the best lies tell the truth

Sadye Scott-Hainchek: What has been your proudest or most rewarding moment as a poet?

Chris Bailey: I was in my mother’s kitchen with her, and she was cooking supper. It was pork chops and potatoes. This is fall on Prince Edward Island, right before I did any touring or anything, and we were at the table and the sky is clear out the west window above the sink. She read the book. She read it and it got her memory going and so she ended up telling me stories about growing up, about my siblings. Things she never really talked about before. Dad likes to talk about a lot of things and it’s usually him, if anyone, telling me stories about the past. Mom has a tendency toward the present in her storytelling. What happened today or yesterday. How my nephew’s hockey went, or cans of tuna are on sale here for this much. So for her to talk about a past I didn’t experience — a grandfather I never met, her childhood, a brother gone before I happened along, how things were in the family in simpler times — that was as much reward as it was gift.

Scott-Hainchek: Have you encountered any misconceptions about poetry that you wish people wouldn’t believe?

Bailey: There can be a belief that the poem is true to the point of documentary or the narrator is the writer. A shortened perceived distance. This isn’t a bad thing, really. I’m guilty of encouraging it and also have disliked people buying into it. If I’ve done my job right, you’ll believe everything written has happened or could’ve happened like this. The best lies sound like truth, or in some way tell the truth. Warren Zevon, talking about songwriting, said something like there’s no fiction and nonfiction sections in the music aisle. It’s the same for poetry.

- Chris Bailey, in interview with Sadye Scott-Hainchek over at The Fussy Librarian. You can read the whole thing here.

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