Poets in Profile: Colin Fulton
Life Experience Coolant (BookThug) is Colin Fulton's debut poetry collection. The four long poems that make up the collection have been drawing praise, including Tim Lilburn's assessment of the pieces' "raw realism where everything could happen at once".
We speak with Colin as part of our Poets in Profile series, which digs into the inspiration, process and obsessions of Canada's most talented and innovative poets.
Colin tells us about some unlikely sources of inspiration, the existential process of deleting a poem and how poets are like macarons.
Can you describe an experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a poet?
I don’t think I’ve become a poet! But I do think the things that led me to poems were certain varieties of reading, moreso than writing, experiences — and the things that keep me close to poetry have lot to do with the kinships I’ve found with other people who happen to care deeply about this particular kind of reading we call poetry.
What is the first poem you remember being affected by?
‘it’ by Inger Christensen was an incredibly formative text for me. As was ‘Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking’ by Tan Lin. Individual poems rarely matter as much to me as a book can, and both of these works dismantled what little surety I previously had about poetics. I doubt I would have stayed with poetry without them.
What one poem — from any time period — do you wish you had been the one to write?
I’ll admit that I was pretty jealous when I read this amazing piece that was published on an online journal called The Claudius App a little while back: http://www.theclaudiusapp.com/4-crot-pistols-raha-spott.html (Very NSFW)
What has been your most unlikely source of inspiration?
The comment sections of Youtube videos that have their comment section disabled. Forgotten theoretical economic systems such as distributism and participism. Instruction manuals for becoming psychic and telepathic, but only those written by admitted frauds. On that note, corporate leadership and communication manuals (such as: “leaders are those best able to communicate, and an act of communication is an act of leadership.”) Old travel magazines that talk about great vacation opportunities in places now destroyed by war or ecological collapse. Computer games. Seasonal labour. Not that any of these strike me as unlikely sources for poetry.
What do you do when a poem is not working?
If I feel a piece has failed I actually just delete it. Is that weird? I don’t actively try to forget a failed and deleted poem but I usually do. If however I later remember the rough outline of that piece and realize how and why I was wrong about it failing, I might and rewrite it from scratch at some point, but that happens rarely. Sometimes though I’ll realize that the rewrite-from-scratch is a failure too and have to be ok with being wrong about being wrong. I delete those ones too. Yet, a few of those deletions I’ll recall, years later, even more vaguely, and they’ll get re-rewritten out of my shame for having been wrong about being wrong about being wrong. Of course they’ll have nothing in common with the original, but I tend to force them to bear the brunt of my unforgiving judgement nonetheless. Therefore, sometimes those ones fail too, and rather than put them in some folder somewhere in hopes of finally learning from my mistakes I trash them as soon as I get even an inkling of displeasure, wrong about being wrong about being wrong about being wrong. With this knowledge I can do nothing but sit here, bathed in a dread sweat, unable to write or know when this or that echo of a failed poem will burble back up into memory, whether on my deathbed or three hundred thousand reincarnations from now. Help me. (Just kidding — poetry can’t fail.)
What was the last book of poetry that really knocked your socks off?
Two books — the collected writings of Francis Picabia, and the collected writings of Marcel Broodthaers, both of them predominantly known as painters — have taken up a lot of my attention in the last six months And in the last week or so, Love Dog by Masha Tupitsyn.
What is the best thing about being a poet….and what is the worst?
If the statement “I am a poet” is structurally identical to the statement “I am a macaron,” then it’s either an unverifiable statement or macarons are sentient. And I’m totally ok with the latter. So extrapolating from that, the best thing about being a macaron is the complete lack of demands made of you, and the worst thing about being a macaron is that people stick you in their mouths and eat you without remorse.
Colin Fulton was born in Calgary in 1987 but grew up in Nova Scotia. More recently he spent time in British Columbia while studying at the University of Victoria where he graduated with a double major in Poetry and Political Ecology, as well as a minor in Philosophy, Fulton currently lives in Montreal where he is persuing a Master's degree in English. Life Experience Coolant is his first book.
For more information about Life Experience Coolant please visit the BookThug website.
Check out all the Poets in Profile interviews in our archives.