Interview with poet Kerry Ryan

Hello loyal blog readers – don’t you just love interviews with writers? I know I love reading them, and making them. Here’s another for you…

I got to speak with poet Kerry Ryan this month. She is launching her new collection Vs. at McNally Robinson on Thursday, November 4th, 8 pm and you should go! Check out her wonderful blog too!

(And let me just say, I HAD to use her Facebook picture just because it’s so darn cute!!)

Kate: “Hi Kerry, your second collection is coming out so soon! Congratulations! Tell us about Vs.!”

Kerry: “Thanks! Vs. is a collection of poems about my experience training for, and fighting in, a white collar boxing match in early 2009. I started writing the poems as a way to rationalize my decision to fight and help myself work through the training process. The poems explore the why and how of fighting, and also what it means to be a woman and a boxer, a wife and a boxer, a writer and a boxer.”

Kate: “You also have another collection that came out in 2008, and was shortlisted for the Lansdowne Poetry Prize, how does your new book differ from the first? Was the process different?”

Kerry: “Yes, The Sleeping Life came out in spring 2008. It’s about birds and sleeping and dreaming, so the subject matter is very different than this book, though I think readers will recognize the voice. The boxing poems demanded a tougher, leaner approach to language, so the new book is different in that way, too. I even used upper case letters! That was a first for me.

The process of putting this book together was entirely different than my first collection. With the first book, I was essentially taking about seven years of work and trying to jam it into a framework, find a story to thread it all together. With Vs., even though I didn’t know I was writing a collection at the time, it grew very naturally and easily. Because the poems are thematically similar, and all written in the same timeframe, it was much easier to find the shape for the manuscript.”

Kate: “That’s wonderful! Now, I know it’s a terribly generic question, but one I just gotta ask the poets – what inspires you?”

Kerry: “I’m most inspired by the details that make up my immediate environment: what’s growing in my garden or baking in my oven, a conversation I overhear on the bus, a bird outside my window, the people I know best.”

Kate: “I know you work full time and are an avid boxer, among other things I would imagine – how do you make room for poetry? Or, what’s a typical day in your life like?”

Kerry: “It’s always a challenge to find time to write – and do all the other time-consuming writing-related things (researching markets, preparing submissions, writing grant applications). I think of the actual writing as just one piece of being a writer. There’s also the reading, the thinking, and being part of the writing community. I do have a full time day job and try to keep a balance with all the other important life activities too. So, the writing comes and goes in phases. I usually try to find an evening or two a week to focus on “writing,” whatever that might mean at that time (new work, editing, research, etc). But, if I’m really excited about a project, it magically becomes possible to make more room for it.

For the past five years, I’ve taken part in the May Day Poetry Project. It’s a blog-based writers’ workshop where participants set a goal for themselves to write and post a certain number of poems over the month (the ideal is one a day). I like the discipline of it and those have been very productive months for me. There’s something about having a concrete goal, and a sense of accountability, that I find very useful.”

Kate: “Many collective members are emerging writers trying to get out there, what would be your advice to these novice poets/prosers/rockstar wannabes??”

Kerry: “Listen, read and trust your gut.”

Kate: “Awesome! Aaaaaand, my favourite question, the one I always have to ask, what’s your favourite book of all time and why??”

Kerry: “Ack! That’s a completely impossible question to answer! I’ll say In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje. Such beautiful writing and imagery, intricate storylines, precise details. It’s completely delicious.”

Kate: “I like that – delicious. I know exactly what you mean. Thanks so much for chatting Kerry!!”

Like I said before, you should go down to McNally on Nov.4th and help celebrate Kerry’s newest accomplishment. See you there.

Take care lovely writerlies! See you soon…

Katherena Vermette

2 Responses to “Interview with poet Kerry Ryan”

  1. Tweets that mention Interview with poet Kerry Ryan ::: The Writers' Collective -- says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RoomMagazine and Clélie Rich, Anvil Press. Anvil Press said: “Listen, read and trust your gut.” @writcollmb interview Kerry Ryan about Vs. her knockout book of boxing poems. #poetry [...]

  2. [...] by Kerry Ryan (i had the pleasure of interviewing her last year – check it out – here!!) and the marvelous this is a small northern town by Rosanna Deerchild! (click on their names for [...]