At 91, Linn Bayne is just getting started. She published her first volume of poetry in 2016. She got inspired when going through old papers and found a note from a professor, “…you answered your exam in a totally lyrical fashion.” As she read through the prose in her journals, she realized that some passages were indeed lyrical! Her first poems, drawn from these journals, were reconstructed into poetic form. Linn says that the world is full of too many words and likes poetry because every word is so precious.
Our idea for this issue was to choose just one of Linn’s many poems. Good luck with that! While reading through her work, I gave Linn a call to see if she might share more about herself. I asked if it was a good time to talk, and she said sure, she was just doing a little reading. As a long-time member of the Questa Library Book Club, I already knew that Linn was a bibliophile. As a fellow book lover, I couldn’t resist asking her what she was reading, and was not surprised it was Joseph Chilton Pierce, one of her favorite authors, whose writing bridges science and spirituality. She described him as a genius of innovative thought. It takes one to know one, right? And I like the phrase “You gotta be it to see it.”
Linn Bayne is a pretty innovative thinker herself. She laughs as she describes the charmed life she was born into and the turns she has taken as “pretty nutty” for a Westchester debutante. Her Connecticut upbringing led her to boarding school and then Vassar College, which she left before graduating to get married. Her first husband worked for the US State Department, and by the age of 21, Linn had traveled to many far-flung places. The couple lived in Saigon for a year; in 1951 North Viet Nam was still defended by the French Foreign Legion.
After divorcing in 1964, she lived in Rome, Italy for 12 years, where she met and married her second husband. They traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. In Jerusalem, she lived in a hostelry down the hall from the great Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and author of The Night Trilogy. The couple came to Taos on their honeymoon, and camped in the Rio Grande canyon; she can now see that exact camping spot from out her window where she lives now, in Lama.
At the age of 48, Linn went back to school and earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature and then her master’s in library science. She got a job she loved as the editor of a nationally syndicated newsletter, where she learned to use a word processor. Her uncle first gave her an Olivetti typewriter at age 16. “I was in heaven!” Linn remembers. She now uses a computer and email but still loves and misses typewriters. After five years at that job, she left to care for her ailing husband. After he passed away, she began a rich and rewarding career as a librarian in New Haven, Connecticut.
A few years before retiring, she had visited Taos on a ski vacation. The one day that the weather wasn’t great, she took a drive north to explore. When she got to Garrapata Ridge, she knew she was home. She saw a for-sale sign in Lama, called the realtor that evening, met him the next morning, met the owners the following day, and on the spot sealed the deal on what is now her property. Since then, she has no longer felt the urge to travel and has left town just once in 27 years!
Linn continues to write, and current events often inspire her work. Moved by the pain and suffering in the world—and also the joy—spirit sparks her. The words come easily, and she simply writes them down. She now has five chapbooks of poetry: The Song of Kuan Lin (2016), Songs from the Great Forest (2018), Songs from the Great Mesa (2019), Songs from the Laughing Buddha (2020), and Songs from Planet Earth (2021).
Linn acknowledges her friend and publisher Barbara Scott as being a great help and inspiration. If you are interested in Linn’s books, or would like permission to reprint, address all inquiries to Scott Group Publishing, PO Box 2275, Taos, NM 87571. Or contact them at (575) 758-4846; firstname.lastname@example.org
Linn Bayne lives on a mountain in northern New Mexico, where even in her tenth decade, she still learns a lot, forgets a lot, and loves a lot.