Poets of the Dark: Interview with Lori R. Lopez
Lori R. Lopez wears many hats as an award-winning Author and Poet. She is also an Artist, Songwriter-Musician, Actress, Filmmaker, Tree-Hugger, Activist, Vegan, and Animal-Lover. Lori roamed graveyards as a kid and conducted funerals for dead birds, squirrels, insects and spiders. Her offbeat books include The Dark Mister Snark, An Ill Wind Blows, Darkverse: The Shadow Hours, Odds & Ends, The Fairy Fly, Leery Lane, and The Witchhunt. Stories and verse have appeared in The Sirens Call, Spectral Realms, Space & Time, JOURN-E, The Horror Zine, Weirdbook, Bewildering Stories, Impspired, Altered Reality, Aphelion, Oddball Magazine, Terror Tract; Anthologies such as California Screamin’ (the Foreword Poem), HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes (II, III, V, VI, IX) and more. Lori is an Elgin and Rhysling Nominee, a San Diego Book Awards Winner, and a Kindle Book Awards Finalist. While serving as a Navy Journalist, she was nominated for The American Spirit Honor Medal. Visit her website at fairyflyentertainment.com.
What sparked your interest in horror poetry? Was there a particular event or work that inspired you to delve into the darker side of poetry?
It goes way way back. I’ve truly loved Horror Poetry since childhood, with favorites being “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, and the words of the Witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. These classic lines still reverberate: “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble.” Also, “By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.”
I had long dreamt of writing such enduring words, and telling tales of my own. It was a twisted rocky trail to the point where at last I took time away from Prose and returned to a love of Verse about 2009, beginning a “Poetic Reflections” Column, the base for several Poetry Collections. From three volumes would come more than two hundred fifty Dark Poems that bubbled in my mental cauldron among the Humorous and Serious. I wanted to display all of these Horror Poems in a special book, because they meant so much to me. My creeptastic Collection Darkverse: The Shadow Hours was born at the end of 2017. I penned quite a number of Horror Poems since that year, for an upcoming volume in my Poetic Reflections Book Series, but I am proud of Darkverse, nominated for an Elgin Award and a Kindle Book Awards Finalist.
Many of my Horror and Speculative Poems have been published in Magazines or Anthologies such as HWA Poetry Showcases, which is very encouraging. Seven poems received Rhysling Award Nominations.
Can you describe your creative process when writing horror poetry? Do you have any rituals or techniques that help you tap into your darkest fears and bring them to life on the page?
I’ll get ideas and jot them down, or just decide to write something and let it bleed from my soul onto the page. That’s pretty much how it happens. There are pools and black pits inside; reserves of suffering filed away and labeled as Experience. There have been bouts of Depression, but I mostly battle Anxiety and Insomnia from personal traumas, so there are plenty of fears, and writing has long been my form of Therapy, my best way to cope. I definitely draw on those dark places. I find much of my expression through Horror, although I am known to pen amusing stuff, and I’ll stir in various genres on occasion. I suppose being a bit Paranoid helps, since I tend to think of terrible things that could happen (and sometimes do).
How do you balance the need to be evocative and disturbing with the constraints of poetic structure and form? Are there any particular strategies you use to create tension and build suspense in your horror poems?
I allow the lines to flow, whether rhyming or not; whether a specific form or crafting my own. I don’t always think in terms of strategies. The tension and suspense find their places to hide and spring out. I listen to the voices of my poetry. It’s better than having my head full of voices. The ringing in my ears is bad enough. Most of the time I ignore it. My Imagination, however, cannot be ignored and keeps me awake scribbling ideas!
Who are some of your favorite horror poetry inspirations? Are there any authors or poets whose work you admire and draw inspiration from when crafting your own dark verse?
The work of Poe, Noyes, and Shakespeare stay with me . . . deeply ingrained, part of my artistic fabric along with Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, and Murder Ballads “Barbara Allen” by Anonymous as well as “Tom Dooley” by Thomas Charles Land, to name a few more examples.
It has been wonderful to know contemporary Dark Poets, sharing pages with fellow HWA and SFPA Members, among others. I’ve enjoyed reading their words in publications and for award consideration.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring horror poets who want to explore the genre? Are there any particular challenges or pitfalls they should be aware of, and how can they overcome them to create truly terrifying poetry?
Read as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to write. Pens don’t usually bite, and you can turn off a computer if it starts to growl. (First check if it’s your own stomach. You may have forgotten to eat while immersed in a poem. Happens to me.)
Find your voice, your style. Keep believing and working hard. Self-Doubt can affect anyone, however accomplished. Try not to let the negative voices, within or without, prevent you from making progress.
I think one of the hardest things is to be patient with yourself. Things take time. And, since my books are self-published by choice, relatively few people are aware of them. Others make unfair assumptions. At times I feel rather obscure. It means a lot when somebody chooses to read my strangeness!