This post is part of an interview series featuring the authors of Family Stories from the Attic, an anthology of essays, creative nonfiction, and poetry inspired by family letters, objects, and archives. Monday posts are featured on the Hidden Timber Books website, and Wednesday posts are featured here. Learn more about Family Stories from the Attic at the bottom of this post. Without further ado, let’s meet Yvonne Stephens, author of “Syl” and “Letters on Repeat from 728 W Spruce St.”
Q: Did you write “Syl” and/or “Letters on Repeat from 728 W Spruce St.” with a particular person/reader in mind?
Yvonne: I first wrote “Letters on Repeat” for my Grandma LeTourneau (pictures below), who had passed away in 2007. I wanted to get to know her when I was a young adult, so I wrote her several letters. Soon, she wrote back.
We developed a deep friendship, and when I attempted to write a found poem I used her letters as the found text. This poem has always been for her, but upon editing the poem and sending it out to be published, I thought of my Father, and his siblings, my Aunts and Uncles, as the next level audience. Especially my Aunt Joan, who is mentioned in the poem.
“Syl” was written with the same audience in mind: my Grandma, Dad, Aunts and Uncles. I wrote “Syl” from a letter I found in my Grandmother’s sewing kit, addressed to her and written by my Grandfather. I did not know my Grandfather other than through stories. Finding his letter and using it as the found text for “Syl,” the companion poem to “Letters,” felt like a gift.
My husband, Jason, is always my first reader, so he is part of my particular audience, too.
Q: How has the publication of your piece influenced the work you are writing today or your writing in general?
Yvonne: The publication of these two poems is helping me make the transition to be a more public poet. I feel in such good hands with Hidden Timber Books, Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero. It’s increased my ability to claim myself a poet. You all have made me more proud of myself. Thank you!
Q: What is a fun, interesting, or unusual fact about yourself that you’d like to share with your readers?
Yvonne: I love mycology, the study of mushrooms and fungi. I love to knit, and my favorite knitting is free knitting–improvisation instead of following a pattern. Combine the two, and yes, I have knit several mushrooms.
Connect with Yvonne
Yvonne and Grandma L, circa 2000.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Family Stories from the Attic features nearly two dozen works of prose and poetry inspired by letters, diaries, photographs, and other family papers and artifacts. Editors Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero bring together both experienced and new writers who share their stories in ways that reflect universal themes of time, history, family, love, and change.