Friday, October 17, 2014

'Poet pushes together fragments in new book'

I had a little article on my Ottawa book launch for If suppose we are a fragment (BuschekBooks) in Carleton University's weekly paper, The Charletan, recently.

For the sake of full disclosure, I include the text of the little interview the writer of the article, Phelisha Cassup, conducted with me, via email:

1. How did you chose the title? What inspired it? Is there any specific moment or story that it was derived from?

I’m not completely sure where the title of If suppose we are a fragment originated. It sounded good when rolled off the tongue, and on the page as well. Given that it was composed during a very early period in my relationship with my now-wife, the poet Christine McNair, one might make speculations on the nature of the fragment, and how relationships are about pieces slowly fitting together into each other.

2. What advice do you have to aspiring writers/journalists?

Just write. To aspire means nothing until you do.

Also, read as much and as widely as possible. Edits and revision are essential, but only after the first draft. Be fearless, but never reckless. Listen to the parts of you that aren’t often acknowledged. Be open to ideas that might not make sense at first, or at all to anyone else. And be patient: any craft takes years and some thousands of hours to perfect. You don’t have to solve it all in one day, or even one year.

3. Do you have any current projects on the go?

Multiple. I’m currently attempting to complete a manuscript of short stories, as well as a poetry collection. I’m also editing a selected poems by the Perth, Ontario poet Phil Hall, who is currently writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa.

4. What was the hardest part of creating this work?

After twenty-plus years of writing full time, the work ethic is there, the patience is there, and the attention is there. The hardest part? Often, the hardest part is attempting to find a home for completed manuscripts. Publishing has shifted over the past decade or so, away from taking chances on riskier works and seriously reducing the possibilities for sales across the country (the reduction in bookstores and reviewing meaning fewer books are receiving any attention at all). It is making it hard for a great many of us to find publishers.

5. Is it hard to balance family, your new baby (Congrats again!!), with writing?

Thanks much! Balance is always a tricky thing, whether considering relationships, employment, schooling or anything else. This past year has been an enormous shift, certainly, going from full days of work to half-days, trading time with Christine until her maternity leave ends. Once she goes back to work, I’ll be attempting to carve writing spaces over the next few years around the occasional childcare, the uncertainty of naps and my own exhaustion.

6. What makes this piece unique from others?


7. Where can your works be purchased?

I’ve a number of works available for online sale at, and most of my publishers each have websites where one can purchase books. Failing that, one can simply visit my table at the semi-annual Ottawa small press book fair in November. The twentieth anniversary edition of the fair occurs on Saturday, November 8, 2014 on the second floor of the Jack Purcell Community Centre on Elgin Street. Otherwise, one can always send me an email at and we can do something more directly.

8. Any other things you want the students of Carleton to know/ read?

The In/Words Reading Series, run through Carleton University’s In/Words Magazine and Press, is perhaps the most fun reading series currently in town. For information on any and all Ottawa literary information, including readings, book fairs, calls for submissions and other such notices, one should constantly be paying attention to

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