Blogs

On the idea of a secret—a conversation with Jennifer Londry

Part 3:
Q&A with Jennifer Londry

Sandra Ridley: How do you integrate the direct and personal ‘I’ into your poetry? Or does the ‘I’ tend to be an ‘other’?

On the idea of a secret—a conversation with Rhonda Douglas

Part 2:
Q&A with Rhonda Douglas

Sandra Ridley: How do you integrate the direct and personal ‘I’ into your poetry? Or does the ‘I’ tend to be an ‘other’?

Rhonda Douglas: I have used “I” to speak as myself, and to speak through a character (as I did with Cassandra of Troy, in Some Days I Think I Know Things.) It depends on the work and what I’m trying to achieve. I’ve also used “you” to mean myself, to mean the reader and to mean a third character or a group of people.

I don’t shy away from the personal, and at some level I think everything is personal, even when framed from a character’s point of view. It may not be my own lived experience but it’s something I can at least empathize with enough to create from it.

On the idea of a secret (Part 1)

“The idea of a secret that will be revealed always results in one of two scenarios: death and destruction, or self-discovery and recovery beyond our wildest dreams of unification. And in the greatest of sagas, both at the same time.” Mary Ruefle

*

My brother came home from school to find all but one of his angelfish floating, belly up, in his aquarium. I killed his fish—it’s taken me over thirty-five years to say it. Truth has a way of surfacing. Of course, I didn’t mean to kill them, but lack of intention didn’t mean I wouldn’t feel shame when his fish drifted up. I still feel badly about it.

On Silence in Poems

“To reveal all is to end the story. To conceal all is to fail to begin the story." Robert Kroetsch, The Lovely Treachery of Words.

On silence

I grew up in a silent house, aside from the times when the silence was punctured with yelling. The crying was always quiet. The children did stay quiet—even when not crying—as best they could, to stay out of my father’s gaze. It was hard learned tactic. There is enforced silence and chosen silence—a malicious form of control or a necessity for survival. All of us know many manifestations and purposes. What of the silence of a silent house? What of the silence that follows the noise? What’s spoken and unspoken? Where do our chosen words come in—and what words? Why do we use them?

On the Handmade (Part 3): Q&A with Jennifer Still

(Part 3 of 3. I'm reposting the introductory text from Post 1 to set up the context for Jennifer Still's response.)

It’s been said that the hand-written letter is becoming lost to us, or that for many of us, it has already disappeared. I’ve heard too that longhand itself is no longer being taught in our schools. The physical nature of our hands is quickly adapting for work within the new digital realm. Small wonder that the word ‘digit’ experienced sematic drift; its emphasis of meaning shifted from ‘finger’ to the infinite zeros and ones of programming code. Our fingers came first; then we counted them. (Ah, but now, I’ve got your digits in my I-phone.)

On the Handmade (Part 2): Q&A with Christine McNair

(Part 2 of 3. I'm reposting the introductory text from Post 1 to set up the context for Christine McNair's response.)

It’s been said that the hand-written letter is becoming lost to us, or that for many of us, it has already disappeared. I’ve heard too that longhand itself is no longer being taught in our schools. The physical nature of our hands is quickly adapting for work within the new digital realm. Small wonder that the word ‘digit’ experienced sematic drift; its emphasis of meaning shifted from ‘finger’ to the infinite zeros and ones of programming code. Our fingers came first; then we counted them. (Ah, but now, I’ve got your digits in my I-phone.)

On The Handmade (Part 1): Qs and a response by Phil Hall

It’s been said that the hand-written letter is becoming lost to us, or that for many of us, it has already disappeared. I’ve heard too that longhand itself is no longer being taught in our schools. The physical nature of our hands is quickly adapting for work within the new digital realm. Small wonder that the word ‘digit’ experienced sematic drift; its emphasis of meaning shifted from ‘finger’ to the infinite zeros and ones of programming code. Our fingers came first; then we counted them. (Ah, but now, I’ve got your digits in my I-phone.)

Resurrecting Past Seasons

A note written for a Pedlar Press panel held last fall in St. John’s, NFLD, and in tardy response to a query from Robert Kroetsch:

I have a crush on Robert Kroetsch. I’ve had this crush for a very long time, and still do, and I’m disappointed with myself that I couldn’t properly answer the one question he asked me six years ago, in a dark country bar full of writers, in Lumsden, Saskatchewan. He asked if I wrote ‘political poetry’—in part, because I live in Ottawa and have a proximity to a wellspring of material, the politicos themselves, and that it would be a missed opportunity if I didn’t bring socio-political issues to my work. I answered him by saying that I thought all poetry is political, that writing itself is an activist act. I’d heard that somewhere. (Hadn’t I?)

Hello, my name is Diane! (Part 2)

Some say that exposure helps dissipate the stress for people with performance anxiety—that old adage which claims the more you do the one thing that provokes fear in you, the easier it gets to manage it. It’s battleground language, emphasising success or failure in the individual. Are you strong enough? Confront and conquer your demon and your demon goes away. For some of us, for me, this idea isn’t true. I wish it were true. For years, in different ways, I’ve had several public engagements—exposures—and have found no relief. Sorry to say. But we anxious types do learn to develop crutches where and as we can, the classic healthy and unhealthy ones.

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