Interviewing W.F.(Bill) Lantry (U.S.A)
Interviewer : Kiriti Sengupta (India)
Hello Sir !! This is Kiriti from India. I must thank and congratulate you for your generous contribution in the global anthology, Twist of Fate. I wish to ask you a few things, if you please allow.
Lantry: Thank you. I am glad to talk about this. I’ve seen two tornados in my life. One in Texas and one in Tennessee. The sky grows dark, and then, believe it or not, it turns green. The clouds are incredible. You can feel the energy swirling in the air. And then you hear the noise. There are many freight trains in the South, some of them louder than others. But this noise is louder than all of those. It’s real, and it feels as if it’s coming straight for you. You’d be shocked how small a human being can feel in the face of such forces.
Kiriti: You are a name to reckon with in the world of English Poetry. You are the recipient of numerous National as well as International awards for your poetic renditions. May I now ask what made you contribute towards the anthology ?
Lantry: When I saw the pictures, I remembered what my neighborhood looked like in Tennessee. And I remembered all the effort and trouble it took to get things back to normal. Even then we were lucky: our house was surrounded by numerous hundred foot tall hackberry trees. The tornado picked them up right out of the ground, roots and all, and dropped them across the yard, across the fences I built with my own hands, across the roofline. But at the same time, those trees made the tornado skip over the house. The neighborhood I saw in the pictures of Oklahoma didn’t have trees like that. I can only imagine how those people must feel.
Kiriti: Do you think Poetry will enhance the readership of Twist of Fate ? If so, how ?
Lantry: My wife, Kate, is a singer. She sings at Weddings and Funerals, the most joyful and most difficult times of our lives. People look to her to have the words when no one else has them. And those words, those lyrics she sings, are always in poetry. That’s the real role of poetry: poets give us words at a time when it seems as if no words will ever do. The moments when it’s most difficult to speak, the times when it’s most difficult to hear. That’s when poets have to raise their voices, even against the wind.
Kiriti: You could have donated cash in aid of those tornado victims. Do you believe that an anthology would offer better support to the affected people ?
Lantry: Every one of us has a unique gift. When that tornado hit in Tennessee I had an old friend who got into his pickup truck and drove over to my house with his chainsaws. He and I spent a week cutting up those trees and clearing the debris. That’s how I learned to run a chainsaw. That was his special gift: his knowledge and his energy, and his willingness to help. I wish I could throw my chainsaws in a truck and drive out to Oklahoma right now, but I can’t. This is my special gift. He taught me how to give it freely.
Kiriti: I don’t really know whether you have gone through the rough draft of the anthology which Stephen has posted in the group. May I ask you, would you treat the work as a collectors’ edition in terms of its literary value ?
Lantry: I haven’t had the opportunity to look at it. But I’m not sure I’m most interested in what we call ‘Literary Value.’ What really matters is this: a devastating thing happened. People stood up and lifted their voices. In solidarity and community with the people who lived there, they lifted their voices against the silence; they lifted their voices against the wind.
Thank you so much, Sir. I wish all of you a great success. Keep well.