The Lake Michigan Mermaid is a finalist in this prestigious national contest given for superior cover artwork by the Eric Hoffer Book Awards for the following prize: “2019’s The da Vinci Eye Award”.
Linda Nemec Foster was recently interviewed on a episode of WYCE’s Electric Poetry hosted by Kelsey May Fraser, which aired on 9/11/18.
To listen to the full interview, click on the play button below or click here to visit WYCE’s website.
Linda Nemec Foster’s essay is featured on the website, Write Across Chicago, which is sponsored by the Illinois Writing Project based at Northeastern Illinois University. A member of the Society of Midland Authors, Linda is the only non-Illinois resident featured on the website.
WHY I WRITE – by Linda Nemec Foster
By Linda Nemec Foster
I write because I want to connect with others. I’m primarily a poet and I love poetry for the powerful way it uses language and the blankness around line breaks and stanzas to reflect metaphor, imagery, tone, rhythm, and pacing. Poetry is the only kind of writing where what you don’t say (think of all that white space on the page that surrounds a poem) is as important as what you do say (the language that encompasses each line). And when a poem is read out loud–connecting it to that ancient oral tradition that was the precursor to all written literature–the process is complete.
I also write flash fiction and prose poems that balance the tone between narrative and lyric voices. I like to work with this dichotomy: it’s an ambitious exercise but when the piece can achieve that balance between a narrative arc and strong lyricism, it’s nothing short of magic.
When I’m starting a new poem, I’ll write the first drafts in longhand on a yellow legal pad or a standard notebook. On average, this process of early drafting can result in five to ten rough drafts; that is, every poem I create begins in drafts of at least five to ten versions. After I determine that the piece has achieved a decent structure of form and content, I take the most recent draft and type it on the computer. The revision process continues as I see how the structure evolves as a typed piece. This is particularly essential for poetry as line breaks, stanzas, and section breaks are readily formatted on the computer screen. Currently, a lot of poets and writers prefer to compose directly on the computer but I’m “old school.” I love to feel the paper, to hold the pen, to cross out words and add lines. It’s a tactile and visceral experience for me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know the computer is essential for final revisions but that initial creative spark–the first drafts–are always handwritten.
My work of being a poet, a writer, and now (after eleven published poetry collections) an author has enriched my life in ways that are inestimable. True, there is no money in poetry. But the intangible rewards are gratifying and humbling. The most amazing situation I experienced as a writer was when I received an email from a person I never met. This woman had purchased one of my poetry books–a collection of haiku and visual art–that was a quiet meditation on nature and our place in the natural world. Every day she would read excerpts from the book to her friend who was in the advanced stages of terminal cancer. The poetry gave both of them a sense of peace and serenity as one life ended and one life carried on. No award or recognition could match the significance of those words from that stranger.
Linda Nemec Foster is a poet, writer, literary presenter, and founder of the Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College. She is the author of eleven collections of poetry including The Lake Michigan Mermaid (with Anne-Marie Oomen), Talking Diamonds, Amber Necklace from Gdańsk, Listen to the Landscape, and Living in the Fire Nest.
Below is an excerpt from the Poetry Foundation’s Website:
Linda Nemec Foster is the author of 11 collections of poetry, including The Lake Michigan Mermaid (Wayne State University Press, 2018), coauthored with Anne-Marie Oomen; Talking Diamonds (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2009); and Amber Necklace from Gdańsk (Louisiana State University Press, 2001). Her work has been published in anthologies, magazines, and journals, including the Georgia Review, Nimrod, Quarterly West, Witness, New American Writing, North American Review, and Verse Daily. Her poems have been translated into European languages, have inspired original musical compositions, and have been produced for the stage.
Linda’s new book, The Lake Michigan Mermaid, is reviewed in NewPages which is a major online source for book reviews, publishing, and the literary world.
The Lake Michigan Mermaid, co-authored by Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen, is selected as one of the top ten books by Michigan authors for Summer, 2018.
Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen were featured in the “Authors Next Door” segment of the National Writers Series (NWS) about their book, “The Lake Michigan Mermaid“.
Below is a short excerpt of the NWS’s article:
Mermaids don’t exist. It’s a dull, disheartening truth that we all probably accepted in childhood, despite Disney’s best efforts. But what if they did? Seated next to each other at a reading of Alison Swan’s Fresh Water anthology more than a decade ago, local authors Anne-Marie Oomen and Linda Nemec Foster found themselves asking this very question. Ten-odd years, countless emails, and one fateful weekend together in a motel on Lake Michigan later, their debut collaborative, The Lake Michigan Mermaid, is no longer just an exciting “what if”: as of this past March, it’s bound in hardcover.
At the surface, the book tells the story of Lyk — Lykretia, a name from Oomen’s imagination, meaning “joy” — an only child living on the shores of Lake Michigan, and the connection she develops with the mermaid who shares her beach. But the story itself isn’t the first thing we notice; in fact, we don’t really discover the storyline until we’re three or four pages in. This is because the book is structured as an expertly interwoven series of poems. According to Oomen, the call-and-response structure of the book was something the two women sought from the start: “Driving home from Saugatuck that night, I called [Foster], and said, “I think we should do something with this mermaid idea. I think there’s something there.” The first thing Linda said to me was, “I want to be the mermaid!” My poems often have a narrative impulse; [Linda’s] are very lyric. I was almost from the beginning seeking some kind of very loose storyline. So right away, there were two voices, and we would be personas, not ourselves. We agreed quickly that we’d write very small, back-and-forth pieces month to month, from time to time, and we both agreed we’d keep it a secret……”
~ (National Writers Series, 2018)