Getting to Know Lyd Havens & Their New Book, I Wish I Wasn’t Royalty

When did you first encounter poetry? How did you discover that you wanted to write poems? 

I had a writing teacher in middle school who really loved poetry, and urged me to keep writing outside of school after he found out I was going through some really dark personal difficulties. I mostly kept my work to myself until I was fifteen, and started competing in poetry slams. At that point in my life, I was lonely and feeling like nobody cared what I had to say. Both writing and performing poetry showed me otherwise.

Do you have a writing routine? A favorite time or place to write?

I’ve mostly been writing for school since January, but I typically write in the late morning/early afternoon. Typically, I write a draft on my laptop, then copy it down by hand—this helps me see where I want to revise, and typos. Then, I’ll write up a new draft on my laptop. This sometimes turns into a cycle of typing, writing freehand, typing again, and so on. I can write pretty much anywhere, but my favorite places to write are libraries, my parents’ dining room table, my bed, and near the Boise River.

Where do your poems most often “come from”—an image, a sound, a phrase, an idea?

A lot of my poems start with an image that’ll pop into my head as I’m going about my day. Last month I was making simple syrup and found a black speck in the pot, and the phrase “seeds in the sugar-water” immediately came into my mind. I wrote a first draft while waiting for the sugar to dissolve. I once spent an entire history lecture trying to write a poem because I thought of the phrase “rattling of names” while the professor was talking about all the ways children died on the Oregon Trail. I’m definitely someone who will stop whatever I’m doing to get a poem down before I forget the image or phrase, which can be both a good and bad thing. (Apologies to that professor.)

Which writers (living or dead) have influenced you the most?

So, so many: Ocean Vuong, Anne Carson, Hanif Abdurraqib, Ross Gay, Mary Ruefle, Robert Hayden, Aria Aber, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Ilya Kaminsky, Joy Harjo, Frank O’Hara.

What excites you most about your new collection?

First, that it’s so unique. As corny as it sounds, poetry is basically the love of my life, and I grew up playing all kinds of card games, so when I was asked to be a part of it, I was just so genuinely excited. And it means a lot to have a platform like this for writers with bipolar. The stigma is still very real, and I’ve found that I usually have a hard time writing about it. Sometimes I don’t know if I even have the words to describe my experiences with it. So, I’m beyond grateful to Catherine, Taylor, Jaz, John-Francis, and everyone at Game Over Books for making this happen. 

Can you tell us about your favorite card in the deck?

The 10 of hearts, which depicts the line “i fall under the lullaby of the current” from my poem, “one in two parts.” I absolutely adore Catherine’s visual interpretation of that line, with my the underwater and going downstream. And while it isn’t a face card, I can still tell that it’s supposed to be me by the hair on the person in bed. It gives me chills, and I just love the shades of blue throughout the illustration

What was the process of creating a poem or revising a poem that could function in this unique form?  

I wrote “one in two parts” about two years prior. When Catherine reached out to me about the project, I combed through the poem line by line, and edited to accommodate the 13-line/card formatting. It was so long ago that I don’t remember the exact process, but I looked at what images and metaphors were the most powerful and important to the poem as a whole, and just trimmed unnecessary descriptors and filtering. It was already a pretty short poem, so that helped! 

one in two parts

they call me rapid. water in the winter. 
fish stuck under the manic of me, gaping and slowly crimson. 
2 hours of sleep and i want to kiss the most typical of mouths. 
my hands are searching for what doesn’t feel real to me.
my mom says my laugh will change during an episode. 
i ask my therapist how to distinguish mania from nighttime, hypersexuality
from biology.
too many comparisons for my body: guilt. loose change. an unfinished eulogy. 
again, the frozen river: trout beneath the becoming and the risks. 
i fall under the lullaby of the current. 
i taste blood. i tap at the ice. 
i feel my lungs peel back like citrus 
and realize there is no such thing as reliable. 

Purchase I Wish I Wasn’t Royalty

Lyd Havens is a reader and writer currently living in Boise, Idaho. They are the author of the chapbooks I Gave Birth to All the Ghosts Here (Nostrovia! Press, 2018) and Chokecherry (Game Over Books, 2021), as well as the co-author of I Wish I Wasn’t Royalty (Game Over Books, 2020). Their poems have previously been published or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. They will graduate with a BFA in Creative Writing from Boise State University in December 2021. 

Catherine Weiss is a poet and artist from Maine. Their poetry has been published in Tinderbox, Up the Staircase, Fugue, Okay Donkey, perhappened, Birdcoat, Bodega, Counterclock, petrichor, Hobart After Dark, and Flypaper Lit. Their chapbook-length poem, FERVOR, is out with Ginger Bug Press, and their debut full-length collection, WOLF GIRLS VS. HORSE GIRLS, will be published by Game Over Books in June 2021. More at”