HP Poet: Lori Jones McCaffery
Question 1: We welcome you to the HP Spotlight, Lori. Please tell us about your background?
Lori: "I was born Loretta Yvonne Spring in a tarpaper shack on Lone Oak Road, Longview Washington, on New Years Day in 1939. That means I’ll soon turn 85. In high School a boyfriend changed my first name to Lori and I kept it. At 29 I married and became Lori Spring Jones. (I signed poems “lsj”) I had one child, a daughter, and when 20 years later I divorced, I kept the Jones name. I married again, in 1988 and became Lori Jones McCaffery, sometimes with a hyphen, sometimes not. I’m still married to that Brit named Colin and I speak “Brit” fluently. I sign everything I write “ljm” (lower case). I didn’t know about handles when I joined HP, so I just used my whole name and then felt I may have seemed uppity for using all of it. If I had a handle, it would likely be POGO. Short for Pogo stick. Long Story. I have an older sister and a younger brother. Both hate my poetry. My parents divorced when I was 12. My mother’s family was originally from No. Carolina. I’m proud of my Hillbilly blood. I went to college on a scholarship. Worked at various jobs since I was in high school. Moved to Los Angeles in 1960 just in time to join the Hippy/summer-of-love/sunset-strip-scene, which I was heavy into until I married. I read my stuff at the now legendary Venice West and Gas House in Venice Beach during that period. I’ve been an Ins. Claims examiner, executive secretary, Spec typist, Detective’s Girl Friday, Bikini Barmaid, Gameshow Contestant Co-ordinator, Folk Club manager, organizational chef, and long time Wedding Director. (I’ve sent 3,300 Brides down the aisle) "
Question 2: How long have you been writing poetry, and for how long have you been a member of Hello Poetry?
Lori: "I wrote my first poem in the 5th grade and never stopped. I had an awakening in 1957 when I worked at a resort during school break and met another poet, who unleashed a need to write that I’ve never been able to quell. I joined Hello Poetry in 2015, I think. Seems like I’ve always been here. I tend to comment on everything I read here. I’ve received no encouragement from my family so I feel compelled to encourage my “family” here. I do consider a large number of fellow writers friends, and value the brief exchanges we have. I don’t know if Eliot intended HP to be a social club but among us regulars, it kind of has been, and I love that."
Question 3: What inspires you? (In other words, how does poetry happen for you).
Lori: "Living inspires me. The intricacies of relationships, and the unpredictability of navigating society. A news story often does it. A song may stir words. Other poetry often sets me off on a quest of my own. I write very well to deadlines and prompts. I adore BLT’s word game and played it a lot in the beginning. Seeing the wonderful job Anais Vionet does with them shamed me away. I have hundreds of yellow lined pages with a few lines of the ‘world’s greatest poem’ on each, all left unfinished because I’m great at starts and not so great on endings. Some day, I tell myself….some day."
Question 4: What does poetry mean to you?
Lori: "Poetry has been a large part of my life as long as I can remember. I would feel amputated without it. I recited the entire “Raven” from memory in Jr. High School. I still remember most of it. More recently I memorized “The Cremation of Sam McGee” Poetry is my refuge - with words I can bandage my hurts, comfort my pain and loss, share my opinions and assure myself that I have value. It is where I laugh and also wail. I would like to think it builds bridges."
Question 5: Who are your favorite poets?
Lori: "My favorite poets include Edgar Allen Poe, Robert W Service, Amy Lowell (I read ‘Patterns’ in a speech contest once), Robert Frost, Shel Silverstein, and Lewis Carroll."
Question 6: What other interests do you have?
Lori: "I’m a collector. Whippet items, vintage everything, I read voraciously: 15 magazine subs, speculative fiction (SF) and anything else with words written on it. I try to read everything every day on HP. I watch Survivor religiously and keep scorecards. Ditto for Dancing with the Stars. I’m a practicing Christian with a devilish side and involved heavily in Methodist church work, which includes cooking for crowds and planning events."
Carlo C. Gomez: “Thank you so much for giving us an opportunity to get to know you, dear Lori! It is an honor to include you in this series!”
Lori: "Thank you so much for this very undeserved honor. This is a wonderful thing you are doing. I know I write with a different voice than many, and it is empowering to be accepted for this recognition. I apologize for being so verbose in answering your questions. When you get to my age you just have so many stories to tell."
Thank you everyone here at HP for taking the time to read this. We hope you enjoyed getting to know Lori better. I learned so much. It is our wish that these spotlights are helping everyone to further discover and appreciate their fellow poets. – Carlo C. Gomez & Mrs. Timetable
We will post Spotlight #10 in December!