Member Spotlight for the Month of December 2004 - Lori Johnson

A Pathetic regular for over five years, Lori Johnson was born in NE, Alabama, in 1971. Right from the beginning, Lori believes the southern locale influenced her as a writer. "Being southern born & bred could do nothing but influence my writing," she said. "I love the south and am so grateful for the southern traditions & down home values that are instilled in me." A quick glance at her poetry, at pieces such as “Suthern Livin’” & “Barefeet Borrowed”, clearly indicates how far this devotion runs. Being a graduate of the Institute of Sleep Medicine in Alabama, which makes her a registered sleep technologist, as well as a full-time mother, she has always found time for writing difficult to come by. However, she continues to work at it whenever she can. Despite this unwavering loyalty to her craft and an impressive body of work, Lori is somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of considering herself a poet. "It’s always been more of a pastime for me," she said. "A hobby, I guess." Whether or not she'll ever change her mind on this subject, Lori has never been confused as to what her poetry means to her. "In all honesty, it is my therapy. It’s how I sort things out & express myself."

As far as inspiration goes, Lori has always found the people of Pathetic to be the best source of support. “I have an amazing support system of friends and family but when it comes to my poetry, I tend to keep most it tucked away in my little Pathetic corner and rarely share it outside this group.” This doesn't mean she has never found inspiration and influence from some of the world's best known poets. Quite the opposite, as she lists Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Shel Silverstein, “anything that draws me in.” Even writers in the field of fiction have left a mark of some kind, from Nicholas Sparks to Haywood Smith.

Because she has written “For as long as I can remember,” Lori has developed a clear idea of what poetry means to her and, at the very least, a vague idea of the direction she wants her own work to take. She believes that poetry “Has always been a viable form of creativity, as long as people have their senses, there will be poetry.” She goes on. “Poetry is who we are, what we feel. It's where we live, what we taste. It's inside us all.” Having said this, Lori doesn't believe she will ever seek publication of her work beyond the confines of Pathetic. “No,” she said, when I asked her about this possibility. “My library is like a secret hiding place. It's safe and comfortable.” Her personal beliefs on the subject aside, she is quick to point out how important she realizes publication can be for others. “While I understand other's desire to be published, it's simply not a goal of mine. My library is much too personal to handle rejection. From what I understand, there's much of that in the literary world.” To Lori, “It's not my career, it is my escape.” With poems like “Drowning Pool” and “Sooth and Sway”, pieces Lori herself referred to as “deeply personal,” it's difficult to argue with such a mindset.

And what style of poetry brings about this escape most quickly? “I don't really have a particular favorite poetic style,” she replied. “I like such a wide variety, but I probably tend to be drawn to free-style poetry dealing with the human condition. It's a clean, white canvas open to so much possibility.”

Like so many other writers, this can occasionally fall under the easier said than done category. Not surprisingly, Lori finds writer's block to be the most difficult part of the work. “To have so much to say and be unable to express it is pure hell sometimes.” Sometimes, but not all the time. “Although I may lay dormant for months on end, I always come back to my paper and pen.”

When the time came to close this interview, I asked Lori if she had any advice to offer those making their initial jump into poetry. Her answer struck me as being one of the most useful things anyone who's seeking out creative salvation on the internet can hope to receive.

“Stay away from poetry.com. I've watched many a poet fall in to that trap.”

Well said.

The following is a list of the highlights of Lori Johnson's poetry:

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The member spotlighted in this month's "Member Spotlight" is chosen by the pathetic.org Spotlight committee, which is made up of a small group of site patrons and administrators. Each month a member is selected for this privilege based upon contributions to pathetic.org and the quality of work.

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