If you peruse the 365 poems that make up the Tumblr feed from Lori Garrison’s latest poetry
project, Today, In the News, you won’t find much in the way of introspection or outpourings of feeling from individual experiences. But you may find lines that resonate, even if you aren’t really into poetry.
That was Garrison’s main goal — to write poetry that is accessible to a wide audience. She likens modern poetry to country music: much of it is personal and emotional, in the vein of my-dog-died-my-girl-left-and-I’m-sad. Knowing that readers need relevance, and knowing that thankfully not all of them find themselves in such an unfortunate position, she turned instead to the daily news for inspiration — an obvious choice given her background in journalism.
Oh, and she committed to writing and sharing publicly one poem a day for a whole year. Yet, anyone involved in a creative field knows that inspiration doesn’t show up on a schedule. This, it turns out, is the point — because deadlines do. “I tried to start this project a couple times in 2013 and it never got off the ground, but by posting online, I couldn’t cheat,” explains Garrison. “It didn’t matter how tired, hungover, or otherwise incapacitated I was, I had to write a poem.”
That practice is paying off. Thanks to an Advanced Artist Award funded by Lotteries Yukon, she is now able to devote a considerable amount of time to the fairly imposing project of editing her poems into a collection, methodically working through last year’s creations one by one.
Do they change much in the editing process? “Yes, definitely. My style changed quite a bit over the course of the year, and anyways, the original ones are all published on the web already. So the collection will include quite a bit of new material.”
She also printed some originals on canvas scrolls and sold them at a Christmas fair, ensuring their posterity. Garrison says it was also a lesson in social media and marketing, and a reminder that “someone will always hate your work”.
She got mainly positive feedback though, gaining followings in her native Ontario as well as the Yukon and some surprising pockets in Germany, France, and China.
In addition to the poetry, Garrison is working on a collection of short fiction, a medium that has been successful for her in the past, including a piece last year in Northern Public Affairs Magazine that won her an Emerging Northern Writer’s Grant.
I recommend looking up the Newer York online for one of her more hilarious pieces, entitled “SHT401: Course Syllabus for the First Ten Years of Your Adult Life”. The final poem of Today, In the News found its way online on December 31, 2014.
Her first poem-free morning? “I woke up, poured a double scotch, drank it, poured a black coffee, drank that, and went back to bed.”
Not surprisingly, Garrison’s new website can be found at beerswithhemingway.com.