Next Big Thing Interview with Margo Lemieux: Believe in Water

Happy to post this guest-blog/Next Big Thing Interview for fellow Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices Series winner Margo Lemieux. You can pre-order her book here!

Margo is a painter and poet. She is also an associate professor of fine art at Lasell College, where she teaches painting, illustration, and writing. She is the author of several children’s books: this is her first poetry collection.

What is the working title of your book?

Believe In Water, from a poem by the same name. Even though it talks of believing in water, it is about believing in aspirations and having faith in your own unique vision.

Where did the ideas come from for the book?

I have 2 purple composition books – one downstairs and one upstairs by my bed. I am inspired by little things: the sunlight illuminating a treetop with gold at sunset, the sweet taste of a fresh baked cookie, the comfort of my two dogs curled up on the sofa next to me. When a thought hits me, I write a draft for a poem, which I will later revise, often for a meeting of my poetry salon. When you are surrounded by writers who are better than you are, it forces you to demand more of yourself.

What genre does your book fall under?

Poetry. A chapbook. Poetry is the highest form of literature because it allows the most freedom within the strictest structures. That sounds like an oxymoron but the best creativity happens when you are forced to respond to strict parameters. Think of the westward pioneers in the early days of our country traveling through wilderness with barely even enough food. They were forced to incredible levels of creativity. Trying to write in a new, unique, and clear way while still using the tools of communication of our culture and language is the ultimate challenge.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Believe In Water is about focusing on small moments, everyday happenings, and savoring (or commiserating) later.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Some of the poems in this chapbook were over ten years in the writing. My inner poet is never satisfied. I am always looking for the better word, the more meaningful phrase, the best way to sneak in an internal rhyme. Language provides a whole smorgasbord of delightful choices.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

While I have been inspired by many poets – Becky Kennedy, Jane Yolen, ancient Chinese poets, Yeats, I could go on – I would never compare myself to someone I admire. I am still learning, finding my way, and my voice is still evolving.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I want to give credit to the members of my poetry salon – Becky Kennedy, Susan Page, Liz West, Salam Mir, Karen D’Amato, Jim Kennedy – for the very best encouragement inspiration.

I am just so pleased that my collection placed in the New Women’s Voices (Finishing Line Press) competition, which had many entries. While writing is personal, recognition provides a sense of accomplishment.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I did think long and hard about including a poem about a toilet brush. Was it too irreverent? Irrelevant? And I still have the toilet brush mentioned in the poem. I think of it now as an old and dear friend.

Believe in Water will be published in June, 2013, by Finishing Line Press. You can pre-order it here.

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