Influences Interview Series with M Lynne Hayward

M. Lynne Hayward

As a light refresher, the Influences Interview Series focuses on how what you’re reading shapes what you’re writing. It’s a poetry recommendation followed by a less established poet to keep your eye on.

This week we’re cozying up with M Lynne Hayward. She’s picked Russell Edson as a writer who has personally influenced her style, and chose the poem “Counting Sheep” as a prime example of what he did with words that she finds so affecting.

Appears in The Tunnel: Selected Poems of Russell Edson available on Amazon.

Trista Mateer : So… Russell Edson? How did you come across his work and what particular elements of his writing would you say influence your personal writing style?

M Lynne Hayward : I was in an intensive creative writing program in high school. Russell Edson was one of the first writers we encountered who strayed away from traditional verse. Until I read his work, I appreciated the craft of poetry but I wasn’t impassioned by it. It wasn’t until I saw how he flattened magic and injected wonder into the mundane that I felt like I wanted to write poetry. I don’t emulate his form directly, but I was deeply informed by his blend of poetry and prose. He gave me permission for fantasy to flourish in my work.

Trista Mateer : He weaved fantasy and poetry together expertly. I could just be reading the wrong things, but I really don’t see that much in contemporary poetry. Was there anything about “Counting Sheep” specifically that spoke to you or was it just a poem you thought portrayed his specific style well?

M Lynne Hayward : The imagery still sticks with me and I read it almost 10 years ago. I still think of “He wonders if he shouldn’t rub them into a red paste between his fingers” every time I fire up the rice cooker. The simultaneous distance and curiosity of this poem is also something I identified with. I have bipolar disorder, so I have a dual perspective of everything depending on the time of the year. Both tend to get captured when I examine something in writing.

Trista Mateer : I feel like that simultaneous distance and curiosity is something you’ve achieved in the poem you’re about to share with us. Is there anything you’d like to say about it before we press on?

M Lynne Hayward : I wrote “Natural Disasters” as two separate poems. As I was going through my worst manic and depressive episodes respectively. As I worked on it, I kept thinking “what’s the worst thing that could happen to me” and the answer was “this.” So I started playing with the idea of the world falling apart in grand sci-fi fashion while the greatest problem in the universe was still my micro-drama. I really tried to transfer my dissociation into the words, so I’m glad that came across.

Natural Disasters by M Lynne Hayward

Last week…

Some drunk asshole dropped the moon
and it shattered all over the earth:
pox-marked glass shards from sea to shining sea.

The tides will recover
after Cthulhu rises,
but it fucked up everybody’s horoscope.

I press my ear to your wan stomach,
coy bubbles the only proof
you didn’t descend blonde from the heavens
to seduce me in my sleep.

The stars are due to fall on… Wednesday?
I’ll try to take the day off
to lay on the beach with you
and watch Aquarius pour into the ocean.


You kicked me in your sleep.
I kicked back.
You rolled over.

An even NPR voice called from the radio,
“Fire has consumed the Midwest
and we are next.”

I looked out the windows.
Asteroids and looters littered the streets.

I went to the kitchen and
dug through the freezer until I recovered
my cache of gin
the good stuff.

I thought of the lie I’d tell my sponsor,
“Don’t you think the end of the world counts a special occasion.”
I choked when I laughed
and the liquor wet my shirt.

I took the bottle to bed with me like baby.

Calm voices had given way to riot horns.
You snored
and I laughed again
and I couldn’t stop.
As the drizzle of meteor showers
gave birth to hell fire
I hiccuped and giggled
while you were consumed by sleep
and we were burned alive.

M is chronically bored. She cuts her ennui with internet addiction, screenwriting, spoken word poetry, flash fiction, game design, food, irregular sleep cycles, and lazy activism. M did a handstand once and almost fell off her bed. She never attempted to do that again. Last spring, M published a personal chapbook filled with lies (BAD TOUCH). She’s publishing a book of passive agressive odes before the end of the year.

Connect with her on Tumblr and BLK Proverbs.

Contributing Editor

Trista Mateer is a writer and poet living outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She believes in lipstick, black tea, and owning more books than she can ever possibly read. Known for her eponymous blog, she is also the author of two collections of poetry.