Inquiring Minds and Other Clichés — Lizzy Swane

— a poetry interview series by Christine Klocek-Lim

Lizzy Swane

1. What is your favorite poem that you’ve written? Read?

My favorite poem I’ve ever read is about social justice. Social Justice is at the core of what is popular in poetry today. “For Strong Women” by Marge Piercy tops the list of favorite poems I’ve ever read or heard.

The favorite poem of mine tends to be the one I am currently working on. I enter a mind set while writing and revising that leaves me once I’ve decided a poem is finished and my attention to it wanes. Months after writing a poem, I can not remember the justification for each and every word or image but I trust that I put it there for a purpose. My current poem is “A Pause Before the Cicadae Siren” and I obsess over it like I do every poem

2. Do you think there is a disconnect between academic poets/poetry and online poets/poetry?

There is a huge disconnect in poetry today between the traditional academic and the modern rise of Slam Poetry. The online community hosts a mixture of both styles so there seems to be no disconnect there.

3. Has the rise of the poetry MFA been positive or detrimental to the art?

A degree opens the door to the academic world. Without one, access to traditional academic publishers is nearly impossible. I have read poems by people with advanced degrees that weren’t as good as many I’ve read by non-degree holders. A degree is therefore no guarantee of quality. What makes a quality poet/poem is the author’s willingness to receive critique from others and to apply critique to their knowledge base for the poems they are working on and will write.

4. Do you write for yourself or for an audience/reader?

I write for them poem. I want the poem to have its voice and strive to make every word count for the poem’s sake.

5. How much of what you write is inspiration vs. perspiration?

Most of what I write is initially inspiration. Once the inspiration kicks in, the perspiration soon follows. There are usually a number of things that come together to click in my brain. Most often it is the relationship between at least three ideas that come together to be expressed in the poem’s inspiration phase. Without the perspiration of editing and weighing the value of every word, a poem will not blossom into all that it can be.

6. Bonus question! Answer any one of the following:

a. Do you ever include the works of others in your readings? If not, why not? If so, who and why?

Depends on the occasion. When I was new to poetry I was so excited to showcase my own work that I didn’t include the works of others. For Women’s History Month, I included the aforementioned poem by Marge Piercy.

b. Why do you read or write poetry?

I write and read poetry because poems are a gift that come straight from the core essence of a person. Without poetry we are not much different than any other animal on the planet. Poetry is something everyone can do and do well if they are committed to exposing their work to others. It’s a direct route to what is spiritual. Poetry is a kind of prayer.

c. Has what you write changed (or not changed) over time?

Polishing poems has become easier the longer I write. Sometimes I edit while I write. I often use online sources to look up words or ideas or people or other literary works. On my most most recent poem I had five browser windows open to different sites, fact checking what I put to paper to make sure I am saying what I mean to say. If an additional inspiration for a poem hits me during the perspiration phase, I always stop and look it up before including a new idea.

d. Anything else you’d like to say?

Poetry should be a formal class in every school and every grade across the nation. We’d have a lot less crime in our country if we did.


Lizzy Swane chooses to remain silent; exercising her write to atone, a turn or attenuation here or

there, whether or not she can afford one, one night, one night’s stand, oneness or otherness.

Anything said or heard, touched or felt, smelled or tasted, seen or envisioned may be used as

evidence for a poem.

Should she choose to give up her write in exchange for one time publishing rights, she shall remain

‘owner sans onerous’ of all trials and travails endured by readers and jarred or juried peers.

Any questions about these writes may be rightly addressed to


Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour – click for a list of participating blogs and daily entries
Upper Rubber Boot Books is coordinating a book blog tour for April, to help promote poetry and poets for National Poetry Month. Check back here for updates throughout the month of April (we’ll also post updates to our blog, and so will many of the participating poets).
Follow this event on Facebook or Goodreads.


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