Interview with Lorraine Caputo

Photo: © Lorraine Caputo 2020

Please, introduce yourself and your writing.

I am a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. My poetry and narratives have been published in over 200 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa, such as Prairie Schooner (US), Canadian Dimension, Revista Máquina Combinatoria (Ecuador), The Writers’ Café Magazine (UK), Open Road Review (India), Cordite Poetry Review (Australia) and Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature (Nigeria). As well, my works appear in 14 chapbooks of poetry – including Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017), On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Fire & Water (Red Mare #18; Pink House, 2019). My works also appear in numerous anthologies, most recently Woman Scream (Dominican Republic: Editorial Rosado Fucsia, 2020).

I also pen travel pieces, with stories appearing in journals and in the anthologies Drive: Women’s True Stories from the Open Road (Seal Press, 2002) and Far Flung and Foreign (Lowestoft Chronicle Press, 2012). Additionally, I author travel articles and guidebooks about Latin America.

In 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored my verse. I have done hundreds of literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia, and have won poetry slams. In a former lifetime, I organized cultural events and was involved in street theater.

For several decades, I have been traveling through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.

Your latest writing project(s)?

I have been taking this downtime (courtesy of the pandemic) to try to catch-up on back writing projects which includes editing: drafts of 100+ train rides (from Alaska to Patagonia); years of poetry; exercises from Poetry Writing Month many moons ago … Unfortunately, this has come in spurts during these months …

How would you describe your poetry?

My poetry is “documentary.” In word-paintings, word-photos, many of my poems capture vignettes of scenes and conversations of my travels through Latin America. I invite people to journey with me, to meet the people, join the celebrations, to learn the history, to see the landscapes. Others have classified my verse as “travel poetry” – though I do write about other topics and sentiments.

Why do you write?

I realize that many are not able to travel – whether due to health, finances, familial obligations or other reasons. I have come to realize through my travels that once we peel away the layers of geography, language, culture, etc. and arrive at the bare bones of what life is, we share many of the same joys and sorrows. Through my writings, I hope to create bridges between us, between nations. I hope to put a human face on the names of countries, as an offering to helping create peace and understanding between us.

Also with my poetry I strive to not only educate, but also affirm and inspire – to sow affirmation of common experiences or feelings (many that are oft-times hushed by society or those that hold the reins of power) – to inspire people to create, to join in community, or to take action.

Who are your favourite authors?

There are so many fantastic poets … just a few that come to mind in this moment are Pablo Neruda, Daisy Zamora, Nicolás Guillén, Cristina Rodríguez Cabral, Carolyn Forché, Martín Espada, Maya Angelou … and multitudes of lesser known ones that I come across in journals …

I also read a lot of fiction, and Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and others I do not remember right off are always welcome at my bedside. Another pleasure is nonfiction – history, archaeology, political science, natural history, etc. – and travelogues (more inspiration of where to go!).

Do you have a homepage?

Yes. People may follow my journeys on Facebook at Lorraine Caputo – Latin America Wanderer or at my blog, Latin America Wanderer.

Thank you very much for the interview!