Lisa Richter Talks About Her First Book

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Like an Album

In 2017, Lisa Richter published her first book of poetry called Closer to Where we Began. The earliest poem in this book was written more than twenty years prior to its publication. Although the poems were written throughout the past two decades, the manuscript itself came together in less than six months. The poems are all very personal. Richter takes her individuality a step further with the cover of the book, her biggest inspiration: one of her mother’s paintings.

The poems in Richter’s book come from a lot of her personal experiences. Some of them represent the different continents that she’s lived on spanning over two decades. Some of the poems come from writing prompts, workshops, and her journaling practice. A couple of the poems are resulting from collaboration with other poets. In addition, some of the poems are “random bursts of inspiration” from visual art (including but not limited to her mother’s artwork), other poems, personal life experiences, and places that she’s travelled.

Richter felt the need to assemble her work and put a book out into the world. Through some encouragement from a few of her friends, who are like her mentors, she began to compile her poetry. This year and a half-long process was like assembling “an album where you think about the songs that you’ve recorded and the songs that you’ve done” and think of how they fit together, how they related to one another, and how she could group them together in a logical way.

The process of writing these poems was a difficult privilege for Richter. Some of the poems go back to her childhood and adolescence when her family was going through turmoil. As well, some of the poems describe experiences of when she lived in Israel during politically turbulent times. It was challenging for her because they also describe people that she’s loved and lost over the years. For her, writing each poem was like she was reliving each moment.

Richter describes the publishing process of her book as surreal. Her life has been strongly influenced and “irrevocably changed by poetry,” so she felt that it was amazing to receive validation by putting a book into the world. For her it was a thrill having her manuscript get accepted by the first publisher that she submitted to. And she still thinks it’s exciting to see her book out in the world, and being able to talk to writers she’s read and respected. She’s glad to be able to join that conversation while reading in different places with people she respects.

isa Richter’s advice to new writers is to always keep writing and to never doubt yourself. She says this because she doubted herself and she now regrets it.  She wishes that she kept reading and working on her craft. She advises writers to try their best to get past your inner critics that tell you that you won’t succeed because you’re not good enough.