Interview with Gary Lemons

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Interview with Gary Lemons

Affaire de Coeur's

November Calendar Feature


Gary Lemons received an Undergraduate degree in Poetry from the U of Iowa in 1973.  He fished for many years in Bristol Bay (Bristol Bay & Other Poems—Red Hen Press) and worked as a tree planter re-foresting clear-cuts all over the Pacific Northwest.  He has seven books of poetry in print with two more scheduled. He’s a yogi, and currently teaches gentle yoga with his wife at their studio in Port Townsend, WA—Tenderpaws.

 When did you start writing? 

Fifty years ago when I heard The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock read out loud—“I will show you fear/In a handful of dust”—as a teenager I resonated with that—I wanted my feelings and fears about the world to set out into the unknown on the good ship of poetry.


What have you learned about writing since you started?

That there is nothing more worthy than searching for your true voice—the one that lets you know—beneath all the noise—what is right and what is wrong and which way to go—poetry helps that voice become audible while simultaneously clarifying the path ahead.


Tell us about your new book or series. 

My new book is #3 in the Snake Quartet called the Hunger Sutras—it follows the collective voice of all life on planet Earth that has been rinsed, if you will, away by Earth’s need to cleanse itself to survive—it attributes an intelligence to the planet’s actions—through the character of Snake, as he/she wanders the post- apocalyptic landscape, we hear the poems/voices of everything that’s disappeared--Snake is the remnant throat for all that is gone.


What is your idea of a perfect writing day?

Everyday—really—what is better than coffee and an empty page?


How/where do you get your plot ideas?

From dreams—from headlines—from meditation and yoga—from conversations with friends and strangers—from how all of that somehow merges into the imagery released when one listens inwardly.


What is the most difficult thing about creating and developing characters? 

Allowing them to speak without violating their right to an opinion different from my own.


What is your favorite thing about being an author?

Living in the interior world of the spirit/body/heart connection as it manifests into language—seeing things through those eyes instead of the eyes weary of what is currently visible—the sense of hope that comes from knowing we as human beings are at the very beginning of our evolution and not the end—and of course the friendship with others on this journey.


How many books do you currently have out on the market and what genres do they fall into?

Seven currently with two more scheduled for publication in the next three years.  The Quartet is a post-apocalyptic look at how the end game came to be and how it played out and what remains after embodied presence is gone from the planet.  And it presumes a time when new life begins again without the seeds of its own destruction built into the design.  Dia de los Muertos is a journaloge of my early days living and traveling in Mexico and especially time spent in and around Oaxaca during the Day of the Dead celebration.  The other books are more personal narratives—all of my books I hope have at their heart an attention to the music of speech and reverence for dreams.


Will you be attending any book signings or conventions? 

Yes—I will be at AWP in Portland, Oregon in March reading off-site and signing at the Red Hen booth.  I will also be signing at the book launch for the Hunger Sutras on November 3rd at the Writers’ Workshoppe in Port Townsend, WA.


Pass on some words of wisdom, please, to aspiring authors.

Write every day—even if you don’t want to—sometimes the best work comes from resisting your own impulses.  Understand that editing is where the poem really hides.  The first draft is just a rough-hewn shape—through editing the poem is revealed.