In anticipation of Lynn’s upcoming reading this week at Waterbean Coffee in Huntersville, I interviewed Lynn to gain the inside scoop on her recently published poetry collection, “Between Two Octaves.” Her answers below greatly enhanced my understanding of these poems.
Tell me about the multiple themes in this book—hat are they and how did they develop?
Love, loss, faith, music. After Chuck (my partner) died, I turned to the music we listened to for comfort, which included the Beatles and tunes from George Harrison’s solo career. In watching the Concert for Bangladesh, as well as the ensemble tribute to Mr. Harrison by Eric Clapton and others close to him, I was drawn to the spiritual references and, over time, to Indian music, all of which prompted curiosity about George himself. I began reading biographies about him, noting the many spiritual references in them, especially Autobiography of a Yogi, which resonated deeply. Also, some of the chord progressions in Harrison’s work were mesmerizing and, to this day, stir something in me I only otherwise experience during meditation. I felt driven to create some of those sounds and began learning to play the guitar.
How do your themes work together?
Like many people, loss is no stranger to me. But it wasn’t until Chuck died that loss opened me to a greater presence in the world, to a disciplined meditation practice, which I am still learning. Meditation, certain sounds, and the writing process all take me to a hallowed place. They have become inextricably intertwined.
Talk about how music—and specifically George Harrison’s music—plays a role in your life.
Ravi Shankar, Mr. Harrison’s sitar teacher and first spiritual mentor, said, “Sound is God.” By that, I think he meant that all sound emanates from the creative breath of God, the Aum, or in Christian texts, the Amen or Holy Ghost. It makes sense, then, that sound, regardless of its origin, deeply affects us and matters to our well-being. The music I embrace generally lifts my spirits, which is not to say it is pink-cloud stuff. But I won’t listen to music that elicits ugliness in me or reinforces ways of being I’m trying to shed during meditation. In researching my book, I learned many of George Harrison’s songs were veiled tributes to God, or were in some way an expression of his own struggle to be better. I find his lyrics as inspiring as his melodies and his guitar playing. I recently had a similar reaction to a few tunes from the Avett Brothers, though I claim no direct knowledge of their faith reference points. At any rate, before writing, I often listen to music or play the guitar, thus tapping into the greater Self for inspiration.
You’ve been writing and publishing in journals for years. How did you decide what to include in this, your first collection?
What to include evolved over time. Before Chuck died, I’d been working on a collection of poems that did not, in the aggregate, tell a story. After he died, as I went more deeply inward and, later, began playing the guitar, the writing changed—a story around moving through loss by way of music and spiritual practice seemed to reveal itself. I chose for my collection poems germane to that process.
What does your next collection look like? Will it include any of the pieces not chosen for this one?
I have some poems with disparate themes—the environment, family, relating to the cosmos, etc., that are probably near ready. But the honest answer about my next collection is that I don’t know. I think the creative process works best when we’re following something larger than ourselves, however you define that. Leonard Cohen use to quote Shelley as saying, we must write down what we’re going to abandon, so I write. But I’ve invited the Universe to lead and will follow the cues wherever.
What do you want the reader to take away from reading this collection?
However much or little they need to. Loss is inevitable. Moving through it is made easier by turning to something larger within and without, whether that be faith, developing a new skill, finding a previously unknown gift, or committing to a cause we believe in. Open oneself to possibility and it will come.
To order your copy of Lynn’s poetry collection, go to Main Street Rag’s website: https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/product/between-two-octaves/.