Saturday, May 15, 2010

12 or 20 questions: with Renee Rodin

I was born and raised in Montreal and in the late 60's moved to Vancouver where I still live and work. My books are Bread and Salt (Talon) and Ready for Freddy  (Nomados).

1 - How did your first book or chapbook change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
It was a huge shock, I had no idea I'd feel so exposed and raw and it took me a while to grow more skin.I still get anxious whenever I put writing out. - even answering these questions. But I get over it faster. It has to do with fear of judgment.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction? 
I'm not sure what I came to first, probably personal prose.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
It takes me forever to start something new until suddenly I'm in it. It's slow and fast, in spurts with long periods between. I'm always re-writing but whatever was at its core to begin with is usually still there, though it may not look the same.

4 - Where does a poem or piece of fiction usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
It starts with a strong experience, event,  memory,  something that I can’t contain unless I write about it. So far I’ve  been more concerned with individual pieces, a concept, a line, a word, rather than with a “book”.  But the shapes have to fit when you're putting a book together.
5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I’m almost sick with nervousness before every reading I do. Afterwards I'm high that I survived.. If I get any feedback on my work that's a bonus.

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
I want to keep it real, on my own terms.  I don't look for answers because I'm not sure what to ask. Basically I think we’re always grappling with the same things. All that’s really different now is the speed with which we can find out about what’s happening all over the world.  But that’s a gigantic change, especially politically.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
Susan Sontag talked about the writer as "witness" which I like. Though I don’t try to be objective, on good days I'm a funnel.

And the environment has become a source of great concern and consternation because what corporations are doing to our food, water and air is threatening to change our DNA. Rita Wong is doing important work on that now.
8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
An editor who can keep your voice and also be tough is a gift.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
Karl Siegler once told me to let the work dictate the form.
10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to fiction)? What do you see as the appeal?
I like the difference in space, being able to move from one form to another. Poetry takes up less space but it creates more.
11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin? 
I don’t have a routine. Often my best time is shortly after I've awakened and had breakfast and am still slopping around. But I’m erratic.
12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
I try to make something else when I can’t focus on writing. And try to remember that stalling or stopping is just part of the process. 

13 - Betty or Veronica or Archie or Reggie? Drive or fly (or sail)? Laptop or desktop? 
Veronica was more interesting,  I felt sorry for Betty but she bored me,  I distrusted Reggie and found Archie kind of boring too but wished he’d get it together.

I don’t have a car so I take the bus or walk. Sometimes I bike ride. When I have to go long distances, I fly but if I could afford to, I’d take the train.

I use a laptop so I can move it around in the house.
14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art? 
Aside from reading,  I like films, television, visual art, music, poetry readings, trees, silence, etc.,  Not necessarily in that order.

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?   
I’m nuts about engaging novels and  punchy short stories and poetry that hurts to read because it’s so perfect. I never know whats going to take hold in me so it all kind of blends together. Sometimes I’m writing, sometimes I’m not.

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
I’d like to get more focused. Keep going. I don't have a game plan.

17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
I can’t imagine not writing but also might have been a therapist or a film editor.

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
It was easy, natural, fun. No big deal.

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
There are tons of great books around. I just finished Soucouyant by David Chariandy. The last great film I saw was I've Loved You So Long,
20 - What are you currently working on?
Personal stories/ essays, not sure how to label them. It's going to be a book for Talon. 

No comments: