In Conversation with Lyn Patterson: Finding Time to Renew One's Passion
In this One + One interview, curator and writer Veronica Elizabeth Thomas speaks to Lyn Patterson, traveling poet, on her new poetry book Whisperings of the Wild and Wilting.
VET: Congratulations on Whisperings of the Wild and Wilting! What inspired the title?
LP: As a thirty year old woman and finally sharing my work with others, I was done with whispering. I was done trying to silence myself and my feelings and not being able to be vulnerable. The title is almost a way for me to pay homage to the idea of being one’s true self and owning your power.
I just wanted to give voice to those emotions. How do I be this new woman, stepping into a new life. How do I keep evolving while staying true to myself and my emotions but still resurface feeling powerful? Those are the questions that inspired to title.
VET: I read that last year in March was the first time you shared your poetry with anyone. What was it like to open yourself up to the public?
LP: With poetry you’re taking your own internal thoughts and sharing them with the world and there’s a deep sense of vulnerability that goes along with that. I started sharing after I had gone through a heartbreak. I had a lot of complicated thoughts that I was nervous to share with the people close to me. And around that time I was writing a lot of poetry again, so I just thought, “let me make this anonymous Instagram”, and I began posting my feelings.
I never expected anyone to like it or find it (laughs). I just needed an outlet to express myself. Then people began reaching out to me about how my poetry had resonated with them, or even gave them a better understanding of their emotions. I just started to think differently about why I was sharing, and I made the decision to stop being anonymous and start engaging with people as an artist. From there it’s just snowballed into publishing and a book and it’s so exciting to see where I am today as compared to last year.
VET: How do you find a balance between working, traveling, and still finding the time to write?
LP: I do travel a lot (laughs). I think that travelling has always been therapeutic for me because I’ve always loved the idea of going somewhere and immersing yourself in the culture of a place. It’s a way to clarify your own values and ideas about life and understanding what you really value versus what you’ve grown up around.
I think that this all really breathes self-reflection that’s necessary for writing. So I actually find that when I’m travelling is when I’m writing the most because I’m experiencing new things, and seeing new people and that all comes out in my poetry.
VET: When you write, do you repeat any rituals or processes that fuel your creativity?
LP: I definitely prefer to put pen to paper first. Any immediate feelings, I try to write them down as soon as possible. From the page, they’ll enter my phone as a note. And from there it travels to my computer and that just forces me to look at it several times before I enter the editing process.
We talk about writer’s block, but I don’t believe in that. I think that we just need to take pause and be present in our lives. If the words or ideas aren’t coming to me, I’ll take a step back and go out and experience more.
"I think that travelling has always been therapeutic for me because I’ve always loved the idea of going somewhere and immersing yourself in the culture of a place. It’s a way to clarify your own values and ideas about life and understanding what you really value versus what you’ve grown up around."
VET: What, if any, writers have inspired your own writing?
LP: Audre Lorde is my all time favorite poet, hands-down. I just love her activism, it’s so inspiring. And her writing is phenomenal! Because she’s a Black activist, people often think her writing is always aligned with her activism, but she’s an incredible writer in terms of her formatting, structure, and literary device, and people often overlook that.
Roxane Gay is also a favorite! She’s not a poet, but I love her book Difficult Woman. As a writer, I was astounded that she could tap into the souls of people. Also, Yrsa Daley-Ward. She’s a very complicated and complex person in terms of how she sees identity, sexuality, and gender, and it caused me to look into myself as a writer. It caused me to think about putting my own work out there. She doesn’t take shit from anyone, and I aspire to be like that (laughs).
VET: Do you have any advice for others beginning their writing journey?
LP: Don’t feel like you need to do what everyone else is doing! You bring a unique perspective and a unique voice. When you’re putting your work out there and you see other people being successful, you might feel you should be doing that. But remember your uniqueness will draw attention to your work
Also, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You don’t need to push out the most polish version of yourself. People appreciate vulnerability so don’t be afraid to let them in.
Out Now!: Whisperings of the Wild and Wilting