I’d like to you meet Lianne Card, another one the contributors to Leaves from the Valley Oak. You’ll find her poetry in the book. She’s a longtime member of Exeter Writers.
Lianne, tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Canada of Ukrainian ancestry and became a naturalized US citizen after September 11th. I grew up in a multicultural enclave in Winnipeg, Manitoba, a prairie city where learning was intensely respected by our immigrant communities. I knew from an early age that I wanted to experience the world as widely as possible. I moved to California in 1979 and spent 15 exciting years working in Silicon Valley during times of great optimism and growth in the computer industry. I have learned to love all of California with its diverse geography and people. I was able to enjoy living in Aptos, hearing the surf during winter nights, then appreciated the delights of Paso Robles wine country before moving to Exeter in 2003.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since primary school when I won a contest with a knock-off Nancy Drew mystery. I began keeping a journal in high school, a practice that persists until today. I have boxes of journals in the garage, and hope to live long enough to refine that raw material. My writing practice continues to be sporadic for my outer life has always been complex and many-faceted. I love writing getaways when I can be far from phones, people, and the Internet.
How did your upbringing color your writing?
My father loved poetry and committed hundreds of Ukrainian poems to memory. He would often recite to me. Later, I was coached to recite poetry as a performance art. I learned to respect the inner meaning of words, and project my voice to the back rows of the balcony. Wonderful English teachers in high school shared their love literature. Hearing the rhythms of language has always moved me. My mother and older sister both loved reading.
I love your poems. Where do you get your ideas?
Most poems come to me as an image or phrase from every day experience. I might glimpse a scene while driving, or be surprised by a phrase in an interaction with another person. If I can follow and explore the thread of the beginning, a poem will gradually take shape. Although the meter matters, I have also come to appreciate how a poem looks on the printed page.
What books and authors influenced you?
It would be difficult to narrow my influences, for I have read voraciously all my life. I loved the Beat poets – especially Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gary Snyder. I once had the good fortune to be able to be in a small group class with Alan Ginsberg. He emphasized the importance of randomness in poetic language. In a more traditional style, I still believe in Wordsworth’s assumptions about poetry. When you experience a place or an event, and recall it later, it then comes from a deep inner well where it has been stored. That “recollection in tranquility” filters out what is not essential. What is remembered is enhanced and sometimes more clear than what was grasped in the original moment.
Although I have focused on poetry in this interview, I also have been a great fan of creative nonfiction, especially literary travel and memoir. I love the works of Paul Theroux, Pico Iyer and Bruce Chatwin. All have the ability to tease out what’s universal and what’s unique about each place they experience. I appreciate how their perspectives simultaneously express the personal, the social and the historical.
What is your latest project?
I have been working on a memoir of a trip I took to Europe and the Middle East in 1967. It is a coming of age story and a snapshot of a historical turning point for my generation. I hope to complete it soon.