My Writing Process – Blog Tour

What am I working on?

I’ve got a bunch of projects in late stages. These include my first full-length manuscript of poems, a chapbook that Apt 9. Press will be publishing later this year, the web series “Other Men.” Once some or all of these projects have begun to see the light of day, I’ll be ready to move onto new things.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t think there’s anything I bring to the table that no other writer brings. The most anyone can hope to do, probably, is bring a unique combination of things to the table. In terms of poetry, I just hope to write good stuff that at least a few people will be glad to have read.

Maybe I have a slightly different attitude when it comes to screenwriting. Maybe, with “Other Men,” I am actually motivated by the thought that myself (and the rest of the team) can make something that does differ from what’s already out there. If you’re legitimately curious about what I mean, you can watch me babble in this interview.

Why do I write what I do?

“It takes guts to know some happiness / & not make a poem about it.” That’s from The Brave Never Write Poetry by Daniel Jones. I write poetry because I am not brave.

How does your writing process work?

There are periods of my life when I’m inclined to fall in love with certain words or combinations of words. It isn’t important what the words are, it’s just important that I’m falling in love. It can be stupid stuff, like the phrase “do it to it,” or the word “essential,” or even dumber stuff. If I find myself being drawn to any words at all, I know that I should be putting time aside to write poems. So I do that.

The question I still struggle with, though, is, how do I get myself into that mode? I never enter it the same way twice. What I’ve come to terms with, in the past year or two, is that if it isn’t going to happen, it isn’t going to happen. Really and truly. Poetry is an impossible full-time job for me. (I take a lot of comfort in the fact that most of my favourite poets were/are not all that prolific.)

If I’m not in that particular mode, I try to at least consume all sorts of nutritional art (books, readings, good tv shows, museum exhibits, all that stuff, yum yum), in hopes of activating something in my brain. I also try not to beat myself up about it.

* * *

I was supposed to “pass the torch” and ask three other writers to participate in this survey. However, almost all the writer blogs I follow have already participated, and also, I ran out of time. I feel bad, so here are links to some of my favourite writers’ blogs. Some of these people did the survey and some did not. They’re all worth a visit.

Amanda Earl
Jeff Blackman
Cameron Anstee
Justin Million
rob mclennan
half-assed crafts (jesslyn delia smith)
I Am A Visitor Here (David Emery)
Film Title Review Blog
 (Jenn Huzera)
seed and pearl (Rachael Simpson, who invited me to do this survey in the first place. Thanks Rachael!)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lime Kiln Quay Road (Second Printing)

above/ground press has reprinted my chapbook Lime Kiln Quay Road. First published in May 2011, the book is a long poem about the time I spent living in a hamlet called Blaxhall, in Suffolk, England.

The cover image is a detail from a work by David Gentleman that appears in the Full Circle Editions reprint of Ask The Fellows Who Cut The Hay by George Ewart Evans. A Welsh-born writer and broadcaster, Evans moved to Blaxhall in 1948, residing with his wife in the schoolhouse. The schoolhouse would later be repurposed as a youth hostel; I was a member of its small staff for the summer of 2010, during which time the earliest of these poems were written.

To get your hands on a copy of Lime Kiln Quay Road, you can visit above/ground’s website, or come to any event/reading of mine in the near future, where there will surely be a little pile of them at the merch table.


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A bit of press for “Other Men,” and how NYC went.

Check out my interview with the production team of “Other Men!” Apologies for the cowlick:

In other news, I just got back from a little trip to NYC, where I was a featured reader for two events in support of Best Canadian Poetry in English 2013. It was a wonderful trip — lots of street vendor grub, lots of above-zero temperature, lots of amazing taxidermy at the Museum of Natural History.

2014-03-06 13.41.46

The readings took place at the Lillan Vernon Creative Writers House, and then at The Corner Bookstore. Myself and eight other anthologized poets read to crowded and attentive rooms both times. Molly Peacock and Heather Wood, the editors of the book, did a great job of making us feel warm and welcome.

The Corner Bookstore

Outside the Corner Bookstore

The window display at the Corner Bookstore was probably the coolest part of the whole trip. That’s our book!

2014-03-07 17.29.10

It was a lovely little trip, in support of an equally lovely little anthology.

One more thing: above/ground press will be reprinting my 2011 chapbook Lime Kiln Quay Road. Not too long from now, the books will be ready for purchase for anybody who missed out on getting a copy way back. The reprinting is a real honour.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

toronto has amnesia

Originally posted on the urban geographer:

Amnesia 1

Amnesia 2Amnesia 4

Trees are also the holding-place for a community’s collective memories.



Cities have different relationships with their memory.

Amsterdam holds its history close to its heart. Its famous canal belt is celebrated by Amsterdammers, and nothing can be built that deviates too much from the aesthetic of 17th century Dutch architecture.

Sometimes, cities can go too far with holding onto their memory, preserving their historic centres to the point they become essentially dead — frozen in time and preserved as museums of themselves. I’ve heard people speak about central Rome this way, and Bath in the UK.

And sometimes cities can go too far the other way — not paying credence to their history at all, leading to the demolition of beautiful and important buildings, and general disregard for history, culture and ecology.

At times, I think Toronto falls into this latter category.

In fact, I think Toronto has cultural…

View original 24 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Other Men,” a web series

So I wrote a web series, called Other Men, and the trailer was released today, for your viewing. Give ‘er a look, and if you like it, please take a moment to share it with others. For more information about Other Men, follow us on Twitter and Facebook!


How I wound up writing a web series:

The characters of Other Men originate from a short film I wrote a while ago. I showed the script to filmmaker friends Illya Klymkiw and Stephanie Coffey, both of whom generously (and patiently) showed me the ropes of writing for the screen. Many, many drafts later, the three of us realized that this project would work best as a web series. Stephanie would direct, and Klymlove Incorporated (Illya & Adam Klymkiw) would produce. This would be the production company’s second web series, after the hilarious Dick Sibblies, PI.

I got to work writing. Lots of revisions took place with feedback from the director and the producer. The result was seven really promising episodes of internet-distributed television that the three of us were eager to set to film.

Casting took forever. (Did you know that casting takes forever? I did not know that and now I do.) But we snagged incredibly talented actors for the primary roles, all three of whom seemed born for their respective parts: Nathan Carroll, G Kyle Shields, and Jonathan Nathaniel. The characters I made up while sitting at my desk suddenly had actual bodies and faces now, and that was cool. We assembled an equally-talented (and enormous) crew, and we made a plan for procuring funding. Launching this trailer is a big part of that plan — so I hope you like it enough to share it. And then we got down to filming. So that’s how this happened.

The first episode will be released in the coming months! Cast and crew interviews will be coming forth sporadically until then.

The more you view/share this trailer, the more likely it is that we’ll get the support we need to see the whole project through. Rather than cramming my confidence in the project any further down your throat, though, I’ll let the trailer speak for itself. Thanks!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amendments, etc.

Here are a few things by other people that you should look at today.

First there’s a new song from Ben Vaughn. Ben has been setting older poems of mine to music for years now, and I plan to write a more in-depth post about his and my creative relationship in the near future. Consider this a preview. This is a song called “Amendments” and maybe you’ll like it as much as I do, so press play.

Then there’s the newest issue of Ottawater, which is now a ten-year-old. Lots of amazing poems from Ottawa souls of past and present. From Matthew Walsh’s “A Joni Mitchell In Pieces:”

If you burned through
the good book, slow
and smooth, could you
forget snakes can’t stand
or that a brilliance in a heart,
can relax in the dark, in the blue
what it was, it will be, to marvel
in smooth rooms, and listen
to see a sun turn
away from a throat
simply glowing.

That’s all for now. Have a great week!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Black Friday Reading

The Puritan is throwing a party tomorrow (Friday the 29th), 7.30 at The Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton St). I’ll be reading, and so will many other people, like Bardia Sinaee, Laura Clarke, Rob Benvie, Liz Howard, R. Kolewe, Camille Martin, Jim Smith, Kilby Smith-McGregor, and Aaron Tucker. $5 cover.

The other thing you have to do this weekend is visit Steven Temple Books (489 Queen St West) during their clearance sale. It’s an incredible place, with lots of tall shelves and necessary ladders. The clearance has been taking place all week, but the Canadian lit section, at least, still had loads of gems today. And the markdowns are terrific. It’s very sad for a bookstore to close, especially one that speaks so clearly and characteristically of a time before I figure the best way to celebrate is to support while you still can. It all shuts down on Saturday. I scored three great finds — poems by Atwood, prose by PK Page, and a Marian Engel novel (unfortunately I didn’t have the funds for the gorgeous Preview Copy of Engel’s “Bear” pictured below).

Probably the least problematic cover of "Bear" to ever exist

Probably the least problematic cover of “Bear” to ever exist

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment