The Pain of Being – Andrew W. French

As part of Red Alder Review‘s Open Mic series – a Q&A and poem from Andrew French.


Red Alder Review (RA): How do you normally connect to the poetry/literary community? 

Andrew French (AF): I think the biggest way is probably through staying active online, whether it be on Twitter or through my podcast, Page Fright. It’s always difficult to get writers in the same room, so being able to converse online is always helpful and meaningful.

RA: What is the most memorable poetry event or Open Mic you attended in-person? 

AF: I would say my most memorable open mic was probably during my undergrad at Huron University College. I used to write some longer poems, and the organizers (who are friends) gave me a ten or fifteen minute set that I really enjoyed doing. That night was really fun for me!

RA: Who are the poets who most influence you?

AF: It’s really hard to say because I try to let everybody I read influence me. I’m always interviewing new writers for the podcast, and I like to read their stuff, so there’s always new influences. I’d say the poetry I’ve been coming back to lately because of the project I’m working on has largely been by P.K. Page, but I’m always influenced by the work of friends in the writing community as well.

RA: Whose work are you most excited about reading in the months to come?

AF: Hands down, Kyla Jamieson’s Body Count. I’ve actually read it already, I got a sneak peek when I interviewed her for Page Fright, and it’s a home-run. Can’t recommend that book enough!

RA: How has the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic affected your writing practice? 

AF: It hasn’t, oddly enough. In terms of writing, I’ve been working on an MA thesis for what feels like years, so I’m used to slotting in bits of creative writing here and there in between. The biggest difference between now and a month or two ago is the amount of podcasting I’ve been doing, because writers have more time on their hands and are more available to chat as a result! 

RA: What are you working on right now? 

AF: A full-length poetry collection. It has no title, and a thousand concepts, so I can’t really describe it much here!

RA: Do you have any new work forthcoming (in journals, chapbooks, collections, anthologies, etc.)?

AF: I have a chapbook called DO NOT DISCARD ASHES coming out with 845 Press later this year! 

After Emily Carr’s “Above the Gravel Pit”

The stumps floating in your gravel sea suck down dusty air,
an unfulfilling final feast, green brothers watching on in horror
as the rock field rumbles forward and the sky blows by.

A girl is towed towards the turning cloudscape
by her mother’s steady hand. She is shown how
you can see the bumps, the way the paint dried.

What are the bumps? Acrylic insects? Fallen leaves?
Someone will know the pain of being
the last leaf to fall. Watch every sibling swing
along the air’s pendulum, zig-zag
to what remains of the forest’s floor.

Emily, when you took the leap from your branch,
how did you stroke the sky so beautifully?

Andrew French reads The Pain of Being from his forthcoming chapbook DO NOT DISCARD ASHES (845 Press 2020)

Andrew French is a writer from North Vancouver, BC. His poetry has been published in journals across Canada, America, and the UK. His debut poetry chapbook, DO NOT DISCARD ASHES, is forthcoming from The Temz Review’s 845 Press in 2020. In his free time, Andrew hosts Page Fright: A Literary Podcast, where he grills his favourite authors on their latest works.


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