Interview with Lorelei Bacht

Lorelei Bacht is a poet from France, who recently started writing again after moving to Asia, making two beautiful children and failing two marriages. Her current work focuses on such themes as aging, motherhood, infidelity, and finding oneself as a nearly middle-aged woman.

A few details about yourself.

I am a proud “citizen of nowhere,” a person of complex European heritage, born in France, educated internationally, residing in Asia. My main accomplishment has been to raise two beautiful little people. I have only recently started writing and publishing again after a decade-long hiatus, and I am currently basking in the rediscovered pleasure of putting the world into some kind of order on paper. My current work focuses on gender, motherhood, marriage, and approaching the old age of forty. A few of my poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Open Door, Litehouse, Visual Verse, Visitant and Quail Bell. Other musings in words and/or sketches can be found on Instagram: @the.cheated.wife, @the.cheated.wife.writes and @lorelei.bacht.writer

What does being an exophonic writer mean to you?

Growing up, I discovered that I could use language not only to communicate, but to keep secrets. I would keep a diary in “the other language”: English when I lived in France, French when I lived in America. This led me to reflect upon the role of language in the formation of thought, as there are entire parts of my personality that only exist in one language. I also developed a keen interest for comparing, contrasting and translating literature and poetry in various languages. I have found that writing in another language opens up new possibilities, new paths to follow, constraints that actually prompt creativity. It creates a space of playful discovery and accidental beautiful. 

What do you write? What is your writing process like?

I write to prevent implosion. To create a temporary space for order, freedom, beauty, where I can make sense of the world and rest for a little while. I also write to pin things down, to explore difficult and painful experiences, to process them, and perhaps help others make sense of their own hardships. I write in a hurry, little scribbles on bits of paper, or often, directly into my phone, when I struggle with sleep. I work in short bursts, with a sense of urgency, and do very little editing. 

What’s the last book that made you cry?

I am currently rereading Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of great beauty, told in an invented language. I could spend the rest of my life reading this book again and again—and perhaps, one day, writing poetry in that strange, haunting vernacular. 

What advice would you give to other exophonic writers?

Do not think of your mother tongue as a hindrance, but as a treasure that only you can bring to the table. Embrace English (or whichever language you are using) with application and delight, but without abandoning your heritage. There are stories there, traditional forms, rhyming patterns, ways of counting syllables, different approaches to poetry and storytelling that you alone can share with non-exophonic writers. 

Read Lorelei’s poem for Litehouse

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