From a Newtown Literary contributor: Lisa Conway
Writer Lisa Conway’s work was featured in issue #15 of Newtown Literary. Below, she photographs her workspace and tells us about finding inspiration in her surroundings.
I work wherever I go. For me it’s not so much a particular space, but a particular state of mind or being that makes the poems come. Sometimes I have to pull over while driving so the ideas won’t disappear or use the waterproof notepad in the shower that was a gift from my husband. I imagine great painters walking by their works in progress and every now and then dabbing just the tiniest bit of paint that no one else would notice at first glance. I can be this way with poems. Sometimes revision is an overhaul and other times it’s just a comma or a single word. But it’s always a lot of sitting and waiting.
The picture of one of my workspaces is in my kitchen. I visited the Alice Austen museum last summer. It is Austen’s restored residence, and there is a small conservatory off of the parlor. The climbing plants and sunlight inspired me to claim my kitchen bay window as a sometimes workspace for myself, with my back turned against the clattering demands of sink and stove. I gather words, phrases, and ideas every day. I use my Notes app, my composition notebook, and computer for the gathering. Crafting the poems is another matter. For that I often need, and rarely have, immersion. Complete focus and quiet. This is hard to come by with three kids and a partner. Sometimes I give up a night of sleep for it, other times I allow the pressure of time condensed to write poetry synapse-style, then let the poems sit like sourdough starter.
The image of this sign outside the elevator door of my apartment was the primary inspiration for my poem “in case of upbringing, use words.” It’s odd. I remember life before I was literate. I remember the strange out-of-focus experience of looking at words and not understanding them, and then what it was like to slowly read my building and neighborhood and borough, my life and my world. I had to reimagine the shops of my childhood, the places we went on foot, by bus, or by car.
The other two poems, well, they are born of love and grief. I don’t know if there is anything else I could say about them without having to stop to write another poem. Or if there is anything to say about love and grief that isn’t already a poem. Or that you or anyone else doesn’t know.