I haven’t shared a lot From the Mailbox since I started doing the Carib Lit Plus series incorporating a lot of stuff received in the mailbox(es) but I so enjoyed the interview below from Myriad Publications’ October 2020 mailing – an installment of its My Bookish Life series…this one with Canada based Jamaican poet (most recent poet laureate of Jamaica) Lorna Goodison, that I thought I’d share it in full (hope Myriad doesn’t mind – I’ll link you their website). Consider it a present to the loyal readers of the blog. Merry Christmas.
My Bookish Life with…
Every week we’re talking to one of our writerly or bookish friends, getting a little insight into their daily lives.
This week we’re joined by Lorna Goodison, author of nine collections of poetry, three collections of short stories and an award-winning memoir. Her first-ever collection of essays, Redemption Ground (Myriad), interweaves the personal and political to explore themes that have occupied her working life.
Have you been writing during these strange times, and are you generally managing to stay creative?
My husband Ted and I returned from London on March 9th and went straight into self-isolation. Except for my recent visit to see relatives in Jamaica, we’ve been at home in Halfmoon Bay, British Columbia ever since. For the first six weeks I mostly read books I’d been meaning to read and re-read for a while. I fell asleep many nights reading sections of William Wordsworth’s Prelude and Derek Walcott’s Another Life, hoping some of the pastoral settings in those poems would find their way into my anxious dreams. But then I began to feel uncomfortably full of words and images and that for me is always a signal that I should start paying attention to my own work. Since then I’ve written seven or eight new poems, and I’ve done extensive revisions to a new collection that I hope will be out in 2021. I’ve also done a few small watercolours, so I guess I am managing to stay creative.
Do you have advice for anyone feeling creatively, or mentally, squashed right now, and what’s helping you to focus?
Everyone I know is simply doing the best they can to keep going through these dread times. Some days are more difficult to get through than others, and at the end of those really difficult days I tend to feel as if I’ve completed a heroic set of tasks if I manage to make lunch and dinner, do laundry, write a poem, watch some TV, listen to music, speak to friends or family on the telephone, and eventually fall into bed having managed to wash up and change into pyjamas. Yay! Made it through another day. I recommend lashings of gratitude as an antidote to feeling mentally squashed. Gratitude and sending cards and letters and emails and such to anyone you think might be in need of a word of kindness right now.
What are your small daily comforts?
Small daily comforts include sitting by the seaside if the weather is reasonable and just breathing in the clean salt air. I like to cook, and so most days I try to make something delicious that will fill the house with good smells and cause us to look forward to dinner. We have an excellent fish shop in the town of Sechelt, and the couple who run it are good friends of ours. Most evenings we are blessed to have really fresh fish. I miss Jamaican food, so most mornings I make myself some green banana porridge with coconut milk. Very comforting. Maybe I’ll try to write a cookbook.
Do you have a good view from your window?
It’s a toss up between the view of the front yard where Ted grows gorgeous roses, and there is a wonderful marble carving – titled the Apuan Buddha done by Canadian sculptor Kent Laforme – and the back yard which faces the sea. The sea where we sometimes see whales go by, and where seals come and keep me company when I sit down by the shore to write. Both views are amazing.
What are you looking forward to, either in the world of writing and books or the wider picture?
I am looking forward to hugging and hugging and hugging everyone that I have not been able to hug, especially my son, Miles. Kisses too. Looking forward to giving and receiving hugs and kisses. I am also looking forward to going to the theatre, to museums and art galleries, to being able to give readings of my work and to attend readings and performances by writers and artistes I admire, like the wonderful writers in New Daughters of Africa, edited by my dear friend Margaret Busby, and published by Myriad.
With thanks to Ted Chamberlain for the photo of Lorna’s desk.
The email asks, what does your bookish life look like right now and, honestly, this week has been a struggle. I lost traction on a client edit when my computer went in to the computer doc – reinforcing the fact that after only a year, I need a new one (and these manufacturers are slipping or maybe they’re doing exactly what they want by making and selling computers with a half life at best). I couldn’t focus enough to read much of anything, so I managed only a few pages (or maybe the same page over and over) of my book in progress. Faye Kellerman’s Cold Case (which I am mostly sure is a re-read). But, perhaps because writing pulls me in when I’m spiraling, I filled almost an entire notebook with words after not writing consistently for many months (beyond inch by inch edits to my short story collection in progress). I don’t know what it is yet, if anything, as I’ve had false starts before, but these characters have been doing what characters do when they mean to stick around. Fingers crossed. By the way, this happened in the week that news dropped that my book Musical Youth, a Burt award winning title, was named by Kirkus Reviews, which previously gave it a starred review, as one of the top 100 indie books they reviewed this past year, and one of its top (much shorter list) indie romances.
This blog is maintained by Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator, and author Joanne C. Hillhouse. Content is curated, researched, and written by Hillhouse, unless otherwise indicated. Do not share or re-post without credit, do not re-publish without permission and credit. Thank you.