DiscoverVerse: Lori Cayer + Mrs Romanov

Lori Cayer is next on deck for ALU DiscoverVerse. Today she chats with us about carrying the idea for her poetry collection Mrs Romanov (Porcupine’s Quill) for 20 years before it became an all-consuming effort to turn into a reality. Lori also shares more about the deep inspiration she takes from science, and the caretaker tendencies that would lead her to safety in any zombie apocalypse.


Share It:

During the month of April, you can buy any of our featured DiscoverVerse books for 20% off (+ we’ll send you a set of three poetry bookmarks so you’ll always find your place.)

An Interview with Lori Cayer

All Lit Up: What did you learn writing Mrs Romanov?Lori Cayer: I learned that I was capable of an intense interval of non-stop work including research and a book written in a span of 18 months, not counting my day job. My other books were amalgams that took many years each to write and collect. Mrs Romanov was an idea I carried for 20 years with only casual research taking place. When I began in earnest it became a commitment that consumed me completely, inhabiting character, time and historical place. The voice I found there was new and different too. It felt like what I imagine it would feel like to write a novel.ALU: If you were a character in a Choose Your Own Adventure story, what kind of quest would you be on? What three things would you have with you on your journey?LC: I think I would do well in a zombie apocalypse adventure heading for the fortress of Costco; I’m bossy but with strong caretaker tendencies. My backpack would have a weapon, a killer first aid kit and protein bars. ALU: Where do you draw inspiration from outside of poetry? LC: Without a doubt: science, whether that be anthropology, phycology or microbes. Most areas of science are of interest to me and infiltrate my work. Even in Mrs. Romanov there was the medical and historical aspect of Alexi’s incurable illness and the state of industry and technology during the lifetime of the Romanovs. There are pair of very early x-rays of Nicolas’s and Alexandra’s hands including buttons and jewelry. It was three years after x-rays were discovered and they invited over a doctor who owned an x-ray machine. Using it blew out the power in the palace. That didn’t make it into the book but I love that they wanted to know. ALU: Help us with a poetry prompt for our readers. Can you come up with a writing prompt for our readers to write their own poetry?LC: Choose someone else’s poem. Read the first line. Write your own immediate response to that line. Don’t think too much about it, just riff. Continue this way to the end of the other person’s poem. Put away the other person’s poem. Read what you’ve written, then get to work making it into a poem, look for things that hold together, or not, edit, cut, paste as you please. You may make every line work somehow, you may end up with a 10-line poem from 30.

A poem from Mrs Romanov

We cannot help the faces we were given
everything that happens can be traced
back to our faces, look at the photographs
both of us trained since birth, unmoving
for the long blink of the camera’s eye
Nicky’s face inscrutable, whatever his raging
or desiccated thoughts may be
my face of thin lips, pinch of brows
and deadly honest eyes
I cannot pretend if I want
and I do not want
along the way some loved ones die
some strangers
we are a correlated study in marble
or moonlight; all this to say
we are only savage
in certain light
* * *
Lori Cayer is the author of three previous poetry collections, including Dopamine Blunder (Tightrope Books, 2016), Attenuations of Force (Frontenac House, 2010) and Stealing Mercury (The Muses’ Company, 2004). Her poetry is endlessly informed by her editorial work in scientific research publishing. She lives in Winnipeg.* * *During the month of April, you can buy Mrs Romanov and any of our featured DiscoverVerse books for 20% off! PLUS: FREE shipping!Keep up with us all month on  TwitterInstagram, and  Facebook with the hashtag #ALUdiscoververse. BONUS:Play our Choose Your Own Poetry game where YOU are the narrator! Choose from multiple paths on the way to one ultimate goal: visiting your local bookstore to browse poetry. As you move through the story you will find poetry books to collect in your tote bag. There are a total of 36 poetry books to discover across the various paths with 12 possible endings. Which poetry collections will you find on your path?Playing time: 1-2 minutes per path. To play, click the link below to start the download.  

DiscoverVerse: Choose Your Own Poetry Game