I often use humour as a mechanism to encourage the reader to keep reading, but humour is like Sriracha for me, it has a very strong taste. If you’re not careful, it can drown everything else out. I want humour to be just one mechanism inside a bigger thing, like, it’s funny but it’s not only funny.
I think the writing that interests me most these days is the writing that pushes past the persona rather than leaning on it. And when I do that kind of thing, like write from a more emotional, less jokey place, it isn’t like people are jarred so there must be a shared feeling to it, one source from which it all comes.
Every aspect of life is “poetic”. Each day wasted to Facebook, each sip of Starbucks, each trip to Wilkes-Barre-Scranton. But, the cultural things that are not poetry which inform my poetry are, in order, literature that is not poetry (fiction, history, etc etc), music, art, television, movies, the internet, texting, sports, tourism, politics, dining, and shopping. The artists who are not poets who have influenced my work the most are Alice Cooper and David Letterman.
In general, I like leaps between forms and genres. In my final year in high school, my calculus teacher allowed us to do a final project where we approached any math topic of our choice in any way we chose. So I went down to the art room and worked on a painting of the Archimedean spiral. But an interest in the combination between the textual and visual started, I would say, as early as children’s books. It’s a visible engagement with language that I think gets lost when we grow up and start reading novels that have no pictures. The visual seems to be a natural place to turn in poetry.
I guess I like the idea of blurring the lines between what we call genre and what we don’t. I always find it strange, for instance, to see a writer like Neil Gaiman or Ursula K. LeGuin ghettoized on their own “science fiction” shelf in bookstores. The whole question of what is or is not “literary” also entertains me. I read all kinds of fiction and nonfiction, both within and outside supposed “genres”.
Writer and performer Catherine Kidd is a familiar face on the Montreal literary scene, but now brings her work to far-flung venues in places like Whitehorse, Edinburgh, Cape Town, and [More…]
For me, it’s just a question of how to most fully and appropriately explore a particular observation or idea. Sometimes, for example, I’ll be working on a poem and find that it is actually the beginning of a story or even something that needs to get worked out with the help of outside sources, as with an academic paper. My approach in all cases is to follow the thread of an idea as best as I can according to the constraints of the form, all the while remaining, on the one hand, as open as possible to the connections and the diversions that necessarily arise, and, on the other, trying never to lose sight of the project’s inspiration or goal.
I read loads of old newspaper strips: Little Orphan Annie, Popeye, Gasoline Alley, Moomin, and really anything else I can get my hands on. I feel privileged to live in a golden age of classic cartooning reprints. I was sad to recently read the last volume of the collected Terry and the Pirates, by Milton Caniff—but I’m about to jump into his follow-up strip, Steve Canyon.
“My career path is typically atypical, which as far as I can tell is the norm among literary translators. By and large, people who translate literature have all kinds of meandering in their lifelines and in their professional lives as well. I eventually got a degree in literature from the University of Ottawa, and then a master’s at Concordia in creative writing. My thesis was a collection of poems. But then there’s the whole informal education which I think is as important, if not more, for my work as a translator: being raised by working-class immigrant polyglots, my involvement in semi-professional theatre and music in my late teens and early twenties, the very personal process I went through acquiring a deeper knowledge and love of the French language and civilizations, and the people who were my teachers, my friends, my intimates throughout that process. That’s the kind of thing I mean by ‘informal education.'”
Creative nonfiction is the term of choice these days. It certainly didn’t start that way, and there are still several other ways of referring to “that way of writing” which readers might also be familiar with: literary nonfiction, literary journalism, narrative prose, you get the idea. We’re trying to find a way to nail this baby, the “baby” being, in the short form of the definition, the application of literary techniques to documentary material.