The Story Behind “Two Poems” by Lynn Otto

lynn-otto-picToday’s post is written by Lynn Otto. We published her poems “Marcescence” and “And After” in our Fall 2016 issue.

When my friend Dave read someone’s claim that it’s impossible to write any more good poems about the moon, he wrote a poem about the moon.

Someone has probably said something similar about trees. But I live among them in the Pacific Northwest, so they appear in my poems now and then, though one could argue that the poems aren’t really about the trees. “And After” might resonate with people who have been caregivers, or who have been depended upon in some way that was difficult. “Marcescence” might ring true for anyone who is stuck in grief over the loss of a loved one, especially a parent or child, either to death or to a rift in the relationship.

I wrote both of these poems last year, when I was living in North Carolina, also surrounded by trees. Fall was beautiful. The leaves changed color, and then dropped, revealing more of a tangle of tree trunks than I expected, the fallen supported by the living, the living shaped by the fallen. And then there were the beeches, which hung on to their leaves, though the leaves had all turned golden brown. I was intrigued, discovered there was a word for this arboreal hanging on—marcescence—and a poem started percolating in my head. Then I read an interview with a literary journal editor—I don’t remember who—and in describing the job of reading through the slush pile, the editor said something like “You hope it’s not another fucking tree poem.”

Well then I had to write the poem.

About the Author

Lynn Otto is a freelance copy editor and webinar instructor. She has poems in various print and online journals including Driftwood Press Literary Magazine, Hartskill Review, Raleigh Review, Centrifugal Eye, and a poem in the anthology Winged: New Writing on Bees. She holds an MFA from Portland State University and calls Oregon home.

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