An Interview with Lisa Drnec Kerr


Lisa Drnec Kerr is an assistant professor of English at Western New England University. She has published poetry in a variety of journals including: Green Mountains Review, English, Cold Mountain Review, Oxford Magazine, Kalliope, and others. Her manuscript Sky Lake Crossing received honorable mention for the 2011 May Sarton Prize for poetry. Her poem WALKING HORSES was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in western Massachusetts. Lisa was recently interviewed by Cheryl Malandrinos.

Why did you become a writer?

Did I become a writer? I know I became a mother (I remember that very keenly). I know I became a teacher, a dairy goat farmer, and a knitter, but a writer? I think writing stole me like a thief when I was very young and most unaware, and like a wild child, I’ve been practicing my own thievery ever since. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I write by accident.   My work is (now) full of intentionality, and I write for many reasons. I love the fluid sense of self that gets played out in the writing process. Each new project takes me through the whole of human psycho-social development.  I am neophyte, intern, attending physician, and specialist. Then I am neophyte all over again. I love being caught up in a rhetorical situation of my own making, and I love reading beautiful books.  Beautiful books make me want to be a writer.

What is the most rewarding part of being a writer? The most frustrating?

When someone “gets it,” when an email drops into my box from someone I don’t know saying, “Hey, I read x and y and thought Z!” — that’s a crazy payoff.  Once a high school teacher contacted me about using some of my poetry in his Midwestern classroom. I was elated and humbled to have one such reader, much less his 120 young students. (For crying out loud, he had 120 students!) Still, the steady, everyday payoff comes from what writing does for me personally.  Writing planes the day; it makes me into someone I might recognize in the window.

Frustration is almost always a function of loose perceptions on my part. Frequently (2 or more times per week), I lambast myself for slow progress on certain projects.  It is frustrating to be constantly squirreling away writing or revision moments.  I ask myself, why can’t I do this “for real”? Why can’t I quit the time drains and work full-time on my writing? But when I stop for a moment and think clearly, I realize that I am working on my writing full-time. The other major considerations in my life, those things that draw me away from the act of writing (family and students) actually provide the substrate for everything I write. It’s at those moments that I realize I am always writing.  I’m just not always working with computer screens or pencils.

Can you tell us about your latest release?

My latest “releases” are poems published in journals and magazines: Cold Mountain Review (forthcoming), Chronogram, and Naugatuck River Review. My manuscript, A Sky Lake Crossing, was named a finalist for the May Sarton Prize (Bauhan Press).

What inspired it?

A Sky Lake Crossing is a response to the geographies of childhood and the competing narratives that invariably grow out of a reminiscent perspective.

You’re sitting on the Revision Panel at this year’s WriteAngles Conference. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re planning?

I am planning to talk about the often forgotten aspects of revision! How’s that for being intentionally vague!

What are you working on now?

I am working on a manuscript tentatively titled, Blue Sky Science. Plus, I am 75 % through a multi-genre text about Parkinson’s disease.

Where can we find you online?

Facebook, Google+, Tumblr

Is there anything you would like to add?

I am very happy to participate in the WriteAngles conference!

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