Interview with Laura Jan Shore, author of Afterglow

  • You went through a traumatic event when it came to losing your husband. How important do you think poetry was in helping you through this process?

After the loss of my husband, it was reading poetry that brought solace and connection. I noticed many of my friends and family didn’t know what to say to comfort me. Our culture does not offer a container to support those experiencing grief.  Other people’s poems gave me permission to find language to express my own feelings.

  • What prompted you to respond through poetry?

Writing a poem is a process of discovery. Articulating what I felt or what I remembered deepened as I worked the craft. I explored a variety of ways to say it in a condensed form, to get at the essence of it.

  • Have you been in contact with people who have experienced similar tragedies and resonated with the way you have handled grief and loss in your book?

Yes, I’ve had feedback from other women who’ve experienced the weird reality of being a widow in a society that no longer names this or has a cultural place for it.

  • Did your husband’s death change the way you responded to him in your poetry? Did you feel closer to him in the poetry written after his death than before?

When I wrote poems about him while Anand was alive, he would give me feedback and suggestions.  Not a writer himself, he enjoyed having me write about him. After he died, I felt his presence and heard his input.  

  • Would you recommend writing as a means of coping for people who have lost a significant other? 

Absolutely.  Journaling is an amazing resource for working through the waves of grief. It’s a way to keep the loved one alive by remembering and a way to give voice to the pain of loss. Whether that writing remains private or later becomes the seed of a more polished form, the process is invaluable.

  • Do you think his memory will continue to inspire you to write? 

I find I am frequently addressing Anand as I write. It is a way to continue our conversations.

  • If your husband were still alive, how do you think he would respond to the book? 

I believe he would be proud of the book and grateful to me for writing it. He was always transparent about his own shortcomings and psychological challenges so I know he would have appreciated my efforts to describe these, in hopes that it might help someone else.

  • What is next on the horizon for you, Laura? Any upcoming projects? 

I’ve another poetry collection with the working title, Ripening, that I’m still compiling.  It is about growing older in chaotic environmental times, bearing witness to species loss and cultural upheaval in parallel to personal loss and physical deterioration. 

— Laura was interviewed by Lauryn Garrard, Assistant Editor, IP, in October 2020
Laura’s previous book with IP is Water Over Stone

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