Cornelia Hoogland invited me to be a part of the Writers’ Blog Tour. Cornelia’s most recent book is Woods Wolf Girl (Wolsak and Wynn) poems that explore the story of Little Red Riding Hood and one of my favourite books of poetry for the language and how the original story is given depth and context. Woods Wolf Girl resonates in a psychological exploration of the Red story coming to it from many directions. Cornelia uses poetry and language to intensify the experience.

I’ve invited poets Ariel Gordon, press pall at Palimpsest Press, and poet Arleen Pare to join the Writers’ Blog Tour.

Ariel Gordon’s most recent book is Stowaways (Palimpsest, 2014) a collection of poems that are half survival guide and half invasive species list. Of Stowaways Julie Bruck writes “These are nervy poems that refuse to behave themselves. They are something to celebrate.” Over the last year and a bit Ariel and I have been talking poetry and publication via FB and discovering our many connections.

Arleen Pare’s most recent collection is Lake of two Mountains (Brick Books, 2014) which “maps, probes and applauds the riparian region of central Canadian geography that lies between the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence Rivers.” Arleen has written a lyric novel called Leaving Now and a fantastical exploration of the world of bureaucracy in her Kafkaesque novel Paper Trail which won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Arleen’s language and the way she builds a poem or a line is intense and kinetic so that as a reader you constantly stop, reread, start again, read further, go back, read again.

What am I working on?

With the publication of As if a Raven, my third book of poems, I’m letting my energy and focus shift to travel writing. In 1999 my husband and I cycled for three months, over 4000km, through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia after having lived in Japan for two years. I’m writing that story. The story involves a few complications – one of them being my type 1 diabetes - so we had insulin to keep cool and blood sugars to control while we cycled up to 150km a day.

I’m also working on a series of linked poems that create a mystery. The poems are based on the Persephone myth, and titled Death of Persephone. Though I’ve worked on the poems in As if a Raven for years, I am still drawn to the exploration of how humans use animals as symbols. There is still much to explore in the mythology, symbolism and the complicated interstices between humans and the wild things of the world.

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How does my work differ from other work in its genre?

Part of the joy in writing is the play of language, the poetry, by which I mean that space where image and sound, language and meaning intersect.  I want to give myself permission to have moments of lyric in the memoir so that each chapter begins with a short lyric paragraph that allows for some internal exploration. For years I’d been writing in the present tense but have shifted to the past to allow for the lyric moments, as well as for a deeper exploration of the struggles of poverty and wealth; of have and have not.

Why do I write what I do?

I follow an image or the beginnings of an idea and often that image or those ideas relate back to some imbalance I find in the world. Birds as symbols of weakness and lack of forethought in the bible; my privilege of cycling for three months through a developing country where most lived hand to mouth; a patriarchal myth that explores the fantasy of taking a young maiden and making her an old uncle’s play thing in Persephone’s myth. All three of these subjects relate to imbalances, to things I can’t quite get my head around, and so I begin to explore them in image or through further symbols, myths and philosophies.

How does my writing process work?

I think it works quite slowly, distractedly, flitting like a small bird from image to idea to sound and line to image and further from idea or closer to it perhaps to philosophy to dream back to image. It is difficult to know how the process works, sometimes as if by magic and sometimes knee deep in mud, fists holding hard around thorny brambles.

Links in the Literary Procession