Andy McGuire is the author of Country Club. He recently completed an MFA in Creative Writing through the University of Guelph. McGuire’s poems have appeared in The Walrus, Hazlitt, Riddle Fence, CV2, Arc, Vallum, and Eleven Eleven. Originally from Grand Bend, Ontario, he currently lives in Toronto.
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?
I realized after my first book how much more I have to do.
2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
For some reason, I was more interested in poetry.
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?
Writing, for me, is all fits and starts. A first draft usually provides a scaffolding, a basis for change. Work that comes out of copious notes sounds like the worst party ever.
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?
Sometimes I wish I had a cat to chase around the house. Instead, I chase little phrases and fragments around until something sparks. Either a poem begins or it doesn’t. As for the second part of the question, it depends. Sometimes you plant a field, sometimes a field plants you.
5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I like doing readings. I am an eternal intern in the performance department.
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 read a lot of theory, but if any theoretical concerns make it into my poems they do so through a mysterious process of recombobulation. In that metabolic process I trust.
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 is to produce great writing.
8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
Working with an editor seems essential to me. If you homeschool your poems they’re pretty much guaranteed to be awkward around others.
9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
Give up faster or don’t give up.
10 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
Wake up, start writing, try not to die, repeat.
11 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
I turn to cardio.
12 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
Narcissistic personality disorder.
13 - 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?
At the moment, film, visual art, Instagram, and Gregorian chant.
14 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
Sarah Manguso sets the bar for crisp, clear prose. Adam Phillips and his dazzling sentences. Mary Ruefle, always. Also Leopoldine Core, right now. I forgot how to leave the house for awhile after reading that book Bill Callahan wrote.
15 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
Make some truly awful paintings.
16 - 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?
Investment banker. Anesthesiologist. Piano teacher.
17 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
I’m not very good at much else.
18 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
19 - What are you currently working on?
My second collection.