A balloon from her son’s party, the church on the corner, the soft spot on her infant child’s head, a rock concert, the gorillas at the zoo, and her favorite authors: The sources for poet and novelist April Lindner live in her everyday experiences with friends and family, strange events, and other moments seeded in her life.
On April 11, approximately 50 people gathered in the Cayuga Community College library to hear Lindner, the 2011 Visiting Writer, read selections from among her 100 publish poems and a chapter from Jane, her modern retelling of the classic novel Jane Eyre.
Before each reading, she shared a few thoughts about the origin or source for the poem. For example, the inspiration for her poem, “Fontanel,” came from the soft spot on her newborn son’s head. “It seemed like a metaphor for something so I thought I’d explore it,” she said.
“Here’s the ravine, a stretch of skin
Spanning the breach like a footbridge.
Canvas-thin, it trembles with the blood
That runs beneath. Something less tangible
courses there too…”
Some poems, she said, elude her for years at a time, such as “Our Lady of Perpetual Help,” which was about a church on a corner near her home. “I knew I’d write a poem about it someday,” she said. “It took years and years and years. And then one day, it came to me.”
In her writing, Lindner said she takes direction from the poems themselves. “How do I decide whether to write in rhyme or free verse? I don’t. I let the poem be whatever it wants to be,” she said. “Sometimes they come in a regular meter. Other times, it is in free verse.”
She writes the poems as they come to her and often in coffee shops where she said she gets to be “alone in a crowd.”
However, in writing her novels, Jane and Catherine (currently in progress), she said she is more structured, drafting an outline and notes and often scheduling a time to write every week. She juggles writing with her teaching responsibilities as an associate professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and with her parenting and family responsibilities.
Although her methods are different for the two genres, she said there are a few characteristics that she hopes remains consistent: clarity and musicality. “I want my work to be as musical as possible,” Lindner said. “I read all my work aloud and revise and rewrite until I get it right.”
She concluded her talk by explaining to the future poets and writers in the audience that it is very hard to get published and that there is often a lot of rejection along the way.
“But it’s worth it,” she said. “Don’t give up on yourself.”