding a happy home with Nimbus.
4Q: There are other collections you have published. Can you tell us a bit about them?
LD: My first collection of poems, The Bridge That Carried the Road, was published by Brick Books in 1999, went through three printings, and was nominated for several awards. When I wrote those poems, I was a mother of young children, and the only time I could write was early, early in the morning with a thermos of coffee before anyone else was up. My second book, Where Sound Pools, was published by Goose Lane Editions in 2005. It's now out of print, and I think was a more confident book than the first. Then life got in the way, and my third book, how the gods pour tea, emerged eight years later, again with Goose Lane. One huge plus working with these publishers was the attentive editing my poems received from other fine poets, John Donlan, Brian Bartlett, and Ross Leckie.
4Q: Please share a childhood memory and/or anecdote.
LD: When I was growing up, we lived in Newcastle, New Brunswick for five years. I remember visiting The Old Manse Library, often carrying overdue books, and Dr. Louise Manney peering down at me over the front desk and saying something like, “you owe us money again”. If she wasn't checking books in and out, she was in her office of many windows by the front door, maybe writing. She was the first writer I knew. I loved that library, and I remember the room at the end of the hall to the left with its shelves of books for young readers. I remember the shelf with my favourite books, the heft of those hardcover books, even the texture and smell of the thick and worn pages.
4Q: You write poetry and stories for children. I imagine this to be quite difficult. What draws you to this genre?
LD: I read a lot of novels for young readers, especially when I tire of the world we've made for ourselves as adults. And I love and admire picture books; the good ones are as condensed as poetry and a big part of the telling is in the artful pictures. When I can't sleep at night, I often look at picture books. Dennis Lee once said that he wrote for the layers of kid inside him. I can't think of a better line for explaining why I enjoy writing for children.
4Q: Please tell us about your workshops.
LD: I often hang the writing on an activity like walking or making something with our hands. The cutting, folding, and sewing of a simple book is like an entry-hall, a place where the chit-chat of the brain is shed and space opens up in our heads for stories or poetic lines. So, we make a book and begin to write, sometimes with prompts in a three-hour workshop. Likewise, cutting, arranging, and pasting images for a collage involves the hands and invites new and unusual connections that can generate writing that feels fresh, again in a three to four-hour workshop. And walking . . . well, walking is a big one and many writers have written of how they've walked themselves into stories and resolution, out of messes and projects that didn't work, into the perfect word for that eighth line, out of that paragraph or stanza that needed to be abandoned. So I run a day-long workshop that toggles back and forth from walking to writing, from observation to working with what we find in the world we walk through. A walk can beckon writing and can inhabit our writing. Of course, these days of the frisky virus, it's hard to offer in-person workshops, and I'm working at moving my school presentations into an online format.
4Q: Favorite authors, poets or books?
LD: Lately I've been rereading old favourites like The Hobbit and Emily of New Moon. These books still work for me. Last week I finished Watership Down, and I'm still missing the company of rabbits. Last summer it took me three and a half months to get through Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy; I loved that thick, marvellous book and the world it laid out for me. I'm often reading non-fiction and enjoyed Walking Home by Simon Armitage. Favourite poets are always changing for me, but ones I return to often are George Herbert, George MacKay Brown, Eric Miller, Anne Compton, and Sue Sinclair.
4Q: What’s next for Lynn Davies?
LD: I'm often working on several projects at a time. Right now, I'm writing a series of essays. And new poems. And I've started a book-length bus-poem for very young children.
4Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
LD: Thanks for asking questions! I'm grateful for your interest, Allan.
**You are most welcome, Lynn.
Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission.
Thank you, Lynn, for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your writing.
For all you wonderful visitors wanting to discover more about Lynn and her writing, please follow these links:
favourite bookstores: www.westminsterbooks.com