Chatting with Lisa Timpf
Lisa illustrates her love of haibuns, the difficulty in generating poetry sales, current size of the SpecPo market, and using news headlines for inspiration.
Lisa Timpf is a retired HR and communications professional who lives in Simcoe, Ontario. Her speculative poetry has appeared in New Myths, Star*Line, Triangulation: Habitats, Polar Borealis, and other venues. Her collection of speculative haibun poetry, In Days to Come, is available from Hiraeth Publishing. You can find out more about Lisa’s writing projects at lisatimpf.blogspot.com.
Lisa is also the author of the flash fiction story “Run Run Renegade” from Radon issue 2 and “The Day We All Died, a Little” from Radon Issue 5.
Your latest poetry collection, In Days to Come, is speculative haibun. How and when did you become enthralled with haibuns?
I first ran across the haibun form years ago when I was reading Bruce Ross’s book, How to Haiku: A Writer’s Guide to Haiku and Related Forms. The haibun form immediately appealed to me because my poems are often prose-like. I had a few of my early haibun published in Contemporary Haibun Online, and I was hooked. When I started writing speculative poetry, and submitting to journals like Scifaikuest, haibun was a natural form for me to use.
Did you find it difficult to get your poetry book picked up and sold in local stores?
Placing the book in local stores wasn’t a problem. The bigger issue is generating sales. I realize I would help my cause if I got out and did some readings or awareness-heightening activities.
Have you found that people most enjoy consuming poetry in physical form, as ebooks, or personal PDFs?
That’s an interesting question. For myself, I was initially resistant to reading poetry electronically, preferring physical copies. I still think you get the best experience with a physical copy in the case of a high-end chapbook that has tactile or visual features that don’t translate to the screen. However, for convenience, I’m now happy reading poetry on my e-reader.
How do you feel about the current size and state of the speculative poetry market?
Sometimes when venues close it’s discouraging, but it seems like there are new markets coming along to balance things out. I’ve had much more success finding places for my poetry on the speculative side than in literary magazines, though I do write both types of poetry. Probably like any other writer, I’d like to see more markets but there are actually a lot of good ones out there, so I think it’s fairly robust.
Is there a specific writing win from your past year that you're most proud of?
My poem “First Contact,” first published in Eye to the Telescope Issue 44 under the theme Notional Ekphrasis, tied for third place in the 2023 Rhysling Short Poem category. The Rhysling Awards are annual awards given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association for the best science fiction, fantasy, or horror poem of the year. I’ve always considered myself fortunate when one of my poems is nominated for the Rhysling Anthology. Having a poem place in the balloting was a much-appreciated bonus.
What is your plan to successfully tackle NaNoWriMo this November?
I try not to stress over the 50,000-word target. In recent years I’ve been better off aiming for 30,000 words or so, and I usually work on short stories rather than a novel. Basically, my plan is to do my writing early in the day, to try to write each day, and to do some pre-planning in October for stories and themes I want to tackle so I can spend more time writing and less time working out plot and theme issues.
Was your experience enjoyable or stressful writing a poem or more a day in NaPoWriMo?
I found it enjoyable for the most part. One of the things that made it enjoyable was coming across prompts that inspired poems I wouldn’t have written otherwise. I keep tabs on a few sites for this purpose, choosing the prompt for the day that most appeals, or sometimes looking back on past prompts. There were a handful of days toward the end of the month when I didn’t feel all that inspired but still managed to write something.
Is taking inspiration for poems from news headlines a great spark for your creativity?
News stories have often provided a spark for poems. Sometimes, particularly when it comes to the environment or animal welfare, a story might touch on an issue I feel strongly about, so I address that in a poem. Other times, a news story will inspire some humorous or what-if thinking that leads to a poem.
Do you most often find yourself writing explicitly for publications? Or do write for yourself and then later submit what you create?
I’d say it’s a blend. Sometimes writing helps me better understand or explore what I think about something, or it helps me deal with feelings (as was the case with some poems I wrote after a much-loved border collie passed away in February 2021.) Other times, for example when writing in response to a set theme, I’m writing with publication in mind.
As a two-time Radon author, what brought you to the journal initially, and then coming back?
Radon is a good fit for some of the themes I address in my poetry, so that’s what drew me initially and keeps me submitting.