All of your parents—both birth and adoptive—are dead. How do you feel about the fact that they never had the chance to read some of the things you’ve written about them?

I’m not sure they have never read them; are you? Actually, I think my dad would get a kick out of recalling how much he enjoyed that Life magazine cover shot of Dorothy Dandridge (see: “Daddy Registered Republican, 1931—[1]“), however, I don’t think my mother would appreciate being reminded of our conversation about my “sexual exploits” (ha!) (see: “Red Background”).

 

Are there some allusions I’m missing in your poem titled “While She Was Out Stealing, I Slept in Beverly’s Womb”?

You mean other than that I liberally lifted and recombined lines from Raymond Chandler’s oeuvre?

 

Do you worry there are persons who won’t relate to the poems Fretwork and if so, how do you describe those persons.…

Yes. Persons who have no relations….

 

Your friend, Gayle Brandeis, who conducted a self-interview for TNB, stated repeatedly that she is not afraid of ghosts; are you? 

Yes. See “Lost Spirits”, “Queens” and “Haint and Haint”. Also, I think a rather rude ghost is asking me these questions……

 

Do you consider yourself a queen?

See above.

 

Is there anything in the room where you write that frightens you?

Siri, who lives in my cell phone, speaks from time to time when I have not asked her a question, claims she sees persons I have never seen.  See “the birth father”, Fretwork.

 

Are you eating something while this interview is being conducted?

Of course—would you like a plate of cod cakes and plantain? Oh and see “Haiku—More or Less—for West Indian Palates”.

 

Do you think your poems play nicely together?

Lucille Clifton once said in a workshop that when she’s compiling a manuscript, she strews the poems on the floor and the ones that want to be together find each other. I strew my manuscripts on the floor and nothing happened even when I told them to talk among themselves. Nevertheless with the help of fellow poets Candace Pearson, Susan Terris, and Jerry Garcia, I managed to compile Fretwork. Even now, however, I think “Light Curving Away From Earth” doesn’t like its neighbor “Composition #3” and “Who Giveth This Girl?” resents being last in the collection.

 

Who is your ideal reader?

Someone who plays a mean tambourine; see: “Tambourine”.

 

What recently-published poetry collections would you recommend to your ideal reader?

Coleman, Wanda Wicked Enchantment
Jackson, Major The Absurd Man
Kevorkian, Karen Quivira
Murray, Abby E. Hail and Farewell
Murillo, John Kontemporary American Poetry


All references are to poems collected in Fretwork.

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LYNNE THOMPSON is the author of Start With a Small Guitar (What Books Press) and Beg No Pardon, winner of the Perugia Book Award and the Great Lakes Colleges New Writers Award. In 2018, Jane Hirshfield selected her manuscript Fretwork as the winner of the Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize and the collection was published in 2019.. Thompson is the recipient of multiple awards among them an Individual Art Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles, a Tucson Literary Award, and a finalist nod from the Derricotte-Eady Chapbook Prize. Her most recent work appears or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, New England Review, Pleiades, American Poetry Journal, 2020 Best American Poetry, as well as the anthologies The Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles and Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. Thompson serves on the Boards of Cave Canem and the Los Angeles Review of Books and is Chair of the Board of Trustees of her alma mater, Scripps College.

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