We're honored to feature poems by Shirley Jones-Luke in Issue One of Orson's Review. We're also very fortunate for the time Shirley took to sit down and chat with us about her journey as a poet.
*The following interview involves Orson's Publishing (OP) and Shirley Jones-Luke (SJL).
OP: How did your journey with the written word begin?
SJL: I've been writing since childhood. I was an avid reader as a young girl and my interest in books led to an interest in writing my own stories.
OP: Is poetry writing your only occupation?
SJL: No. I'm also a memoirist. I'm working on a memoir about my childhood. I'm also dabbling in fiction. I'm a teacher with the Boston Public Schools.
OP: What served as inspiration for "Mothra is like the Spring"? What about "Lotus Eaters Worship at the Altar of Bliss"?
SJL: For "Mothra", I am a movie monster fan. I love Japanese monsters - Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra. I decided to write a poem focusing on my love of those movies. As for "Lotus Eaters", I am also a huge fan of Greek and Roman mythology. I taught The Odyssey and loved the story about the Lotus Eaters.
OP: Tell us about your writing process. Do you approach all pieces of writing in the same way?
SJL: My writing process for poetry is just to write what enters my mind. Every poem is treated differently. I approach some poems by way of my environment, my work in education or what I read. I read a lot of poetry to better understand craft and form. When a poem grabs me, I often write in response to the original poem.
OP: What did you want to be when you grew up? How has that impacted your writing?
SJL: I wanted to be a journalist. I was intrigued by reporters and broadcasters on tv. I wanted to travel the globe, meet people and write. I still do. I've always wrote and that has stayed with me despite focusing more on manuscripts.
OP: Tell us about the biggest sacrifice you’ve made while pursuing writing.
OP: How many books do you read in a year?
SJL: 20 - 30.
OP: Do you attend poetry readings? If so, tell us about the best one you’ve ever attended -- what made it so good?
SJL: Yes. I do attend poetry readings. I attended one by Morgan Parker. Her poetry book was based on Beyonce. Ms. Parker was funny, engaging and approachable. She inspired me.
OP: What do you want most out of your literary community?
SJL: In my community, there isn't a central place to develop literary pursuits. I'd love create such a place.
OP: Do you believe that an MFA is crucial to success as a writer today?
SJL: I have an MFA and it does help with connecting with like minded writers, professors and resources. But I feel that going to writing centers may be more cost effective.
OP: What do you cross your fingers for as a poet?
SJL: I would love to be accepted to Cave Canem and/or Breadloaf Conference. Those are my dream conferences. Plus, having my poetry manuscript published.
OP: Where do you see your journey with the written word going?
SJL: A published book of poetry. A memoir. A YA novel. Getting paid to write and travel. Leaving teaching behind and writing full-time.
Ms. Luke lives and works in Boston, Mass. She has an MFA from Emerson College. In 2016, Shirley was a Watering Hole Poetry Fellow. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines.
Be sure to check out Shirley Jones-Luke's poems in Issue One of Orson's Review.