On Writing

Guest Writer – An Interview with Lorraine Gane

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to work with Lorraine Gane on one of her poetry collections. It was a special experience that built a foundation for a relationship that has spanned all these years. We’ve stayed connected over email and gentle support for each other’s blossoming careers. So, when I was asked to write a blurb for Lorraine’s new poetry chapbook, I was thrilled to oblige. After reading, I also felt compelled to invite Lorraine to participate in an email interview to find out more about her process and her work in the writing community.

Here’s an excerpt of my praise for ‘Arc of Light’.

Lorraine Gane’s chapbook Arc of Light is a mirror held to Time as it touches the wings of white herons and grips the edges of the voice of death. Over the last weeks and days of her mother Mary’s life, Gane experiences the shades of grief that spread like a virus over her heart. Exemplifying both her vulnerable courage and her honest witnessing, Arc of Light delivers readers down a path of resilience at death unstoppable. Coupled with her mother’s brilliance and tender acceptance of her fate, each quoted line is like a fractal of Mary’s inner light reaching out.

It seems that Lorraine and I have been writing about the same experiences, as my forthcoming collection ‘thimbles’ grips the same heart and soul parts! Turns out she has several connections to Windsor too!

VS: How long has it been since you’ve been identifying as a ‘writer’? Can you tell us about how/when you started identifying this way? 

LG: I started writing creatively when I was thirteen. By the age of seventeen I was writing poems that were published in my high school yearbook, so I had a knowing I was a writer from an early age. I attended Carleton University for Journalism and worked as a reporter in Windsor and editor in Toronto until I was thirty-five, then I began writing poems again. I committed to poetry during the writing of my first book, Even the Slightest Touch Thunders on My Skin (Black Moss Press, 2002).

VS: Can you tell us a little bit about where you  live and write. Do you think there’s a connection between ‘home’ and ‘creativity’? 

LG: I live on Salt Spring near Victoria, B.C., which is a beautiful island of old growth forests, mountains, and lakes, a haven for deep creativity. On the twenty-acre property where I live I go for walks among the ancient cedars and firs and often see owls, eagles, deer, and other wildlife, which I weave into my poems. I feel a deep sense of connection to the natural environment here, not only for the inspiration it offers, but also for the solace it provides in such abundance. Salt Spring is also home to poets, writers, and artists of every kind and this vibrant community is a wonderful support for creativity.  

VS: Your newest book is a chapbook about your experience with your mother during her end of life. What motivated you to write about this? 

LG: I began writing about my mother in the early 2000s when I became aware that her time with us would not be long as her health began deteriorating rapidly. I started visiting her more regularly at our family home in west-end Toronto and the poems that started coming were a natural expression of my experiences with her. In the last year of my mother’s life, I spent many months with her and the poems became more frequent. It was essential to express the grief I was feeling and the poems became a container for this.

VS: Do you think there’s a healing element to writing? Be it poetry or any other genre? Do you think that there is something ‘unique’ about writing poetry whilst grieving or reflecting?

LG: The poems I wrote about my mother helped release my grief onto the page. With each poem I wrote, I felt a deeper integration of the loss of my mother, and a burgeoning renewal. During the writing of the poems, I was also connecting with the natural environment, which also helped tremendously. I also wrote some essays about grieving for my mother, which expressed the grief in a potent but different way. I began to see that the poems and essays were not just for my healing, but also for the healing of my family and community. During these times of the Covid, we are all in grieving for the loss of the way of life we once knew. The poems in Arc of Light help focus that grieving so the reader can acknowledge and release grief that may be buried or suppressed.

VS: Tell us about your role as ‘teacher’/editor. How long have you been teaching and offering your literary services? 

LG: I began teaching at Ryerson University shortly after I left my full-time job as an editor for Toronto Life magazine in 1989. At the same time, I began offering private workshops in Toronto, which I also enjoyed. When I moved to Salt Spring in 1998, I continued these workshops and also began to teach online courses so I could continue to work with my Ontario students. I now offer courses and mentor writers from around the world.

VS: When did you know you were ‘ready’ to start teaching and offering classes/workshops? 

LG: Once I began writing creatively, I felt a natural urge to share what I was learning with others.

VS: How do you define ‘success’ as a writer? Is this word part of your vocabulary at all? 

LG: Every writer has a unique path. I believe a writer is a success if he or she listens and acts on creative impulses and does her best to work with what she has been given. The publishing is secondary. That said, our writing can inspire, transform, and heal others, which completes the creative cycle.

VS: What book(s) are you reading for pleasure/education right now? 

LG: I am reading Mary Oliver’s Devotions, which I love, plus many other poetry collections and books about poetry, including Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World by Jane Hirshfield, which is essentially a master’s course in poetry writing. I am also rereading a book about haiku called Deep Breath, edited by Terry Ann Carter.

VS: What writing projects are you working on? 

LG: I am working on competing my fourth full-length collection of poetry. I am also working on another book of poems and essays, which is about witnessing what we are going through with the pandemic. This writing started in mid-March when I came across a dead fawn in a nearby field. Instead of walking by it, I was urged not to turn away so I went up to the fawn, and looked at it directly in its white and unblinking eyes. On that day Parliament shut down and lockdowns began across the country, so the dead fawn seemed to be an omen for what was to come. In addition to these projects, I am working on two books about writing.

VS: Do you think there’s a place for ‘social media’ for writers? Do you think it’s necessary in order to connect with readers?

LG: Up to this point I haven’t engaged much in social media but I sense this may change as my poems reach a larger audience. Everything helps.

VS: Do you believe there’s a connection between writing and spirituality? 

LG: My poetry and other writing arises from a connection to the creative source. When I am present, writing flows from this source in an easy and effortless way. The source is also instrumental in all the other stages of writing, from knowing which poems and pieces to continue with, to editing and sharing them. With open access to the source creativity flourishes, which is what I experience and teach. 

Thank you, Lorraine! If you’d like to learn more about Lorraine, please visit her website. www.lorrainegane.com.

Arc of Light launches virtually  November 30. Everyone is welcome to join this virtual launch!

Zoom Poetry Reading November 30, 7 p.m. (Pacific) with Lorraine Gane reading from Arc of Light. Join the zoom meeting at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88948023447

Arc of Light is published by Raven Chapbooks.

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