How did you first come to writing poetry? What is it about the form that resonates?
Poetry has been a mode of expression present with me since childhood. I was probably first introduced to the formalisms of rhyming in Grade 2 and by my Grade 3 teacher to the haiku. From there, it’s really the unconsciousness in the music, in the act of writing a poem that has been continually interesting to me. And when combined with the imagistic dimensions, with the psychology of a turn, and how a poem can do so many things, there has been more than enough to keep me engaged with the form.
In adulthood, I really came seriously into poetry through music. I found myself reading a book of Johnny Cash’s poems (posthumously published, edited by Paul Muldoon) as well as turning from Leonard Cohen’s music into his poetry. I think it's the narrative authenticity and lyricism of music, specifically folk music, that blurs so well into poetry, for me.
How does a poem begin?
I don’t precisely know, but it seems to me it could be in seeing the world in a certain way, in a particular mindset, in a perception put to the page, somewhere in the interstices of the page and mind. I’m sure other people have said more interesting things on how a poem begins. But there’s this quote that I’ve been thinking about, which is one that someone recently tweeted. It’s this idea from poet Charles Simic that “a poem is a secret shared by people who have never met each other.” And so it could be that a poem begins when it’s shared with a reader, or in this case, an anonymous reader. A poem without any audience is something I do wonder about.
You’ve published poetry in numerous journals. Do you see your writing as a single, extended project, or a series of disconnected threads? Are you in the process yet of thinking about collecting any of your work into a manuscript?
My poems are connected by the immediate subjects that they deal with; which is to say that there are so many, multiple ways a poem can pull me. Sometimes it’s to the meditative, to the narrative or to the well of memory. So, in that sense I’m always collecting poems that could be poured into these different buckets. With this natural categorization, a manuscript develops more or less organically, albeit very slowly.
Have you a daily schedule by which you work, or are you working to fit this in between other activities?
A day job, a pandemic, young children. Writing fits in and among all of this, somehow.
What are your favourite print or online literary journals?
Who are some of the writers you are reading lately that most excite you?
Karen Solie, Rob Taylor, Raoul Fernandes, Kayla Czaga, Alex Leslie and so many, many others.
is a poet, writer, editor and busy dad living in Vancouver, BC on traditional, unceded Musqueam territories. A graduate of The Writer’s Studio Online at SFU, he has been published in various online journals. Michael is also the editor of Red Alder Review, an online publication focused on building connections between writers and the wider community. michaelwriter.home.blog // Twitter: @michaelwrites1