Lily Iona MacKenzie and her views about poetry

Fling_Frontcover_Low_4-13-15 copy

Please welcome Lily Iona MacKenzie on her second stop of her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. Her new novel Fling! was just released and can be purchased through her publisher Pen-L Publishing as well as the Amazon link given below. Lily also writes reviews, essays, memoir, short fiction, and poetry.

Here she relates her thoughts about poetry and perception and exploring the world from various angles like we do in photography. I find her ideas very interesting since I like to write poems that reflect the scenes I photograph.

Please take a look at her poems in the collection published in 2011, called All This.



by Lily Iona MacKenzie

Many of my poems reflect a continuing interest in perception and how we try to capture fleeting moments with language. The art that comes closest to what I’m trying to do in poetry is photography, the exploration of things in the world (and in ourselves) from various angles. The attempt to penetrate surfaces by using the very surfaces themselves.

I just re-read a piece in an old issue of Round Table Review that has helped me to understand what I’m after in poetry. In an article entitled “This Talk of ‘Soul’: What Does It Mean?” Mary Stamper quotes James Hillman in Round Table Review from his work Revisioning Psychology:

“By soul I mean, first of all a perspective rather than a substance, a viewpoint toward things rather than a thing in itself. This perspective is reflective; it mediates events and makes differences between ourselves and everything that happens. Between us and events, between the doer and the deed, there is a reflective moment and soul-making means differentiating this middle ground….”

I’m trying to get into my poems the way we actually perceive the world, inner and outer, from the soul’s perspective, how the two collide and collude in the brain, the poem a reflection of that activity. Poets Charles Olson and Denise Levertov were after the shape of the inner voice they tried to capture how that sounded on the page. Others try to recreate the external world in traditional lyrics, or narratives, or some combination of the two.

I want the dimension in-between, where both come together; it’s a more accurate rendering of how we perceive. It seems only art and dreams can begin to duplicate that world for us. This idea connects to what Stamper says: “This means death of the notion that things appear to the soul in the same way that they appear in everyday contexts, that soul understands things in the same way that our egos do” (Round Table Review).

I also see a relationship between impressionist and some kinds of abstract paintings and the poetry I want to write of just suggesting something. Giving only enough information/detail to set the imagination working. I don’t want everything spelled out. I want mystery in my poems, new worlds. Or as Mark Rothko responded when he was visiting Greece and someone there commented on Rothko’s striped paintings: “‘Why don’t you paint our temples.’ Rothko replied, ‘Everything I paint is a temple.'”

I’d like to think that everything I write is one. There seems some evidence for the idea that we are changed by the things we create actually shaped by them. Ralph Ellison shares this idea. He says the novels we write create us as much as we create them. And Joseph Brodsky believes language has a life outside of us and uses the writer.

Language is absolutely mysterious in its relationship to humans and the things it touches.


Thanks so much Lily for your thoughts about poetry. I hope my readers will have lots of questions for you.

Book Summary: Lily Iona MacKenzie’s debut novel Fling!, a wildly comic romp on mothers, daughters, art, and travel, will be published by Pen-L Publishing in July 2015. The book should appeal to a broad range of readers. While the main characters are middle-aged and older, their zest for life would draw readers of all ages, male or female, attracting the youthful adventurer in most people. The heart of the book is how they approach their aging selves and are open to new experiences.

About Fling!: When ninety-year-old Bubbles receives a letter from Mexico City asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, lost there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing, she hatches a plan. A woman with a mission, Bubbles convinces her hippie daughter Feather to accompany her on the quest. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it.

Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey. The two women travel south from Canada to Mexico where Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their hilarious antics.

In Mexico, where reality and magic co-exist, Feather gets a new sense of her mother, and Bubbles’ quest for her mother’s ashes and a new man increases her zest for life. Unlike most women her age, fun-loving Bubbles takes risks, believing she’s immortal. She doesn’t hold back in any way, eating heartily and lusting after strangers, exulting in her youthful spirit.

Readers will believe they’ve found the fountain of youth themselves in this character. At ninety, Bubbles comes into her own, coming to age, proving it’s never too late to fulfill one’s dreams.

LilyMac_3-12-15hiresAbout the Author: A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in her early years, Lily Iona MacKenzie supported herself as a stock girl in the Hudson’s Bay Company, as a long distance operator for the former Alberta Government Telephones, and as a secretary (Bechtel Corp sponsored her into the States). She also was a cocktail waitress at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (and almost got her legs broken), founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County, and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities). She has published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, essays, and memoir in over 140 American and Canadian venues. Fling!, one of her novels, will be published in July 2015 by Pen-L Publishing. Bone Songs, another novel, will be published in 2016. Her poetry collection All This was published in 2011. She also teaches writing at the University of San Francisco, is vice-president of USF’s part-time faculty union, paints, and travels widely with her husband.

How To Reach Lily and buy her book:
Amazon Buy Link
Visit her blog at:
Her Facebook page:
And at Twitter: @lilyionamac





  1. Hi Madeline,

    Thanks for hosting me today. It’s a privilege to be a guest on your blog. I did want to make one correction, though. Fling! has already flung! It was published on August 1 and can also be purchased through my publisher Pen-L Publishing: I’m looking forward to answering any questions your readers might have.

    Lily Iona MacKenzie

    • Madeline Sharples says

      It is a pleasure to host you, Lily. I’ll make the correction. So happy that Fling! has flung!

  2. Crystal Otto says

    Thank you Madeline for hosting & Lily Iona for this lovely post.



  3. My goof! Typo in my comments above. The novel was published on July 1, not August 1!

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