How to Interview a Poet

Your ever-inexhaustible interviewer Kate continues to harass authors in and around the internet!

This month’s victim – 2010 John Hirsch winner for Most Promising Writer, Ariel Gordon, who also just released her first poetry collection, Hump, and will be conducting a very important workshop via the Writers’ Collective – How to Write a Poem on Saturday, May 22, 10 am to 1 pm, at the University of Winnipeg! This workshop is very special therefore it’ll cost you - $15 for Writers’ Collective members/ $30 for non-members.

To register contact the equally, if not more so, inexhaustible Michael Van Rooy, Writers’ Collective Program Coordinator at [email protected] or by phone at (204) 786-9468.

Also, you have to check out Ariel’s hilarious blog – the jane day reader!

Onward to the interview….

Kate: Your first collection just came out last week! Such an exciting time for any writer. Tell us about your book, HUMP!

Ariel: Well, it’s mostly pregnancy-and-mothering poems but there’s also what I’m calling urban/nature/love poems. It’s firmly rooted in grumpy/frumpy Winnipeg and is nowhere near perfect but I think it’s the best I’m capable of at this moment in time.

I’m also happy to get these poems off my chest.

Kate: I bet! You also have two chapbooks out, can you tell us about those books and how the process of publishing chapbooks was for you??

Ariel: My first chappie was with Palimpsest – who’re now publishing Hump – in 2008. The second was with Rubicon Press out of Edmonton in 2009. Palimpest does full collections in addition to their hand-made limited-edition chapbooks while Rubicon only does chapbooks. Because the individuals behind them are different, the process was different for each one…

But I did launches for each of them, with cake and a lovely co-reader. And, for the Palimpsest chappie, I did a tour with that co-reader, Kerry Ryan. It was a bit ambitious to do a four-city tour to promote it but I wanted to and so I did. And Kerry and I managed to get some funding from MAC for same, so it wasn’t ruinous.

Both books sold out fairly quickly, which is/was gratifying.

Kate: No kidding, that’s a great accomplishment. Your poetry is so rich and inspired – so it begs the question – what inspires you?

Ariel: I have no idea what inspires me until I’m jerking on the line. And even then the hook can slip.

Kate: You seem to do so much –  event coordinating at aqua books, blogging, writing, mothering – what’s a typical day in your life like?

Ariel: I have a lot of flexibility in my life, which means that most every day is different. But predictably so, if that makes any sense. And when the routine is singing and I don’t have too many deadlines to meet, I get heaps of done. Other times I just get by.

Like most poet/parents or even just most parents, I suspect…

Kate: It’s the life I guess. I’m so curious about blogging, I’m so new to this and want to learn everything – how did you get into it? When did you start you blog – janedayreader??

Ariel: I started blogging in January 2005 on a dare. I’m several templates down the road now but it’s always been a place where I’ve shared poems-in-progress and photos and my writerly news.

Though I certainly didn’t need it when I started the blog, I sort of wanted to have a presence online as a writer. Which is why, beyond the odd complaint about how overworked I am (pore me!), I keep it mostly writing and publishing. So, no pictures of my daughter, once she came along. And no soiled laundry aired, ever.

All of that said, I did NOT expect to enjoy doing it so much. But then I said the same thing about Facebook…

Kate: Argh the temptress that is Facebook swallows up many a good working hour! So, many collective members are emerging writers trying to get out there, what would be your advice to these novice poets/prosers/rockstar wannabes??

Ariel: Keep going! There are MUCH worse things you could be doing with your time than writing poetry!

Slightly more seriously: Read and write as much as you can. Allow time to dream. Carry a notebook and write things down as they come to you. You will NOT remember it later. Go to readings. While editing your work, read it aloud so you can find any snags. Submit, but when you get rejections, remember why it is that you write.

Kate: Just one more Ariel, I want to start an ongoing poll where I ask everyone I know one question – I’m new to twitter too you see, so the question is, what’s your favourite book of all time and why??

Ariel: I’m bad at favourites. But I really REALLY like Robert Kroetsch’s The Studhorse Man. Such a dirty wonderful book!

Kate: Haven’t read it yet! But do have great love for the Kroetsch! Will have to check it out!

Thanks so much Ariel! Can’t wait ‘til your workshop!

Katherena Vermette

2 Responses to “How to Interview a Poet”

  1. Debbie Strange says:

    Hi Katherena:

    Thanks for Ariel’s blog information. You’re right, it is hilarious. I have a passion for photographing mushrooms too, so not only did I enjoy the writing, I also loved the photographs. I’ll have to let her know…

    happy writing,

  2. Katherena Vermette says:

    that’s great debbie! they are very lovely pictures!!!