DOWNEY – Downey poet Lorine Parks will introduce her new book, “Persons of Interest,” at Poetry Matters, Thursday evening, February 19, 7:00 PM, at Stay Gallery. Parks is a prolific writer, and the title of this volume reflects the wide-ranging subjects of her inspiration. Her poems span both time and place as she gives voice to such disparate figures as Ariadne from Greek mythology, a medieval peasant paying his tithe, a woman betrayed by an errant husband, and a priest ministering to inmates on death row. The tone of each piece shifts, sometimes reverent, sometimes humorous, sometimes horrifying, as Parks assumes each new perspective and voice.
Parks is a well-known figure around Downey for her community service activities with the Rotary Club, Downey YMCA, Soroptimists, and the Downey Symphony, and for her thirty-five years as the owner of an independent travel agency. Retirement in 2010 gave her more time for poetry and she sets aside several hours each morning to write.
While she is disciplined about using the mornings to revise and edit, she says the idea for a poem can occur anywhere – in the car, at the breakfast table, or while taking a bath. “I usually stop and write as much as I can while the moment is with me,” she explains, “even if it means pulling the car over to the side of the road.” When she is inspired, she writes as much as possible. “I don’t ever try to harness it.”
Park’s imagination does not limit her to human subjects. Animal lovers will chuckle over the canine take on the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and Pavlov’s experiment as seen from the perspective of the dog.
Current and historical events are also sources for Parks, and her well crafted pieces lead to unexpected and chilling places. In “Ali Monsoon” she gives voice to the thoughts she imagines the mind of a Palestinian suicide bomber. Chilling for a different reason is “the singing of the Titanic,” a piece in which the crashing and crushing of the ship unfolds as orchestral music.
Balanced against these poems of imagination are writings that stem from Parks’s heart and spirit. Women will recognize the grief as palpable in “the French call them love tips,” a poem about the loss of a child. Some mothers will concur with the life lesson expressed in metaphor as a woman thinks of her mother while playing computer solitaire - “if it isn’t going to be a winner / toss it don’t waste your time don’t settle.” And both men and women will nod with understanding as the Old Woman considers her “exit” strategies – “she refuses to rot and go to mulch….she’d rather be road kill / fully alive until hit / like the young men at war.”
Parks’s first book, “Catalina Eddy” was published in 2012. This collection grew from the human tendency to personify our weather with human names and attributes - Mae Gray, June Gloom, Polar Flo. Parks imagined distinct personalities for each name, and together they became a “noir-ish” clan of mobsters and molls with their fierce hurricane relatives - Camille, Gustavo, and Ernesto.
“Catalina Eddy” grew from the culture and climate of southern California. Park’s second collection, “Persons of Interest,” spans the world and human history. Both books will be available during the reading
Poetry Matters, curated by Parks, has been a monthly series for over three years. Those with poems of their own to share are encouraged to come early when doors open at 7:00 PM and sign up for the open mike. Stay Gallery is located at 11140 Downey Avenue, just north of Firestone Blvd.
For those who will not be able to attend the Thursday night event, Parks will also be introducing her new book at the Downey Library’s afternoon Author’s Event, to be held in the Cormack Room on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 2:30 p.m.
Further information is available online at downeyarts.org.
Published: Feb. 12, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 44