“For the future of my writing,
I imagine my poetry in perpetual evolution”
By Lisa Stice
Read her work in WTP Vol. V #3
Inspiration for writing can come from many places, but for me as a poet it is drawn from place quite literally—through the years, place has become a fluidity and a learning to adapt to new environments. Having grown up in southwest Colorado, interior southern California and southern Nevada, for a long time I wrote about the harshness and beauty of the Mojave. After marrying, becoming a Marine Corps spouse, and moving away from the desert, place continued to influence my writing, but then became the big picture of history (military and artists/writers who came before me).
Becoming ensconced in the military environ has greatly influenced my subject matter. For a while, my husband’s job didn’t seem any different than any other because he was in a billet with steady, predictable hours. The big shake-up came when he was transferred to a deploying billet, and we received two-week’s notice of our new duty station. Life changed drastically and so did my writing. With the short notice, I was unable to apply to teaching positions in high schools in the new area, had to accept that I probably would never teach high school again because of all the moving I foresaw in my future, spent the first two months with only our dog and without furniture (the short-notice location meant our furniture went in storage until a company had an opening to move it across country). After my husband returned, he still wasn’t home much. He spent weeks and sometimes months away at trainings to prepare for deployment, missing about six months of my pregnancy and leaving for another training two weeks after her birth. And then there was the deployment. I couldn’t avoid writing about my new life anymore.
After my husband deployed, all of my frustration and fears became poems and then became a book: Uniform (Aldrich Press, 2016). What surprised me, though, is how much my favorite part of the Marine Corps, their devotion to tradition and history, influenced my writing. With every battalion-sponsored event or meeting we or I attended, I learned something new about the men and women who served before, the doctrine, old and recited speeches, and how important that history is in holding the Corps together and aiding people through challenges. I heard it over and over again, and that tradition and history infiltrated my writing. I used the military jargon. I called upon the Spartan wives, Penelope, the Amazons, and the Trojans. I incorporated acts of Congress, speeches and doctrine.
Now that I’m a mother, and my daughter has evolved into a toddler, so have my poems evolved. I now also draw inspiration from art books and children’s books that I share with my daughter. I’m also influenced by my daughter’s toddler perspective. With her limited frames of reference and language, I’m often tickled by the way she describes the world around her. I’ve noticed my poems becoming more imaginative and fanciful. Sometimes her unique phrasing also makes its home in my lines.
Even so, I still I find myself drawing from the military history (from other poets who wrote/write in times of conflict and from military texts). I don’t expect the influence of history and tradition to ever leave. For the future of my writing, I imagine my poetry in perpetual evolution, as military life is a constant changing and lobbing of the unexpected–as is my daughter, as she evolves through her stages of childhood. At the same time, she remains my constant; a firm connection to the people I need in my life, in my ever-changing environs. And I think that’s a good thing.
Lisa Stice, whose work appears in WTP Vol. V #3, received a BA in English Literature from Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University) and an MFA in Creative Writing and Literary Arts from the University of Alaska Anchorage. While it is difficult to say where home is, she currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of a poetry collection, Uniform (Aldrich Press, 2016). You can find out more about her and her publications at lisastice.wordpress.com and facebook.com/LisaSticePoet.