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RAVEN CALL: Donna Lynch

Every week throughout the month of April, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be featuring one horror poet. This week's poet is Donna Lynch.

Donna Lynch is a two-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated dark fiction writer, designer, spoken word artist, and the singer and co-founder—along with her husband, artist and musician Steven Archer—of the dark electro-rock band Ego Likeness (Metropolis Records). Her written works include Isabel Burning, Red Horses, Driving Through the Desert; and the poetry collections In My Mouth, Ladies & Other Vicious Creatures, Daughters of Lilith, Witches, Choking Back the Devil, and Girls From the County, among others. She is an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and the winner of the 2019 Ladies of Horror Fiction Awards for Best Poetry Collection—Choking Back the Devil (Raw Dog Screaming Press). She and her husband live in Maryland.

Ronald J. Murray: Tell me what drew you to writing poetry.

Donna Lynch: I was a musician from early childhood, long before I started writing, so once I started, it felt natural to pay attention to the flow. Poetry and lyrics are one and the same to me.

RJM: What does your process for writing poetry look like?

DL: It’s hours or days of procrastination then it all comes out like a burst dam.

The goal is to get it all on the page, however much of a mess it is. Then I go in and repair it.

The desire to create things perfectly formed straight out of your head is a common feeling, but it’s not realistic. I had to learn to not be scared to write something stupid at first and make it better later.

RJM: Are there any classics that influenced your work?

DL: A thousand songs and movies and poems and paintings and stories, absolutely. You can find inspiration from medium to medium. Visual art prompts my writing. My writing prompts my music, and so on.

My earliest interests were dark and surreal: Poe, Lewis Carroll, Vonnegut (though I did not understand what I was reading, I knew I liked it), the Doré illustrations from The Divine Comedy, Dorothy Parker, a big book of satire and comedy (Laughing Matters by Gene Shalit), Francis Bacon, Stephen King, Danielle Dax, myriad vampire things, Waterhouse…just too many artists and pieces to name.

But I can point to lines in my writing that are references or pay homage to so many of my favorite things.

RJM: Are there any contemporary poets that you admire?

DL: Stephanie M Wytovich is an amazing dark poet and has been instrumental in helping me with my own writing.

There’s an erroneous idea that there are very few femme horror writers and even fewer femme horror poets, but it’s so wrong. Someone recently complied a list of 1200 names of known femme horror writers, most of whom also write poetry (to varying degrees).

RJM: Which achievement as a poet do you consider your most valuable?

DL: I would be tempted to say the Stoker nominations, but that’s not it. It’s a big deal to me and a wonderful feeling, but it’s not my carrot. It’s the act of completing a body of work that can go out into the world and—maybe, possibly, hopefully—be one of those creations that works its way into someone else’s head and their art.

RJM: Which of your poems evoked the strongest emotional response from you as you wrote it?

DL: There are lines in several that choke me up, but I think My Grandmother, the Hunter (from Daughters of Lilith) is probably the one. There’s one in my upcoming book called Vernal Pool that hit me hard, but I haven’t had as much time with it. Lyrically, the Ego Likeness track Wolves is always a challenge to get through on stage.

RJM: Has the emotional impact with any of your work changed as time has passed?

DL: I think the longer you live with something, the more desensitized you get, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Imagine if grief never changed or subsided. It’s all we would be made of. But whenever someone newly exposed to it has an emotional response, it reminds me of how it felt in the beginning.

RJM: What is your favorite genre of poetry to read? Do you stick with horror, or do you venture beyond the genre?

DL: I am a huge fan of horror, but also the satire and wit of Dorothy Parker; writers like Bukowski, and other even more transgressive writers. Because some of us are trying to raise the bar in our society when it comes to inclusion, acceptance, and compassion, so much of the latter is problematic now, but it’s still something I’m drawn to. Not because I agree or relate, but because it’s like picking a scab. I want to see how far I can go before it bleeds. How much is too much. Which parts hit and which parts are so ugly that I can’t imagine where (or how) you’d hold them in yourself. My interests are dark because I am very at home with discomfort. Know thine enemy, I guess.

RJM: Do you have any speculative poetry collections in your TBR pile?

DL: Not immediately, because we are back to focusing on performing and touring with Stoneburner (my partner’s industrial project) and all the travel and preparation that comes with that. I’m a slow reader under the best of circumstances. However, I encourage anyone who likes the genre to do searches under horror writing on Twitter, accounts like Ladies of Horror Fiction, for so many recommendations and new book announcements.

RJM: Are you working on anything now and can you share any details with us?

DL: My eighth poetry collection, Girls From the County, will be out through Raw Dog Screaming Press in August. I have three or four ideas for the next collection and some short stories, but I’m still fleshing them out.

RJM: Where can we find you online?

DL: I have a personal and artist page on Facebook, both under Donna Lynch, and the Ego Likeness band page. I’m GeekLioness on Twitter, d_note on Instgram, and also Garbage Witch Original (for my clothing & accessory brand) on Instagram and Facebook.

My books can be found on the Raw Dog Screaming website, music on Bandcamp and at Metropolis Records.

We’ve had a website revamp under construction for two years now, so someday, there will be EgoLikeness dot com again.

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