‘Lewington does it again, and proves why she’s one of my contemporary favorite voices. Honest observations in sparse lines that don’t shy from cynicism, sarcasm and the gritty truths that comprise day to day life.
As with many of Lewington’s chapbooks, this one is also themed, and is primarily focused on hotel room experiences.
Highly recommended!’ Nicholas Trandahl, author of Pulling Words, and Think of Me.
Hotel Life contains poems that were written whilst i was traveling, on scraps of paper that were to hand and that have now been hand made into a chapbook by CWP Collective press. There are forty poems. This is another one of my themed chapbooks, on hotel life – from the endless corridors, vending machines, and nightlife.
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Buy Will You Still Love Me if I Love Her? on Amazon
1. Tell us a little about your chapbook Will You Still Love Me if I Love Her? and the inspiration behind it?
Will You Still Love Me if I Love Her? is my first published book and I am so proud to have it out in the world! It is a retrospective look at the sapphic experiences of my youth and my inevitable queer realisation. I originally wrote it as a tool to come out to my family, hence the title, but it also addresses friends and God too.
2. What experiences or people have had a significant impact on your writing?
I am very fortunate to have had a writing buddy for literally all of my life. My friend Ebony and I were born on the same day, in the same hospital, and have grown up together. We are both very creative and it has been really inspiring to have someone so talented and passionate close to me. I genuinely don’t know what I would be doing without her support. There are also a lot of incredible people in the writing community on Twitter who have inspired and encouraged me so much! Imani Campbell, Juliette Sebock, and Lenee H all have such distinct voices and reading their work is a delight. There are so many amazing writers in this world! As for experiences, they mainly seem to be negative ones — experiences that I need to process, confront, and reflect upon. Writing can be very therapeutic.
3. Since you started to write how do you feel you have changed, and your writing developed?
I started writing when I was in a depressed state and it really helped me to understand what I was feeling and gave me a chance to express those emotions in a safe way. It is emotional looking back on poems and seeing how my perception of the world has changed over this past year and how my mental state has improved. I also became very interested in poetry in general and read as much as I could – especially from online literary journals – and my understanding of language and style has made me a lot more self-critical. I want to put out my best work, the poems that I am really proud of.
4. Which period of your life do you write about most often?
A lot of my poems in Will You Still Love Me if I Love Her? were about my teenage years and crushes on girls that I developed but refused to acknowledge, and subsequently by late teens and early twenties when I was involved in serious relationships and finally realising my queer identity. Now, I tend to write about recent experiences as a way to process them as I go through them.
5. What did you edit out of your book?
With a chapbook, you have to be very selective with which and how many poems you include. I wanted to create a narrative that readers would be able to follow while staying true to my own perception of events and the order they happened. Some poems were removed because they confused that narrative, and other poems were taken out because I didn’t feel like they were strong enough. All of my beta readers suggested changing the order of the poems and I think that made the collection so much better.
6. How many hours a day do you write?
It changes every day! I usually begin each day journalling and then turn some of those thoughts into poems. Sometimes a poem takes a minute, sometimes I agonise over it for week.
7. In terms of receiving feedback for your writing who or what do you use for a sounding board?
I have been very fortunate to make connections on Twitter with some truly talented writers and editors, so I send my poems and manuscripts to them for their opinions. Poetry is very subjective so I get a mix of responses. I think it’s important to go with your gut but feedback is definitely helpful.
8. What are the aspects of writing that you find challenging?
A lot of my writing surrounds my own experiences, mostly to do with traumatic events, so I have found it difficult to decide what to put out into the world and how to word things so that certain individuals can’t be identified, in respect for them and myself. It is also really difficult sometimes to figure out if a poem is done or not. You can keep tweaking and tweaking forever but at some point you have to let it go.
9. Other than your writing, what else occupies your time?
I have recently gotten back into playing the piano! I started around ten years ago but stopped due to anxiety. It feels really good to be back sat at those black and whites keys that I loved so much! I also love wandering through nature and taking photographs.
Thank you so much for this interview! I have really enjoyed it!
Blank Space is a book similar to my own The Blank Page, in that Beth Bacon and I both explore the space in a book and its many possibilities. Blank Space follows the narration of a young child, encouraged to fill their journal in school, but struggles; the idea that the blank page does not necessarily need to be filled. It is a space to find rest. Blank Space uses its format very well. Using clear language, and colourful illustrations, whilst Blank Space is aimed at middle grade readers, I think there’s lots of appeal for older readers too.
Table for One is a collection of poetry on love, and giving yourself to someone so fully that you neglect your own needs ‘I have come to learn that the more you allow people to eat at your table for one, the more you’ll starve and never survive’ the book begins with a couple of poems where love between narrator and this person develops. From there the narrator writes from a place of perspective, and lessons she learnt for the reader to take away. The narrator gives their thoughts from love on beauty, her own voice and strength, ‘her heart became lighter her confidence became stronger and she only had to do one thing she had to say NO’ The narrator uses a dining experience theme, to centre the poems chiming the emotions of pain, regret, anger. This is prose as much as it is poetry too. The poetry stuck to a rhyming form, but I felt that made some of the poems too rigid.
I enjoyed reading the thoughts of Miranda Russell in Searching for the Truth. Subjects covered were of of beliefs, forgiveness, injustice, nature, death, religion, our own personal journeys, amongst many more. Subjects I’m sure we have all had our thoughts on at some point, Maranda Russell has struck on universal truths. Life Without Art was a fantastic poem, posing the question what would life be without art? And the line ‘what would give us the courage to wake up each morning and face this dull, mediocre life?’ made me push a triumphant fist in the air. Seeking Truth was another such poem that I agreed with. As was Where you Should Be. Poems which give thought, or comfort. Searching for the Truth was a book I enjoyed immensely. Mildew ‘Doubt is its own kind of mildew. You scrub and scrub to make it leave, only to turn your back –’
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the scenic view as i walk through layers upon layers of small happenings
of joggers a train speeding by the sparkle of dew on grass crooked rubbish sacks beside the bins
an empty park with ghosts of children past
i rejoice in the days that begin when winter ends
when i wake and behind the curtains the sunshine is waiting for me
the grey, miserable days can be forgotten replaced by hope, possibilities that don’t look so impossible
showered, and dressed i walk, out into the park where the trees wave at me and twigs snap underneath my feet
further into wooded areas it is like i am alone, with a different kind of magic the hum of the road is almost inaudible
it feels i could walk forever releasing my worries
in curiosities of nature – discarded eggs, feathers, and a pair of mittens dangling on a low hanging branch from the tree
in the event the person who lost the pair may return for them
how separate we can become
lost from what we hold dear
relying on a stranger to take notice and help us find our lost belongings again
NOTES The sun was out over the Bank Holiday weekend and, as it goes, suddenly everyone in the country appeared to be a lot happier. I actually wrote this poem a couple of months ago and just added a few details when I edited it a few days ago. I’m not happy with the ending of the poem, but it did leave me stumped. I imagine something will come to me eventually though.