UNO’s Reading Series Begins with Lisa Fay Coutley


September 12th, 2017

Photo Credit: Danelle Buyarski

Omaha, NE—UNO’s Writers’ Workshop Reading Series invites poets and writers to Omaha to give the community a chance to hear today’s leading voices. Past guests include Tobias Wolff, Diane Ackerman, John Cheever, and Charles Bukowski. The season begins this Wednesday with poet and UNO professor Lisa Fay Coutley.

Coutley has a book of poetry on shelves, Errata, as well as a Chapbook, In the Carnival of Breathing, and she’s recently finished a new collection called Tether.

“As a writer a poem should allow me to make a discovery, so when I go to a poem or when I go to a collection of poems, I’m hoping that my ideas about the world or just daily life will be challenged or I’ll receive some new perspective on the everyday things—love, grief, whatever, family,” Coutley said. “Robert Frost said that if a poet doesn’t make a discovery while writing a poem then the reader won’t either, and I really believe that and so I’m always hoping to learn something new and be challenged.”

Coutley’s poetry has often considered personal relationships, sometimes factual, sometimes fictional. She’ll be reading some poems from Errata, but mostly new and some unpublished poems.

“Tether, the second collection that I’ve just finished is not as much [autobiography]. There are some poems that are rooted in an autobiography but for the most part I became really interested in the Apollo astronauts when I was working on the PhD. I remember listening or reading transcripts of an interview from the Apollo astronauts when they were headed to the moon of course they thought that going to the moon was like the most important part of their mission until they looked and they saw Earth there dangling in space, so small and so fragile and in so much darkness, and it gave them a whole new perspective on the planet and their lives and their relationship to it. So in the second book I guess I’m still exploring relationships but I really wanted to try to figure out how you could gain that sort of distance from yourself in order to gain proximity in the same way that the Apollo astronauts saw the earth in a new way by having moved away from it.”

Coutley is still active in writing, and she continues to shift her focus to new themes.

“The third collection is in the works. I can’t think that much about it yet other than that the trajectory of the books seem to be moving inward each time, like zooming in a little bit more each time. In the third collection, it seems I’m more interested in exploring the body as the host and the relationship of host in various ways of thinking about it—w hat it means to be a host, to host, or symbiotic relationships or predatory relationships—but the body as host to disease, again probably addiction anxiety.  There’s such tension in our country. There’s such tension inside people. There’s so much sickness, so much sadness, so much that feels uncontrollable always I think I’m really interested in things we can’t seem to get a grip on or that we just can’t control.”

Hear Lisa Fay Coutley this Wednesday, September 13 at 7:30pm in UNO’s art gallery. For more information, look up UNO Reading Series online.

Coutley Reads “On Home”

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