Memory and Voice in Lynne Thompson’s Beg No Pardon
The poems in Beg No Pardon, Lynne Thompson’s latest collection, have been called many things: extroverted, declarative, jazzy, vital, joyous, and sorrowful, among other adjectives (Perugia Press, 2007). As a self-identified poetry-whore who has found her experience of poetry to be mostly emotional (sorry to all the critically minded out there), I find Thompson’s well-spun (and crafted) lines to be both crushing and uplifting to the very foundation. Her poetry encompasses that ‘terrible beauty’ of which Yeats so longingly speaks. It carries the reader down, down into the body; down into the blood, fingers, and legs; down into those worn and tender synapses of thought, all electric and indefinable. Then, in the next moment, it carries the reader up, up into the saving place; up into the light; into that paling streak of redemption, the reason behind all that came before. In 6 words, Lynne Thompson’s poems moved in me.
At the core, Thompson tells a story. She is speaking. She is confessing and thinking and processing and feeling her world—from the child to the girl, to the being borne of two worlds, two identities, and the world that breathes now. Thompson traces the line and pulls her meaning from the many voices of her experiences. She is speaking as we watch her spin and crash and rise again. This is the thing we come for. This is what we look for. These are the lessons she teaches while (I expect) she herself, like us, is wrapped in webs of a tumultuous discovery.
Beg No Pardon is a testament to strength and history and pride and grace and vision and myth, to the dark and devastating, to the feral birth into womanhood, into understanding, into that capture of meaning, spirit, humanity. Thompson is not keeping anything. This is Beg No Pardon and, in a recent interview, this is what Thompson had to say to me.
DG: You’ve been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, have appeared in a number of anthologies and other publications, and recently published Beg No Pardon. What other “bio-type” things are out there that I might be missing?
LT: Does winning $10,000 in cash and prizes on TV's Joker's Wild count? No? You want "po-biz"? I must say that the oral component of poetry is often overlooked (unless one is discussing poetry slams), so I'm proud to have participated in festivals that feature poets giving voice to their work, such as the "Newer Poets" series which is hosted annually by the Los Angeles Public Library. In 2007, I joined fellow poets at the Lummis Day celebration (which honors Charles Fletcher Lummis, who was one of LA's first librarians and who founded the Southwest Museum), and, more recently, the West Hollywood Book Fair, where I joined Charles Harper Webb, Steve Abee and Suzanne Lummis, the honoree's granddaughter, as we put poetry "center stage."
DG: I notice that, although
you grew up in LA, your parents are from the
LT: My parents emigrated to the