Blogs

Guttersnipes: Georgia Webber

Guttersnipes: Elisha Lim

Guttersnipes: Réal Godbout

Words & Curds: Jonas T. Bengtsson, author of A Fairy Tale

On April 16, I met with Danish author Jonas T. Bengtsson, whose newest English translation, A Fairy Tale, has just been published by House of Anansi. He was in town for the IFOA Weekly readings. We visited Smoke's Poutinerie, and upon my suggestion, we both ordered the 'Hogtown' variety (topped with mushrooms, sautéed onions, bacon, and pork sausage). We talked about the fears of fatherhood, murderous furniture-makers and Lego. I finished my poutine. Bengtsson did not. Though it may seem unbelievable, the interview has been edited for length.

Guttersnipes: Mimi Pond

Residential Zoning: Comics, Poutine, and the Publishing Ecosystem

Here's hoping you don't learn anything about me this May.

My name is Evan Munday, and if you've heard of me at all, it was probably through my past publicity work at venerable Canadian indie press Coach House Books, where I worked for eight years. I also write a fairly morbid and (maybe?) funny series of books for young readers (ages 9 to 12), The Dead Kid Detective Agency. But all you need to know right now is that I'm the Open Book Writer in Residence (W.I.R., to the kids) for May (Pet Cancer Month), and I'm planning to talk as little about me, my writing, and my thoughts on writing as possible. Sorry. I'm not a big sharer.

TIMELESSNESS

Over the course of the WIR experience, I’ve often used my morning writing time to work on that day’s blog. This is sacred time when I shut the door on all distractions, from phone calls to my cat Iris Belle’s whimpers. I need this time to find my focus; it has to be retrieved each morning. Everyday life might look, on the surface, fairly quiet, living in a small town, just my wife and I, but it ends up most days being fraught with freelance jobs, editorial work, classes to prepare, other people’s poems to find a way into and out of again. Then there are emails, bills to pay, housework, errands. I can only think as far as the next responsibility once I’ve left the holy space of my office. I cease being a poet and become a house owner, husband, citizen, editor, teacher, performer, etc.

QUESTIONS NOT TO ASK WHILE FACING A BLANK PAGE

Is enjambment supposed to be pronounced with a French accent?

What do you do when you unpack a line and can’t figure out where you thought you were going in the first place?

Is a metaphor just a simile with the “like” or “as” taken out?

Is it true that some great poems were written in ten minutes?

How many times have I used the words ”wrists” and “shimmer” over the course of the last 40 years?

Didn’t I already write this a month ago?

Should you really keep reminding well-meaning friends that they’re called stanzas, not paragraphs?

If everything is a metaphor, then what’s a poem a metaphor for?

Why do words like “bucolic” and “trenchant” always blow their own tone?

How come a good poem sprouts flaws the minute you read it loud to someone else?

SHAKE IT UP

Range is something to aim for – a poet’s ability to go multiple, whistle one minute, moan the next. Sound like a basset hound, then go for a high-pitched squawk of geese. Try tender, then bold; try nothing at all, the void in all its glory. Find your own voice, by all means, but take Louise Gluck’s advice: once you’ve got it down pat, shake it up, try something new. Get rid of the tics and tricks. Take chances on being oblique. It’s not a bad thing to get lost every now and again.

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