We got a chance to catch up with past contributor Allison Thorpe! (You can read her poems “The Last Time My Mother Baked Bread” and “Resolution” in our Winter 2017 collection ebook, available for purchase here.) Her latest book The Shepherds of Tenth Avenue is available for preorder through Finishing Line Press. Find out what inspires Allison, her advice for women writers, and more!
What inspires you the most?
I lived in rural Kentucky for many years, and nature was my constant inspiration. When I moved to Lexington, I found motivation in the tremendous creative energy all around me: the artists at the museum across the street, two bookstores (Brier Books and The Wild Fig) who continually hold readings and workshops, the woman who draws mandalas on the sidewalk, the colorful book benches from the Carnegie Center, the Buddha Babes, and all my writing groups. Lexington is a dynamic center of literary pursuits and encouragement.
I’m all over the board, and my catalog of women writers grows every day. I do tend to gravitate toward Kentucky/Appalachian writers like Crystal Wilkerson, Ada Limon, Rebecca Gayle Howell, Jan Sparkman, and so many others. I’m involved with the Kentucky Women Writers Conference (the longest running literary festival of women in the nation and held in Lexington each September) which offers amazing women authors in a variety of genres. I come away with armloads of books and more new favorites. Currently, I am reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh which is beautifully disturbing. I support women writers and am heartened by the variety of voices and stories.
Being retired, I have the joy of writing every day. I often have several projects going and see where my keyboard takes me when I sit down. I’m someone who gets ideas when I should be sleeping, so I always have pen and paper close at hand. That drowsy state just before or upon waking is a gold mine for me. I can’t tell you how many poems have been born in those moments. June is Lexington Poetry Month, and Accents Publishing challenges writers to post a poem a day. It’s fun and exciting to read and respond to the work of others. I love the chain reactions that arise.
Support each other! Go to readings. Buy books. Open those doors that allow women a voice. I am a great believer in finding a writing partner or a writing group that will support and critique work. Even joining a book club can be insightful to one’s own poetry. Feedback is vital and necessary. I am also a great believer in revision, something I preached to my students over the decades. Revision is a good place to experiment with voice, with point of view, with language.