Ballard writer Laurie Blauner still finding truth in her imagination
By Emile Monte
Laurie Blauner had a smile in her voice as much as on her face. She wanted to talk poetry—my poetry, her poetry—and prose and the combination of the two that her work has become. Her enthusiasm for literature—for words, characters, sounds, meaning—was as transparent and contagious as laughter.
But have you heard of her? Perhaps not. She’s a small press kind of writer and less interested in her work being popular than being true. In twenty years of writing, Blauner still writes primarily for herself.
And in twenty years of writing Blauner has a lot of work to show for her efforts: seven books of poetry, four novels, and a few more on the road to being published. The next in line is a book of poetry, It Looks Worse than I Am, due in the fall of this year. Not to give anything away, but the book is divided in three parts: the first, about animals and intimacy; the second, about rooms and the loss of capability; the third, about a self-contained man who cannot be contained.
This only hints at the introverted method and darkly personal themes prevalent in Blauner’s work but that one wouldn’t guess based upon her immediate personable-ness. Her lines are evidence of her acts of choosing and judging all at once—the revealing of a character or scene while at the same time dissecting it. She wastes no time or space in drawing forth meaning. A few exemplary lines from her past work:
The rose tattoo at her ankle has no point, is a story without an ending.
Where hands are unhinged like bad grammar, color jumps out at me. The random yes or no of everything. Morality swirls in its poodle skirt.
By forty there is a sideshow of vanities: the dragon breath you wake to, bones tossed against your skin like waves, or the flesh that grows where a waitress tucks her loose change.
It Looks Worse than I Am, and all the rest of Blauner’s poetry these days, is the fruit of her temporary returns to poetic roots after relishing in the writing of long prose. “Fiction is nice because you can spread it out, give it a longer life.” It requires and offers more time, both in the reading and the writing of it.
Twenty years ago Blauner wouldn’t have thought herself capable of writing prose, much less long prose. The complexity of plot and the grasping at the thread over a long period of time was too hard. Even recently Blauner’s first and last contribution to the blogosphere was to assert that she was incapable of taking part in it. But what Blauner has discovered is her ability to empathize and follow through with characters. Writing, in addition to helping her find significance in her unconscious, allows Blauner to live lives that are not her own. “It’s all about imagination. It stretches us. That’s what I love.”
Blauner is channeling other lives and other voices more and more these days. Whereas her first novel was at least “85% nonfiction,” her latest, The Bohemians, is all made up. Her thematic concerns have similarly shifted with her maturity. When she was younger she was concerned with making sense of her personal experience, but now Blauner concedes that “there are some things you’ll never resolve, and at a certain point in your life you’re OK with that.”
Rather, Blauner is now concerned with the ins and outs of everything—herself and others, relationships, aging, childhood, entrapment. She’s an explorer going with the flow and producing maps of her experiences along the way, offering readers a ticket on her ride.
For more information about Blauner’s work, visit http://www.laurieblauner.com/.