Review - Rainbow's Orange Book of Poetry
This second in Lily Lawson's Rainbow series of books of poetry follows nicely on from Red, which explored a range of emotions and feelings.
As Lily states in the introduction to this pamphlet, Orange is about passion. Passion for writing and passion in love. The two things intermingle throughout her writing, linking this series of poems together to make a small but beautiful thing, this should definitely be on your Christmas list this year.
I asked Lily some probing questions about Orange and her views on poetry today. She has very kindly come back with some incredible answers that I found myself nodding in agreement with. Please see below:
You say in the introduction of your book
that your two loves are music and poetry. Do you play an instrument, and have
you considered writing lyrics? If so, how different is writing lyrics to
I tried to play the guitar a couple of times. I have also messed about on pianos. I’d love to learn how to play properly.
I have written some pretty bad lyrics and some of my poems came to me as songs. As I can’t play an instrument or do musical notation, I record the songs on my phone. I also compose new tunes to familiar lyrics but again they are just in my head or sound recordings with me singing a cappella.
The rhythm can be different when writing song lyrics. In music we can ascribe more than one note to syllables. Also there can be instrumental interludes that need to be considered.
In performance poetry delivery comes into play, emphasis might be used to encourage audience reaction. In both performance poetry and singing, breathing is part of the rhythm and emphasis may be placed differently. Movement may be added. Reading a poem to an audience that wasn’t written for performance is not the same experience.
2. I have recently been reading Liz Berry’s poetry who is from the Black Country and writes in her own dialect. As a Northerner, have you ever considered writing in your own dialect?
It’s not something I have ever thought about. I have written poems about events in my local area. I may do more of those in the future.
3. In your introduction you say orange is for passion and I see the poems within this pamphlet explore this, particularly your passion for poetry and words, can you tell me more about that?
I love words. I enjoy sharing them daily on social media. I get two word of the day emails and I play four word games every day. When I was younger, I used to play scrabble by myself and challenge myself to beat my highest score.
I took a class on the origins of English as part of my access course years ago. I am currently studying Worlds of English as part of my Open University degree.
I love to write poetry and sharing poems on Instagram. I do write other things as well, but poetry is the first thing I wrote and my default. If it wasn’t for prompts, I am not sure I would have ever written stories.
I read more poetry now than I used to and I think that started with the Insta poets and other poetry I’ve read on social media. I too was put off by the language and difficulty of interpretation, the way a lot of poetry didn’t speak to me.
Some of my readers are avid fans of poetry. In some cases, I am learning from them. As an eternal student that makes me happy.
4. In your poem ‘Poetry is Alive,’ you say:
I must insist
we put to bed
the thought of
poetry being dead.
Can you talk about where this idea came from? Do you feel that poetry is on the decline and needs promoting?
There is a hashtag on Instagram ‘poetry is not dead.’ I think people can sometimes be unaware that modern day poets exist. In most ‘name a poet’ conversations people go back to the ones they studied at school who are often dead.
It wasn’t till I was first published in anthologies back in the 90’s that I discovered there were a lot of ordinary people like me writing poetry. I met my first fellow poet in 2019 via social media. Later that year I found out that I could self-publish a book of poetry.
I am often told that ‘I don’t like poetry, but I like yours.’ That’s why I call myself the non-poetry lovers’ poet.
Traditionally published poetry by an ordinary person (rather than a famous poet) seems rare. Poetry is language, and language is an evolving thing. As long as humans exist creativity will too.
The concept of poetry itself is changing. I’m not sure sometimes if people realise what they read on social media is poetry. I have had conversations to that effect.
I was asked once if a particular thing I had written was poetry. The reply came back if you label it poetry that is what it is.
5. Throughout your collection your poetry examines love and poetry, and you talk about how the ‘soul carries the poets voice.’ Do you think that poetry is part of what makes up a person?
Yes, I do. I think Poets see the world and life differently.
Writers see characters, worlds, motivation, and story arcs. If a writer is inspired by a person on the bus, they are creating a whole story round them. A poet will write something about the journey or some aspect of the person and maybe reference it to the wider world or what this particular moment can teach us. It is more open to interpretation. Sometimes when I get feedback, I think I never saw it like that before.
Poetry can be a story, but it comes
from a thought or a feeling. It can be a moment. Often there’s no named
character, no lead up and sometimes no resolution.
I’ve been told my poetry has my touch. I haven’t tested if people know it’s mine without my name on it. 4 poetry books in (7 in total) I am given the impression people know what to expect from me to some extent.
6. In your poem ‘Please Let me Rhyme,’ I get the impression that you are commenting on the more literary non-rhyming prose and free verse poems that seem more popular now. Do you think rhyming poetry has gone out of fashion and is seen as somehow less when it comes to writing poetry these days?
There seems to be a view that rhyming
is a sign of immaturity, possibly due to it being used in children’s books or
for comedic value.
At the other end of the line lives form poetry which often rhymes in a particular rhythm. It may be considered old fashioned and outdated given the rise of Insta poetry which I cannot criticise as I write that myself.
The poets I studied in school wrote form poetry in the language of their day which gives weight to the argument. Having attempted various poetic forms I recognise it takes a lot of work to craft a form poem.
We are time poor, and our attention span is shrinking. We are also used to instant communication. We want to understand poetry straight away not debate it into the night. The poetry I share on Instagram tends to be of the moment and more or less first drafts. The ones that make it into my books are often edited versions.
I used to think that if you worked hard, you might one day be considered good enough to be awarded the label Poet. I have come to the realisation that anyone can be a poet, anyone can publish poetry online or in books. It’s up to each poet to decide what constitutes poetry for them.
7. In, ‘I Crave My Fix,’ you comment on someone else’s writing as if it is an addiction. Do you think reading other people’s work helps you to become a better writer?
I find reading other people's work extremely helpful. We all have our favourite authors.
Other writers can inspire me to write. It can also help me see what works and what doesn’t. I think about what draws me in and what leads me away from the story.
When I read fiction, I try and keep my editing brain turned off. If it turns on and the work is unpublished, given I know the author, I tell them. If it’s published it depends how bad it is. There are some authors I can no longer read because of the amount of times my editor brain turns on when I read their published work. There are some authors I make allowances for as my appreciation for the overall content overrides however many issues I find.
I am by no means a perfect writer, but I do seek critique from people I trust before I publish. There have been times when I wondered if anyone has read the book I am reading prior to publication or whether the author has listened to what feedback they have received. I want to be a better writer. I have to write, read, study and take on board constructive criticism in order to achieve that.
8. Your poem ‘World Poetry Day,’ feels like the title is a misnomer. The poem reads like it is to a friend or a lover – has World Poetry Day got a hidden significance that I’m not seeing or is it that, it is the day that most inspires you to write, making it the lover or the friend?
I wrote the poem to the theme for the year in question. It made me think about the role of poetry in my life. I suppose I do see poetry as a friend. I use it to let out my feelings, it helps me see things more clearly sometimes. It listens to me and helps me communicate my message into a manner that people will hopefully understand.
9. And finally, what makes you go to your desk every day and write?
I decided that if I was going to take writing seriously, I had to put the effort in as that was the only way to improve. I challenged myself to write every day and apart from a couple of weeks where I couldn’t I have stuck to the plan.
I don’t have a routine. I write whenever, wherever with whatever. I find routines and having to have things a certain way are barriers. I need some form of lubrication but otherwise I’m good. I write at my desk most of the time, I turn my pc on as soon as possible after I get out of bed and it’s on until I’m almost ready to get back in.
Writing is part of me. If I don’t write part of who I am is being neglected and that is not a road I wish to travel.
Orange is out now - rush out and buy it!
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