Monday, October 21, 2019

LIFE OF A POET ~ LORI RYAN

Today we are visiting another of our new members, Lori Ryan, a fellow Canadian, who blogs at WRITING UNBOUND: a Collection of Words. Lori lives in  Ontario, in eastern Canada. I am so looking forward to getting to know her better! Let's dive in.






Sherry:  Lori, it is so nice to meet another Canadian poet. Tell us a bit about yourself, won’t you? 

Lori: Hello Sherry.  As you mentioned I’m Canadian.  I love living here and have travelled around much of the country.  I love the diversity of Canada both in people as well as landscape, although I could do with a little less of this crazy climate!




I’m married with two children.  They are awesome people and make me laugh all the time.  My kids have a resiliency of spirit and the kindest hearts imaginable.  They make me so unbelievably proud.  As a rule, I don’t share their photos online, but this is one of my favourite pics of them having fun diving off the dock at the cottage. 

I work in publishing as an education resource consultant.  I find books that tie into the Canadian curriculum and make recommendations to schools and libraries.   I feel really lucky because I’m one of those people that loves their job.  The publishing world has definitely changed since I first started… 20 years ago!  I’ve watched the shift from print to ebooks.  I will always be a fan of the printed word but I think there’s room for both. 

Actually, that is why my blog is called Writing Unbound.  I’m not sure I will ever have my poetry published in print so I consider my blog to be a book without binding.  It also playfully expresses the idea that there is so much to write that it’s boundless.  


Sherry: It is boundless indeed. When you look back at your childhood, do you see indications that you feel contributed to your becoming a poet?

Lori: When I was a child I struggled learning how to read.  I was given books that came with a record and a small record player to play them on.  (I still have it actually.)  I remember listening to a book of nursery rhymes; to the rhythm and flow of the writing and the rhyme of the text.  By listening while reading, the words slowly started to make sense to me.  I can still recite all the nursery rhymes by heart.  I take inspiration from children’s literature and nursery rhymes quite often.

Sherry: That is a cool story! Was there someone back then you feel was a significant influence, who encouraged or inspired your writing?

Lori: I had a lot of teachers that supported my writing.  A few submitted my work for competition.  I had short stories and poetry that were selected for school publications.  

I struggled learning how to read; but I also struggled with writing.  The structure of language was a mystery to me.  When I was in Grade 9, my teacher Mrs. Quinlan, pulled me aside, she couldn’t understand why I couldn’t structure a sentence properly.   She worked with me one-on-one to fill in all the gaps I was missing.  She showed me how punctuation can change the understanding of what is written.  How grammar is just as important as the words when trying to convey meaning.   I credit her for instilling in me a love of the written word that would carry me right through University. I still love playing with words and meaning and structure.  Although I quite frequently write poetry without punctuation.

Sherry: This is an example of the lifelong impact a caring teacher has on a child's life. Yay, Mrs. Quinlan.

When did you start writing poetry, Lori? What do you love about it?

Lori: I’ve written poetry since grade school.  One of the first pieces I remember writing was a Christmas poem in Grade 4.   I stopped writing when I graduated University and started working.  You get busy with life, and family, and it seemed I never had time.  And then one day inspiration struck and it was as if the flood gates opened.  I realized how much I had missed writing.  How important it is to me.  How I get a better sense of myself through my writing.  

I write on a variety of topics and in an assortment of styles.  I like trying everything and I’m continually editing. I love getting feedback.  I like finding out what other people see in my poetry because sometimes it’s completely different than what I expect. That, to me, is the best part, because you can never be wrong.  We read ourselves into the words and find connection.   I have a fun side too.  I don’t think all writing needs to be serious, sometimes it’s just for fun, and I love playing around with words that have multiple meanings so things can be read in a variety of ways. 

Sherry: I love it when poetry is fun! Would you choose three of your poems and share them with us?


Lori: I picked three poems and one prose piece… I hope that’s ok. :) 

Find Me: A Free Verse Poem

Free verse is my favourite style of poetry.  Most of my free verse writing ends up having a sort of conversational tone as this one does; where it is me speaking to my reader.   I like the intimacy that it creates.  This type of poetry is also the most personal for me.  It is introspective and emotional.  Generally, I am a very outgoing person, happy, and almost always wearing a smile, but I have a darker side too, and I need moments of quiet to “find me” again. 


It is easy to find me
When I am shining
And radiant
Full of laughter
And smiles
Sparkling
Under the glare
Of the blazing sun

But I need you to find me
In my darkness
When I am quiet
And still
A grain of sand
Amongst a million
Grains of sand
Lost beneath the stars
Can you find me then?

Words: ©2017LCR




Image: CCO


Heavy: A 17 Word Write

I like short writes. I like condensing an idea into a bare minimum of words. This is one of my writes where I play with word meaning.   When something is heavy you think of it as a burden to carry but in this case, when it is felt, love lifts us. 


Love is not light
It has depth
And breadth
Generating
A hearty abundance
True love has weight

Words: ©2019LCR


Image: CCO


Poet vs. Fighter: A Structured Write

My children train in Tae Kwon Do.  One evening while I was watching their patterns class it struck me how much fighting and writing have in common.  That we each hold weapons in our hands.  Fighters use their fists to punch, writers use their fists to hold a pen.  Watching the movements of the patterns is like watching poetry; there is a beauty and flow to it.  This piece lent itself well to a back and forth structure, as if watching a sparring match and in the end the roles are reversed.  The poet at the beginning becomes the fighter in the end and vice versa. 


I am the poet
You are the fighter
You are the muse
I am the writer

I am the pen
You are the fist
You are the punch
I'm the flick of a wrist

I am the words
You are the blows
You are immovable
I am what flows
                             
I am the stanza                                                    
You are the stance
You are the kick
I am the glance
  
I am the laurel
You are the wreath
You are the bite
I am the teeth

I am the scholar
You are the trained
You are the genuine
I am the feigned

I am the sword
You are the steel
You are the hurt
I am the heal

I am the thought
You are the cause
You are the motion
I am the pause

I am the poem
You are the prose
You are the round
I am the close

I am the match
You're the igniter
You are the poet
I am the fighter

©10/2018LCR


Image: Woodcut by Ogata Gekko, 1895


The Way the World Ends: A 100 word story


I write prose pieces as well as poetry.  I’ve always loved short story and I started writing 100 word stories.  I like the challenge to create a mood or evoke a thought in exactly 100 words.  For some reason quite a lot of my ideas hit me while I’m in the shower (most inconvenient time for a writer.) The thought: ‘What would be the strangest way you could imagine the world ending?’ Probably the fastest shower I’ve ever had as I had to get out to write this one down.  Lol.
   


Nobody expected the world to end quite like thisbecause of an overpopulation of butterflies.  It would be a mass extinction by monarch.  Everyone knew about the butterfly effect.  If a single butterfly flapped its wings it could create a hurricane on the other side of the world.  Well, no one thought about the consequences of a battalion of butterflies all flapping their wings at the exact same time.   The weather was just starting to turn, the wind picking up.  How strange that this would be the way the world would end, not with a bang, but a flutter. 

Words: ©2019LCR



Gif Image: No Claim


Sherry: I love the originality of the idea that the world might end with a flutter. You likely enjoy Magaly's Pantry of Prose every month! Make sure to link. I especially love "Poet Vs. Fighter". It is quite wonderful.

When did you begin blogging, Lori? How has it impacted your work?

Lori: I’ve been blogging since 2013.  It’s basically been a run of trial and error.  Seeing what works and what doesn’t.   I’ve tried to keep my blog as simple and stream-lined as possible.  That’s probably a reflection of my writing as well.  I like it to be simple and to the point.  I have a very conversational tone in most of my writing.  And I wanted my blog to reflect that feeling as well.




Sherry: I think you achieve that very well. I see you have a second blog of book reviews titled Reading Abounds. Scratch a writer, and you will find a voracious reader. Name one book that stands out above the rest, to you. Why do you love it? 

Lori: I read so much, both for pleasure and for work, that I needed a way to catalogue all the titles as well as organize my thoughts on them.  I love so many books for a variety of reasons, but one of the books I love most, and might well be the most influential book I read growing up, is “Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt.  




I think it’s the book’s discussion of immortality that struck me the most.  Given the opportunity, would you want to live forever?   But the problem with living forever is that you no longer participate in life; you’re simply existing, watching as life passes you by.  The world around you changes and you always remain the same.  So while death might be a sad ending it also means that you lived.   As a child, I hadn’t given much thought to death, and I think this book deals with it beautifully.   We are not meant to be everlasting.   

Sherry:  That fact is what makes life so precious, I think. What other activities do you enjoy when you aren’t writing (or reading!)

Lori: I love music.  I listen to almost everything and I sing all the time.  Music, is poetry with sound.   I also play the piano.  I love the water.  It is my element and I swim like a fish.  If I was a mythical creature I think I would probably be a siren.   

Sherry: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us that I don’t know you well enough to ask?

Lori: Three quick facts about me:

1. My favourite character on Sesame Street is Cookie Monster.  
2. I’m a Rock Hound and a Numismatist.
3. Orange is my favourite colour because it is the happiest.   

Sherry: I learned a new word: numismatist, a collector of coins! Cool.

Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United? How did you find us? How do you like us so far? LOL.

Lori: I used to have a profile on Google Plus and I was a member of a few poetry communities there.  After G+ closed I started my poetry blog but I missed the interaction with my fellow poets.  I did a blog search to see if something similar was available on Blogger and Poets United was the second result that came up in my search.  I must admit to having watched the interaction between poets for awhile before joining.  I was very impressed by the writing and the engagement between poets; as well as the variety of prompts that were offered.  I am so very happy to have found you.  Thank you for having me. 

Sherry: We are happy you found us, kiddo. Keep coming back. Thank you for this very lovely visit!

Well, my friends? We hope you enjoyed this wonderful chat. Next week will be my last Monday feature at Poets United. Mary and I will be sharing a poem and some thoughts with you, before we hop on our brooms and fly away! We hope you will stop by and say hi.




37 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for featuring me Sherry. I am very humbled to have been selected for your Life of a Poet Series. I'm truly happy to be part of this wonderful community of poets.

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  2. You are most welcome, Lori. It is my pleasure. Sigh. My last Life of a Poet! How I have loved doing these features, and hearing peoples' stories. It never gets old. Maybe I should have been a biographer. Smiles.

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  3. I enjoy all your writing, Lori, but poet vs. Fighter knocked my socks off. It belongs out there with Ars Poetica and other poems. How lucky poetry and education is to have your participation!

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  4. And Sherry, this is a marvelous showing for the last interview. Your skill is giving the pits the platform. Much love 💘

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  5. I am so glad you clarified that, my friend. I am cackling.........

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    1. I nearly spit out my drink! Laughing. so. hard!

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  6. I enjoyed getting to know Lori through your interview, Sherry, and was pleased to see that she is another writer who is linked to education and libraries. I also like playing around with words and short writes.

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  7. A wonderfully informative interview of an extremely enjoyable poet, whose work at Writing Unbound I'm only now discovering but will most certainly be following closely. Thanks, Sherry, for this (and all previous) interviews, and thanks, too, to Lori for sharing these 3 poems, all the interview's personal info and insights, and for sharing your wonderful blog with us.
    Bookmarked!

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    1. Thanks Ron! I'm enjoying yours immensely as well.

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  8. Sherry, what a nice feature of another Canadian poet. Lori, I love the honesty of your poetry, the realness of it, the vulnerability. These are qualities I don't always find in today's blogosphere. "Find Me" especially struck me. I also liked "Poet vs. Fighter" and the contrasts you wrote about so very effectively. A really interesting read, both of you! Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Mary. I sometimes find it hard putting some pieces out there but I think if I feel a particular way than there is a very good chance someone else feels the same way too. It's those sparks of connection I hope for.

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  9. A great interview, Sherry, as ever. What a vibrant, fascinating person Lori is! I loved all the writings shared here, Poet vs Fighter most of all – quite brilliant.

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    1. Thank you! That is very much appreciated!

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  10. What a wonderful share! I'm just in from voting in the Canadian Federal Election and I open to Poets United, an International Poetry Forum featuring a post by two Canadian poets. At the moment, it seems to be raining maple leaves ~ smiles ~ How nice to be introduced to another fellow Canadian poet. I truly enjoyed your writing, Lori - its clarity and depth - and look forward to seeing more of it. And you are so lucky to have found such meaningful work that dovetails so nicely with your interest in writing and books.

    And Sherry … as I gather, from Susan's comment that this is your last interview for Poets United … 'Golly': words fail me (an awkward state of affairs for a poet, I know ~ smiles ~) The contribution that you have made to our community of poets: the respect with which you have honoured and showcased our work and the support that you have lent to each and every one of us is really fantastic. From those who you have featured as their labour-of-love, much-anticipated book of poems is finally published - to those (of-all-ages) struggling to keep at it, and for whom (I have no doubt) your encouraging words meant so much … you are a treasure. Thank you … thank you … thank you, dear Sherry.

    An awesome interview … and a lovely note to end a Splendiferous Series on. Great job on this, Poets!

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    1. Another fellow Canadian! 🍁 Thank you so much!

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  11. Thank you, Wendy, my friend. It was my joy to feature each and every
    single poet, once a week since 2010. I feel good about the contribution. I am not able to sit at my desk so long any more, too physically painful, so it is time to slow my pace. Thank you for your kind words. One last feature next Monday, as Mary and I say "see you!" Then I will be like all of you, writing, linking and visiting.......never too far from Poets United, which has been one of the great joys of my life.

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  12. Enjoyed this delightful chat so much, Lori. And what to speak of the poem Poet vs. Fighter! There is delight everywhere from your children's joy in water to poems to prose to conversations. I wouldn't mind if the world ended in flutter :) Lovely interview, Sherry, as always.

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  13. I'm glad you found Poets United Lori - good to get to know you

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    1. Thank you! I'm so pleased to be meeting so many wonderful poets.

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  14. I enjoyed reading this interview. Lori, the pieces that you shared are great! Also, I too love the book Tuck Everlasting.

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    1. It's fabulous isn't it! It's one of those books I pick up again and again. Thank you so much.

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  15. Lori, it's such a pleasure to read this interview, and to know a bit more of the person and the poetry.
    your poem "Poet vs. Fighter" is a delight to read. i like the contrasts and at the same time the similarities of the two characters. because i think a poet is a fighter too for he has to fight rejections, his emotions and even his physical surroundings. i hope i am making sense, haha.

    Sherry, thank you for another excellent interview. :)

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  16. Thank you so much. And I understand entirely. :)

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  17. What a wonderful and insightful interview!

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  18. I so enjoyed reading more about Lori. I love her poetry and she is always an encouraging force in the blogosphere! My favorite poem shared here is Poet vs. Fighter! A truly wonderful piece of poetry!! Thank you for yet another wonderful interview Sherry!!

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    1. Thank you Carrie! I remember you commenting on that piece on my blog. (That helped me choose that particular poem to share here!) Your support is very must appreciated.

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  19. Lori, I love how you learned how to read--and not just because it reminds me so much about my own experience. Also, I'm all smiles at the thought that a teacher helped you fall in love with words. Teachers and librarians are superheroes in my heart. And those who recommend great books for a living are definitely part of that gang.

    Thank you for sharing, Sherry!

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    1. Thanks Magaly. Learning to read was a real struggle. I'm pretty sure I'm mildly dyslexic. Something my kids have inherited only worse... and school seems so much harder for them now than it was for me. Those teachers and librarians that go above and beyond really are superheroes!

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