Deanne Lundin '97 MFA published her first volume of poetry, The Ginseng Hunter's Notebook in 1999 for New Issues Press ( $12 paper, $22 cloth; available at Amazon.com). Her work has also appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner and other literary journals.
Lundin, who lives in Ann Arbor, was born and raised in Florida and has lived in Oklahoma, Boston, California, England and Wales. She recently met her birthmother and "surprisingly extended family" and has concluded that "the only people I'm not related to are those named Lundin."
For some years she was a songwriter/musician (she earned a master's in music from the Eastman School of Music, studying piano, voice and composition) and a bus driver. She has taught at UCLA and the University of Michigan, where she was a Hopwood winner. She is currently finishing a second manuscript of poems, a collection of stories and a PhD from UCLA.
Asked how a ginseng hunter became her poetic alter ego or narrator, Lundin said: 'I was born and raised in a weird little place in Florida that's been so inundated with New Yorkers, it's hard to find us crackers anymore. I suppose at the time, the ginseng hunter was a bit of an alter ego, but it's less about hunting ginseng than about what poetry is, can be, and what a self-a soul-is, where, and how. Which was a figure for me of wildness, of a refusal to be domesticated-ginseng worked for me since there's very little wild ginseng left, and I was feeling the whole lyric enterprise was uncertain.
'And I guess the ginseng hunter is a poetic self, suspicious of easy answers and the commodification of the spiritual into swanky little bottles that smell good, when no one who's really tried following a spiritual path would say it was easy, pretty-colored or even that it smelled nice. Well, ok-I love the incense, too. But I think the spiritual happens on public buses and in hospital waiting rooms and under railway bridges, not just in a clean, well-lighted place with your M3 plugged into your ear so you never have to meet the real.
'The original title for the manuscript was "theriac," which was a fifth-century snake oil panacea with about 40 ingredients. But then I realized it was really about the search, and all the mistakes we make, which is the history of pharmaceuticals; and that seemed about as good a metaphor at the time of something I felt other people were also looking for-an authentic spiritual path, one that wasn't an inherited ideology through a virulently secular intellectualism. But the bankrupt cynicism of the market commodifies everything-especially remedies for pain. And so I suppose the book's an articulation of protest against that.