Lauren Ireland: How Poetry Informs Content Writing [Interview]
Lauren Ireland is a noted poet-she released two books this year and has several chapbooks under her belt-and the catalogue editor for Nordstrom.
For this month's writer interview, I chatted with Lauren about her new books, her process, and how poetry informs content writing.
Scripted: First, congratulations are in order-this year, you've released two books (Dear Lil Wayne/ Magic Helicopter Press and The Arrow/Coconut Books). And now for a double-pronged question: How has this impacted your day-to-day experience? Is a tour in the works?
Lauren Ireland: Thank you! Day to day, nothing has changed except that I worry more about how much I am not writing. There's a funny vacuum--for me, anyway--after letting a bunch of work go. A space of nothing, then relief, then pressure to make more poems rushes in.
I know that I should be planning a tour, but it's hard to balance that kind of time and money with non-academic, 9-to-5 career. So: tentatively, yes.
Scripted: Are you currently working on a new manuscript? If so, could you tell us a bit about it?
LI: Yes, I am. At first, it was just a project, because I find that having a framework in place makes it easier to write, now that I have to snatch time here and there. I asked some editors/friends to read them, and they just said, WRITE MORE. So I am trying to. There's no better thing to hear, ever.
The project came from the idea of examining how things change (or don't) with marriage. I wanted to write six months before and six months after, but a dead computer, wedding nonsense, and other things changed my plans. Now it's a less structured collection of poems that loosen the idea of grand romance from the reality of love.
Scripted: A little bird by the name of Facebook informed me that you recently co-founded The Ghostwriters of Delphi. For our unfamiliar readers, can you provide some information about this new endeavor? What types of submissions are you looking for, and what types are to be avoided?
LI: I am very excited about the Ghostwriters of Delphi! The poet Molly Dorozenski and her husband, Mark Rucktenwald, came up with the idea--I cannot take any credit for that! Nice to be the moon reflecting their sunny glow, though. I'm lucky to be Molly's co-editor.
Essentially, we want to use art to answer questions large and small. We are asking for submissions of both questions (anything from "where did I leave my keys" to "what is god") and art. The art can be a poem, or short fiction, or even visual art (JPEGs, please). The only thing we don't want is for submissions to be confined to what the artist feels is an "answer". Send us what you love, and we will try to use it to answer a burning question. Long-format submissions won't fit this project, also.
Scripted: You're currently the catalogue editor at Nordstrom, and you've held numerous copywriting posts in years past. How did you get your start with copywriting?
LI: I stumbled into it by answering an ad in Craigslist, during the good old days. At the time, I was fresh out of my MFA program, working as an educational program writer/teacher at a small press in Philadelphia. Anthropologie advertised for a part-time copywriter, and though I had no experience, they were interested in me because of my background in poetry. And I've been involved in copywriting ever since.
Now, I manage both copywriters and designers, which is so much fun--my job is to create and maintain synergy between words, design and images to enhance storytelling.
Scripted: What is your personal writing routine like-how do you strike a balance between work and personal writing pursuits?
LI: Frankly, I don't have a routine, and I probably do not have much balance right now. I used to be able to write at work, at jobs past--in meetings, at my desk, wherever. Now I am constantly busy and engaged, so my writing time has significantly dwindled. I try to make sure that I ALWAYS write things down--my phone is full of notes that often help me write poems later.
Scripted: In what ways has your copywriting and editorial experience impacted your creative endeavors?
LI: Well, in some ways, it's been very stimulating--as I said, when I was bored at other jobs, I wrote all the time. It was a way of using what would have otherwise been wasted time, and of preventing creative atrophy. Now, it makes writing time something I have to fight for--and I think that makes every poem more of a triumph.
Scripted: What advice would you offer creative writers hoping to transition to copywriting or content writing?
LI: As with almost any field, it's hard to enter without prior experience, so I recommend shamelessly exploiting connections, no matter how tenuous. If you don't have connections, cold call. If you admire a brand, research it. See what they're doing right, and what you think you could improve upon. Do not be shy about applying with a combination CV/resume. My past teaching experience has been a surprisingly applicable skill, and it has secured a few jobs for me--jobs that have nothing to do with academia.
Scripted: Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your insights with us, and congratulations again on the release of your books!