Sara Peters was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. She completed an MFA at Boston University, and was a 2010 to 2012 Stegner fellow at Stanford University. Her work has appeared in Slate, Maisonneuve, This Magazine, B O D Y, The Threepenny Review, The Walrus, and Poetry. Her first book, 1996, was recently published by House of Anansi Press.
1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
I'm not sure how my first book will change my life. I am so happy that I was able to publish one, in the first place.
I hope that my most recent work is better than my previous work. And by better I mean clearer and more interesting.
My recent work does not feel much different from my previous work.
2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
My main reason is pretty typical: I liked how poetry could accomplish a lot in a small space.
3 - How long does it take to start any particular 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?
I write very slowly, and my first drafts are terrible.
4 - Where does a poem 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?
A poem usually begins with me really not wanting to write a poem, at all. I am never working on a “book” from the very beginning...just a lot of individual things.
5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I am always thrilled to do public readings, in the sense that it is wonderful and flattering to be invited to do so. But I am a very nervous, self conscious reader.
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 have lots of theoretical concerns. I think everyone has a different notion of what the current questions are.
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?
I think the role of the writer depends on the individual, and the type of work s/he is doing, so it's hard for me to generalize.
8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
I find it essential.
9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
Something too personal to record here.
10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to critical prose)? What do you see as the appeal?
I don't write critical prose. I did when I was in school, and I had the same problems with it that I have with writing, in general: that is, I am reluctant and avoidant and have difficulty starting and finishing.
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 writing routine. But I think having one would help. I want to design one over the next few months.
12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
The eternal wellspring of my own guilt re: not writing.
13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
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?
All of these, and more.
15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
To name just one contemporary writer: Frank Bidart.
16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
Become a less anxious person.
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 don't think of writing as my occupation. I'm mostly a teacher. And probably if I didn't write, I would still be a teacher.
18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
I don't know.
19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
The last great books I read were unpublished manuscripts by my friends Erica Ehrenberg and Miriam Bird Greenberg. The last great movie I saw was A Family Finds Entertainment by Ryan Trecartin.
20 - What are you currently working on?
[Sara Peters launches 1996 in Ottawa as part of the Ottawa International Writers Festival's Anansi Poetry Bash on Saturday, April 27, 2013 with Michael Crummey and Adam Dickinson]
12 or 20 (second series) questions;