2022 was a year of two halves here at Roll of Nickels. The first half of the year was largely devoted to quotes on writing. I added 50 more in total this year, largely gathered from three of my favourite reads of 2022: Resonance: Essays on the Craft and Life of Writing, 50 Years of EVENT Magazine: Collected Notes on Writing and Poetry in Person: Twenty-five Years of Conversations with America's Poets (I'm still waiting for the writing-craft anthology on writing succinct titles to writing-craft anthologies...). You can read all 700+ (!) of my quotes on writing here.
|We're throwing out the old |
year here at Roll of Nickels!
The second half of the year was devoted to my interviews: another ten this year, two of which were holdovers from 2021 (print publications which finally appeared online). I've included all of those in the year's highlights, below!
I had two other interviews published this year, one with Steven Heighton in January for The Walrus (you can read that one here), and one with Matt Rader for in November for Arc. Both of those were excerpts from longer interviews, and I hope to publish them in full here on the blog at some point in 2023.
I also managed to squeeze in posts on new books by David Ly, Frances Boyle, and Otoniya J Okot Bitek, and tributes to Kate Braid and Matsuki Masutani.
2022 was a welcome quiet year for me, my family life largely keeping me from writing - no new books, and few poetry publications outside of haiku magazines. I was able to set time aside to write a number of essays on writing, though. It was something new for me, which I found I quite enjoyed. Essays appeared in the aforementioned Resonance
, Canadian Notes + Queries, the League of Canadian Poets poetry month blog
, The Tyee, The Tyee again
, and Brick.
That last essay, in Brick, is the most personal for me - a reflection on what Steven Heighton taught me about life and writing. Steve's sudden death in April shocked me, as it did so many, and even now hardly seems real. I was so glad I was able to talk with him in-depth about his writing for our Walrus
interview, something I'd considered putting off for one more year until my time freed up (needless to say, it didn't). The issue
only just came out, and if you get a chance to pick up a copy, I very much encourage you to do so. (It also features a tribute to Steve from Karen Solie, which Brick has posted online - it can be read here
. And a heck of a poem about swans from 2022 interviewee
Sadiqa de Meijer.)
On a lighter note, last year I wrote that 2021 was "the year my internet silliness spilled over into the real world." That continued in 2022, when my faux outrage
over being excluded from The Plum Review,
a UK "This is Just to Say" parody anthology, resulted in my last minute inclusion
, Silliness levels went off the charts when my "This Is Actually More Of A Comment" jack-o-lantern inexplicably garnered over 3 million views on Twitter (shared between me and a UK author who stole the image
and then pretended everyone was doing it). After JK Rowling retweeted my image, I got to have a little fun hurling the pumpkin off my balcony
, to boot.
Ok, enough preamble. Here are my favourite posts from the year:
January 2022: To Show Up For Others: Writers on Kate Braid's Mentorship
"I was terrified of the creative writing classroom. Kate's warmth and rigor as a mentor taught me to be an engaged peer. She taught not just to respond to poetry, but to show up for other writers. To let the collective knowledge of the classroom lift us all up as poets. To this day, being taught to value my sense of belonging within literary communities has been a lesson even more powerful than being taught about craft itself." - Amber DawnJanuary 2022: What Trickles Down the Line: An Interview with Ellie Sawatzky
"I think something that I’ve learned both from taking care of children and writing poetry is that some things just don’t make sense. Anyone who’s ever spent time around children knows what it is to ultimately answer a line of questioning with “I don’t know why, it just is.” It can be very humbling — and existentially terrifying — to admit that you don’t know something, or to acknowledge that there are multiple contradictory truths. In childhood so much is unknown and there are so many possibilities. As we get older things seem to narrow... To me, poetry is a space that allows adults to ask questions the way children do. So it’s not so much about “making sense” as it is about wondering." - Ellie SawatzkyFebruary 2022: A Congenial Barrier: An Interview with W.M. Herring
"Retirement brought with it the wonderful gift of time: time to walk slowly, to listen carefully, to contemplate; time to consider a stray thought or to research an event or historical figure; time to daydream; time to wordsmith over a mug of coffee for as long as it takes. In retrospect, I needed time to observe, absorb, and declare before I could produce even the shortest of poems. Until I had that time, I had no idea the writing that would emerge." - W.M. HerringMarch 2022: Suspension, Some Dread, A Lifeline: An Interview with Neil Surkan
"I love poems that end with a near-resolution, or a statement that makes sense in a “peripheral vision” sort of way (like, if you look a little to the left you can almost glean the rationale). [Jack] Gilbert is a good example: so often, the thrust of his poetry verges on familiar sentimentality, but then he frays convention to its limit. His speaker’s personal grief transforms into sprawling, savoury, wonderful existential terror. In line with Gilbert, I try to make my poems’ music resonate in the holes left by withheld pieces. Micro-devastations. Clapper-less bells. The “click,” for me, happens when I get a hunch that the last line couldn’t be anything other than what it is, even though I never saw it coming: half-confusion, half-satisfaction, a distant cousin of comfort." - Neil Surkan
March 2022: A Gift of Mystery and Many Hands: An Interview with shauna paull
"My practice is rooted in a kind of deep listening, which I fail at a lot! John Berger says that art is a conversation between the maker and the materials. When I work with language then, there is a waiting and listening. And a reverence for where the text is heard in the body and where I think it wants to arrive on the page. This is partly to respond to the music of the text which I am hearing, which can be done syntactically, yes. But for me, allowing the text to find its place on a page is a part of letting go of authorship, which is important to me in the context of the noise and individualism of our world." - shauna paullApril 2022: A Woven Basket with Others: An Interview with Isabella Wang
"In the story of what I know about my family’s ancestral history, there are chasms of intergenerational narratives lost with my grandmother, lost in my forgetting of language, that I long to fill. I translate, but the untranslatable is ultimately what gives me the momentum for poetry — the trying; reaching toward a horizon that always ends up blurry, in metaphors with a double-edge." - Isabella Wang
April 2022: Admiration, Applause, Adoration: An Interview with Arleen Paré
"I started by writing with only Etel Adnan in mind, meaning she was the object, but as I added the titled poems, and as the project grew, I knew it was broader, for and about all lesbian poets, in the same way that former women’s and lesbian movements were aimed at and for all women and lesbians. It began to feel more political and yet still very personal. In the way of the old second wave movement saying, “The personal is political.” And how could it be otherwise?" - Arleen ParéApril 2022: My Body Knows More Than I Do: An Interview with Jónína Kirton
"When I first entered recovery, I thought that one day I would arrive at normal. I would be healed, and all would be well. That never happened and eventually I began to see the problems with my desire to be “normal” — it was never the right fit for me. I could see that many of the more successful members of my family were boxed in by religious beliefs and colonized thinking that never allow them to feel the freedom that comes with just being human. They were living proof that being judgemental — having the scorched earth thinking that comes with the colonized way of life — burns the one who is judging just as much as the one they judge. Seeing the difference between the way they were with each other and the way my Métis family would tease each other (in a good way) about their faults helped me understand that it is much kinder to myself and others if we accept our imperfections." - Jónína KirtonApril 2022: Rolling Down a Hill With Your Brain on Fire: An Interview with Andrew Chesham and Laura Farina
"I think the main thing I learned in editing this book is that the “life” of writing and the “craft” of writing are profoundly interconnected in a way that is at once cosmic and intensely practical. For a long time, I’ve felt that I’m in this whole writing business for the days when writing comes easily and it feels like you’re rolling down a hill and also your brain is on fire. Do you know the feeling I’m talking about? All of a sudden you’re finding all these connections and you have a moment of "OH! That’ what I’ve thought about this thing the whole time!" - Laura FarinaApril 2022: The Border Terrain: An Interview with Sadiqa de Meijer
"Before I became a parent, much of what I lived and believed was grounded in a sort of communal struggle: I was against things (like patriarchy and racism and poverty and environmental degradation). I took part in protests and organizing and talks, and that was good and important work. I’m still against all the same things, but with the sense of being responsible for someone small and new, I felt an urgent question—I wanted to know what I was for, what I could pass on as things to believe in. The Che Guevara quote goes “…the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love,”—but his preface to that is “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that…” and I believe I’d unconsciously been placing more weight on that first phrase. It was protective; a layer of cynicism over the vulnerability of feeling love and grief for what was under siege. And that has turned—I can still be a marvellous cynic, but my emphasis has shifted to the side of that love, and to risking myself in its name, whether in a playground interaction or a broader, structured campaign." - Sadiqa de Meijer
October 2022: A Real Donnie Brasco Situation: An Interview with Shaun Robinson
"I gravitate to the inelegant in a poem. I like the pathos of a metaphor that swings for the fences and doesn’t quite connect. I like a poem that deliberately misunderstands a phrase or contradicts itself or forgets who its speaker was. “It’s important to get things wrong,” according to my poem “Trivia Night.” By which I mean, partly, that I’d rather be rough and messy and adventurous than small and tidy and perfect." - Shaun Robinson
December 2022: Matsuki Masutani on Writing
"I know more than the words about these poems." - Matsuki Masutani
I've got a bunch more new interviews coming your way in 2023, as we blow past 100 total (currently at 99!) and begin inching our way towards 200. I doubt I'll hurl any gourds off my balcony, though only time will tell.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, all!