The Toronto Quarterly

TTQ – What was your relationship like with your father growing up and in what ways did your father’s physical and mental health decline affect you at that time?

Kerry-Lee Powell – As my father’s physical and mental health declined, his memories of the war resurfaced unbidden, filling our house with anguish and horror. He became obsessed, possessed, lining the walls with books on war. After our mother left, he would sit weeping and open-mouthed for hours, erupting into rages and bouts of physical violence that often ended with him collapsing, strapped onto a gurney and born off in an ambulance. My brother and I ought to have been put into care, but we were loyal to him and looked after him when he was ill. You can do that as a child, fear someone and feel the utmost compassion. At one point he decided to write a novel and sat in the kitchen typing on his red Olivetti every morning. After he died we went through his papers, and like that moment in The Shining, read page after page of violent, misogynistic, schizophrenic text, intermixed with radio jingles and scraps of old songs. It was a glimpse into the void, an epiphany that belonged in a Beckett play. Sometimes I feel as though my work is an attempt to undo that wretched moment and all the wretchedness leading up to it, to make sense of that awful nonsense.

Darryl Salach interviewed me about my new collection, influences, and other related stuff. You can read the rest of the interview here.