James Lindsay: A quote from a 2012 National Post piece you wrote ("Canada has too many poets and not enough Critics") keeps coming up whenever I read something new about you. Four years on, do you still feel the same way? And if so, how does it affect Canadian poetry?
Jacob McArthur Mooney: I don't know if I feel more or less attached to that statement than I do any other broad four-year-old generalization that I may have made. I'm tempted to selfishly pitch it overboard because I've largely walked away from most of my former critical practice. I would say maybe that in the interim I've expanded the realm but kept the essential notion of that idea. Canada has too many poets for the number of people it has interested in poetry, and committed to helping it thrive. A good critic wants to help poetry thrive, even if they're grumpy and hard to please. I've slowed down my critical work but tried to keep up an activist's commitment to the public expression of the art, through other avenues the most obvious of which is spending my old review-writing time running a reading series. I still think we have a lot of poets who, when they say they're committed to poetry they mean THEIR poetry, their craft and consideration. And of course they should be committed there, because writing is difficult and requires a great amount of self-attention. But I still think that everyone should spend some time looking out, too, at the public craft or the public performance or even just "the public", any public. That part of that old provocation feels true.
- Jacob McArthur Mooney, in interview with James Lindsay over at Open Book Toronto. You can read the whole thing here.