Catching Up with Lindsay Lusby

Where can we read some of your recent work? 

My first full-length poetry collection came out this time last year! Catechesis: a postpastoral was chosen by Kimiko Hahn for the 2018 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize and was published by the University of Utah Press in 2019. It is a compilation of fairy-tale and horror-movie poems alongside a series of collage-style visual poems that combine wildflowers and anatomy into new Franken-flora.

In the last year, I’ve had a few new poems published in Gulf Coast, Birdcoat Quarterly, Plume, and New South. I’ve got a few more forthcoming in Puerto del Sol and Construction. And my first-ever lyric essay—“You Never Think It Could Happen To You: A Reckoning with True Crime”—will be in the upcoming Fall 2020 issue of Waxwing. So check back soon!    

What are you reading right now?

I haven’t read nearly as much as I would have liked over the past several months, but here are couple of my favorite summer books:

Rare Wondrous Things: A Poetic Biography of Maria Sibylla Merian, by Alyse Bensel (Green Writers Press, 2020).

These gorgeous poems seamlessly weave together ekphrasis and lyric biography so that historical woman, insect, and plant life become one mythic creature, metamorphosed by art and obsession. There’s a sense of divine wonder at the wide-eyed beautiful and the grotesque alike, but it’s coupled with an awareness of the mortality and fragility of all things. What’s the inverse of pathetic fallacy? The same way Bensel infuses humanity into her moths, caterpillars, and pupae, she also allows their creature qualities to animate her Maria. These poems are full of so many delicious details reimagined from historical accounts and lush naturalist illustrations.

sensorium, by Emily Corwin (University of Akron Press, 2020).

I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that my deep love of horror movies is inexplicably linked with my anxiety disorder, so these poems felt so true and real to me. Corwin braids these incredible persona poems through the collection that embody so many of our favorite horror heroines (classic and newer) and she calls each of these an “outburst.” This whole book is an atmospheric outburst humming with melodic description and final-girl adrenaline—the kind of fever that lets you know you’re still alive, as long as you can keep ahead of whatever is chasing you.

This spring, I read and loved Kathryn Nuernberger’s new collection, Rue (which also has a fantastic Maria Sibylla Merian poem in it!), and Kimiko Hahn’s newest book, Foreign Bodies. I’ve also been making my way slowly through Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory, by Stacy Horn. Last summer I visited the Rhine Research Center (formerly known as the Duke Parapsychology Lab), so I’ve been continuing this research that will hopefully turn into future poems.    

What’s next for you?

That always feels like such a big, looming question, but even more so right now when everything feels so up in the air! After struggling with years of job burnout, I left my position at my always-beloved Rose O’Neill Literary House to pursue full-time freelancing. I’m doing poetry editing, manuscript consultations, content writing, poetry coaching, and even some graphic design work with both poetry broadsides and promotional materials. So far, it has been such fun and fulfilling work, although I can’t say it keeps me any less busy. I’m still moving toward that elusive sense of work-life balance, but it feels a little closer—at least, more within my control. I feel a bit more hopeful than I used to.

I’m writing new poems as often as I can, although that has been even less often than usual while I’m still getting my freelancing feet under me. I have begun to see a new manuscript taking shape, so I’m excited to keep building on that. So far, this new poetry collection-in-progress includes poems of the paranormal, fairy tale, women’s bodies, ghosts, and true crime. These poems grapple with encounters and narratives that compel us to prove their truth, but that, by their nature, require a leap of logic or belief to make their case.

I’m also hoping to write more lyric essays! It was so exhilarating writing the first one. And it’s so much like writing poetry, except where I would normally hold back in a poem, the essay allows me space to be more expansive, following those lyric tangents wherever they lead.    

BIO:

Lindsay Lusby’s debut poetry collection Catechesis: a postpastoral (2019) won the 2018 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize from The University of Utah Press. The author of two previous chapbooks, her poems have appeared most recently in New South, Gulf Coast, The Cincinnati Review, Passages North, and Plume. More at www.lindsaylusby.com.

I’m on both Twitter and Instagram at the handle: @lindsaylusby. My Facebook is: https://www.facebook.com/lindsay.lusby.