Vincent Lyons lives in Australia and is a semi-retired husband, father and grandfather whose poems have touched many hearts (and have done very well in the FaithWriters Writing Challenge!). Join interviewer, Lynda Schab, as she chats with Vincent about his poetry, his family, and his goals for 2010.
LYNDA SCHAB: Tell us a little about yourself and your Christian testimony.
VINCENT LYONS: I was born in Galway, Ireland into a farming family. My mum died when I was only two years old, so I was very close to my dad. Though our family was quite religious I was never satisfied. After spending six years in boarding school, I went to London and got involved in political activism, which almost got me in trouble. On my return to Ireland I met Jacinta, and she helped to straighten out my thinking. We got married in 1973 and one year later, with one little child, we decided to come to Australia, as times were difficult at home. In 1985 I got saved, and Jacinta shortly afterwards. It was and is the greatest thing that ever happened in our lives. God gave me a great desire to study the Scriptures and it is still my great joy.
LYNDA: What was the profession you chose to go into?
VINCENT: Though I ventured into many different areas in my working life I never found a career that I took to. I was quite happy in most things but I never missed them when I left. Mostly I worked out doors driving machinery and installing water mains and sewer lines and underground cables etc. I bought a franchise to sell ice cream to retail outlets and that was a real challenge. I developed a liking for the product, which didn't help the figure much.
LYNDA: I have to inject here that I know exactly what you mean, as my husband works for a dairy company and frequently brings home ice cream! Definitely not good for the figure. So what does it feel like now to be semi-retired?
VINCENT: Being semi-retired means I still work but don't get paid. Our three daughters always have some jobs for me to do and because of my varied work background there are quite a few areas where they find me helpful.
I also lead a home fellowship and have generally to teach two or three times a week so that takes a fair bit of preparation but I don't find it a burden in the least. Jacinta and I also do some hospital visitation.
LYNDA: It's clear that your heart is in poetry. When did you first discover your love for writing – and poetry, in particular?
VINCENT: Well I always loved poetry. At school I loved to read it and loved the teacher's explanations. I had a really good English teacher and he helped develop my love for it.
I wrote very little in my youth, but during the years before I got saved I began to do more and more. It was a poem I believe God put on my heart that was one of the things that led to my salvation. The lyrics used to keep running around in my head. In my early days most of what I wrote was about Ireland and political type stuff.
My granddad, Dad and most of his sisters and a brother all wrote. I had two aunts who went to the U.S. and I have some of the poems they wrote. They were quite good in their own "write".
When I got saved I decided that the main thrust of my poetry was to be as a declaration of the Gospel. I thank Him for whatever little abilities He has given me and endeavor to please Him in all my efforts.
LYNDA: Have you had any of your work published?
VINCENT: I have self published two booklets of poems and photographs. One is called "Reflections" and the other "Rays of Son-light". I have used them as an avenue for witnessing to family and friends and they have found their way to many far-flung places. There is no charge for them, as God has provided the necessary funds to produce them through some wonderful people He has brought across our path.
LYNDA: You quickly worked your way up the FaithWriters Writing Challenge chain, from Beginners to Masters. How has the Challenge helped your writing?
VINCENT: Can I start by telling you how I found FaithWriters? I used to post some stuff on another site and a lady from Arizona, Linda Wright, commented on them and advised me to post on FW. When I went to the site I discovered that the FW Australian conference was scheduled for a few weeks later in Penrith which is the next suburb to where I live. I took this as a confirmation that this site was for me. Then I realized that I knew Deb Porter (FaithWriters Administrator – read her FaithReaders interview here: http://www.faithreaders.com/featured-author-details.php?id=3) We had gone to the same church in the past and I had met her at a birthday party some months before. Double confirmation!! So here I am!
As for getting to the Masters level of The Challenge, no one is as surprised as me. I find it really helpful to have to write to a particular topic, especially as my aim is to try to incorporate something of the Gospel into it. I am not very technical in my writing and I am learning through the good poets on the site to work on that. I think a lot about the subject and then basically if it happens, it happens. There is a discipline in The Challenge that helps me and also I am keen to know how my stuff measures up against others. There are many great writers at FW and I am honored to be in their company. Thank you FW!
LYNDA: Do you have a favorite poem or one that touches your heart in a unique way?
VINCENT: I have always loved "Christ in Creation" by Joseph M Plunkett(an Irishman) and also "Barbara Frietchie" by John Greenleaf Whittier". I always loved John O Brien's poetry and Robert Service.
Perhaps the best poem I have ever read that really spoke to me is "The Man of Sorrows" by John Darby.
My favorite of the ones I have written is posted in the General Submission section and titled "Discarded Shoes" (http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=85478). It has very special memories for me and is completely true. Of my Challenge Entries the one I like best is "Martyr" (http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level3-previous.php?id=32305), though it didn't place.
I also purchased a second-hand book called "Grace in Winter" which is poetry by Faith Cook based on the writings of Samuel Rutherford. It has been a source of inspiration and joy to me.
I could go on and on but I better not.
LYNDA: Tell us about your family.
VINCENT: Jacinta is my wife of thirty-six years and has been and is a blessing beyond anything I could ever have hoped for. I thank God for her.
We have three daughters, Aoibhinn(Aiveen), Sinead and Niamh(Neeve). We have seven grandchildren and are involved quite a bit with all of them. We love our family gatherings and thank God for all of them. We have no other family in Australia but have many in Ireland and some in England and the U.S. We have travelled back many times to Ireland to visit and our children and some grandchildren have wonderful memories of those trips.
LYNDA: What do you like to do for fun? Do you have any unique hobbies or collections?
VINCENT: I am a keen golfer and will always accept the invitation to play. Golf is the nearest sport I know of to poetry. Good golf is poetry in motion, but I'm afraid I'm not real poetic on the course. My handicap is twelve at the moment. It is also an excellent place to interact with sons in law and grandchildren and when I play alone it is a good time for thinking and formulating some poetic ideas. I often carry a notebook and pencil. I am an avid reader of good Christian teaching books and love to browse in second-hand bookstores for old Christian books. I suppose you could say I write poems for fun, too, and amuse my grandkids from time to time with some ones for special occasions. Jacinta and I have a caravan and love to tow it around this sunny country when we get a chance. We have already done one four month trip to Queensland.
LYNDA: What do you hope to accomplish, both with your writing and personally, in the next year?
VINCENT: I hope to grow in my writing ability especially in relation to meter and I would like to try some different poetry methods like Jan Ackerson has been teaching (Jan's Master Class: http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=67). I hope to produce another booklet. My main aim is to be doing what The Lord has for me and to do it well, to be a faithful teacher of Scripture and to be a helper to all my brothers and sisters in Christ and a good witness to the world at large. A couple of EC's would not go astray either! Also I am looking forward to meeting up with other FWers at the coming conference in Penrith .
LYNDA: Thanks, Vincent, for taking the time to talk to me. I have no doubt we'll continue seeing your name come up in the Writing Challenge. Best wishes to you as you continue on your writing journey.
To read Vincent's poetry, view his FaithWriters profile here: http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=34262&P=3 and visit his blog at: http://vincentlyonsden.wordpress.com
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