“As a writer, as a reader, as a feminist, I recognize that fairy tales and a great of fantasy is often inherently conservative, reproducing cultural norms that are troubling, if not abhorrent. I went to the Philippines when I was eleven years old, a rich uncle paid for my father and I to stay in a fancy suite in the Manila Hotel, and I’d never seen such luxury before. While my father was out bar-hopping, I laid on a four-poster bed pretending I was a fairy princess in a castle. Later on I went for a walk, at the time the local officials in Manila had put up billboard-sized panels all over the tourist areas to block out the surrounding countryside. But if you went up and peered through the cracks, you saw these endless vistas of poverty and squalor, the shanties and clothes all the same colour as the surrounding mud. That crude method of concealment, those glimpses of squalor, the selfish relief I felt at once again closing the hotel room door, those experiences have stayed with me. One of the reasons that fairy tales enchant is that they tell the story of our selves, our innermost desires and primitive urges, the hope that we will somehow be chosen or saved, plucked from an otherwise formless sea of suffering and desperation. I wanted, in these stories, to lay bare both the allure and deceit of those narratives.” Read the rest of this Canadian Notes and Queries interview here.
“Many of the poems in Inheritance are addressed to a muse-like figure who bears only a slight resemblance to the man I knew as a child. I wanted to retrieve a father from the chaos of his mental illness, to honor him and meditate upon the causes of his suffering. I very much had ‘Father’ with a capital F in mind when writing this collection, not least because his private experiences resonate strikingly with the dominant myths surrounding masculinity in western culture: those of war and heroism, hubris and self-sacrifice.m a paragraph.” An excerpt from a one answer interview with Canadian author and critic Alex Boyd.
An excerpt from “In conversation with Sina Queyras” at Lemonhound: “My task was pare the poem down to its barest elements, try to attain, to borrow a phrase from Plath, ‘the illusion of a Greek necessity.’ I wanted to strip away as much extraneous detail as I could to show that the poem wasn’t only about my father’s tragedy but about how grief is handed down in memories and in song. I think, too, that a formal poem engenders its own sense of inevitability. I wanted the rhymes to be uncluttered, but at the same time to toll and echo like bells, to resonate the way my father’s traumatic memories and suicide continue to resonate in my life. One of the great things about art is that grief needn’t be banished or ‘cured’ or disavowed, but can instead be given its full due.”
Excerpt from an interview about fiction techniques with Stefan Krecsy at The Malahat Review: “Joseph Brodsky writes of Hitler as a “Michelangelo in reverse,” and it strikes me that there are many ways in which the “faceless entity,” often masking itself as progressive and populist, works against the humanist philosophies that flowered during the Renaissance, something that feels evident in the paintings of de Chirico, in earlier twentieth century art photography where humans are dwarfed by Gargantuan slabs of modernist architecture, and even in the classic Western, where the diminutive human form is often pictured against an immense landscape.”
“It strikes me that this is what a lyric poem is in the end, a love song to the culture. And I think that all our stories and myths bear the scars of trauma. In a broader sense, I’m interested in humanism. I’m skeptical about art and its purposes and aims. It strikes me that we too often celebrate self-expression and creativity over what might help to ease suffering on a larger scale. I don’t mean that art should moralize. It’s one of the most rewarding forms of enchantment. But if I was compelled to define its relevance, I would say it’s the best means by which we can both create the world and understand the world as created –by our own perceptions, values and ambivalences.” 12 or 20 Questions with Rob Mclennan.
“Time is warped and buckled by PTSD, where the past comes scarily to life in the present, and to the sufferer shows no signs of ever disappearing. I feel that poetry, more so than other art forms, is able to express the music of our deep interiors where tenses shift and thoughts interlace, resurface and repeat like refrains.” An interview with Daryl Salach at The Toronto Quarterly.