Artist Spotlight: Cara Lorello Releases Her First Book of Poetry, “But At Least You Were Beautiful”

For poet Cara Lorello, composing has become a daily necessity. But, it was not always easy. Almost held back in first grade for poor reading skills, it took a few months of tutoring before Lorello learned to love the written word.

“My teacher wanted to hold me back, but mom wouldn’t,” she said. Digging around Pullman a bit, Lorello’s mother — an avid reader herself — found a Washington State University grad student willing to help.

Flashcard games and daily journaling exercises got her back on track. While reading Shel Silverstein’s books, however, she eventually fell in love.

“That was my lightning moment,” she said, recalling how soon after she suddenly came top of her class in reading.

“Learning to read poetry didn’t just teach me how to read better,” she said. “It taught me memorization, oration – how to pause dramatically, put more force behind some words for others – the raw power and effect of verse…how a few one-line words can evoke such strong emotions and images.

“I really like novels, but poetry is a different animal. The power you feel when you read it…no other type of writing does it better.

Lorello studied English in college; when the tuition fees required for one course of education proved too burdensome, she changed courses. After graduating, Lorello found work in various small news publications before eventually finding employment in local government.

Today, outside of her day-to-day work as a legal assistant in the district court office, Lorello still finds time to write wherever she can.

“I write whenever I have a free moment, work breaks, lunch breaks, in the evening before I go to bed on the weekends,” she said. “A lot of times things start out as scribbles and then end up on my laptop.”

Lorello’s work, both poetic and documentary, has been featured in several scholarly and online literary journals, including Noble Gas Quarterly, The Book Smugglers Den, Vending Machine Press, SlushPile, and the Spokane-based poetry anthology, ” Railtown Almanac” (Sage Hill Press).

After decades of writing for work and pleasure, Lorello has released her first collection of poetry, “But At Least You’re Beautiful.”

“It was something I had been meaning to do for years, thinking I would never be able to,” she said.

But the pandemic, along with all its struggles, gave her the motivation to buckle down and make it happen.

After several months of editing and consulting with fellow poet Thom Caraway – a former Poet Laureate from Spokane – Lorello found Dancing Girl Press, a small independent Chicago publisher, at just the right time.

“I was floored when she said yes – I thought I would have to send cold mail for years,” she said.

For budding writers, Lorello offered the following advice.

“You write because you have to…and mostly for yourself,” she said. Read as much and as often as you can. “If there’s a local writer in your orbit, ask them questions. It takes a lot of courage. But, the alternative is to do nothing and stay in the dark. So don’t be afraid to show off. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. There is only your path.

Lorello will read a selection of poems from “but at least you’re beautiful” at the Broken Mic party at Neato Burrito on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

“But At Least You’re Beautiful” is available at Auntie’s Bookstore and online via Dancing Girl Press.

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