As part of Red Alder Review‘s Open Mic series – Q&A and poem from Pearl Pirie.
Red Alder Review (RA): How do you normally connect to the poetry/literary community?
For almost a decade I connected by going to every possible event of festivals and readings and chatted until I was hoarse. And reading stuff that got printed.
My new normal of the last few years has been watching for upcoming poems, chapbooks and books and reading as many as I can. And keeping in touch with writers I know by email and social media.
RA: What is the most memorable poetry event or Open Mic you attended in-person?
When Erin Moure gave a reading and roved the room, took the foam ball off the mic and stuck it on her nose, tossed it around the room as a ball. She transformed the purpose of what she touched and the reader-frontedness of the prim event into play. So many poets quake or freeze or change to poet voice. She stayed animate, animated more even.
As a tie, an AB Series with Sandra Ridley’s sound poetry troupe. Members rose out of the audience for one piece creating this ambient, complementary sound. For another voices appeared from each of the corners of the room in perfect synchronization and came towards the centre, hocketing words (passing part words from one to another seamlessly so a word and phrase is spoken as if one voice spoke.) It created an immersive sound.
Going back further, at Dodge Poetry Fest, Coleman Barks recited Rumi in a little white chapel.The acoustics of his booming voice filling that space with Rumi’s rhapsody: Goosebump raising. Or, when days earlier, even more powerfully, when Stanley Kunitz, about 90 at the time, was introduced inside Dodge’s circus-sized tent and there was an electric wave and standing ovation. Then Kunitz spoke, that he’s been working on this poem since he sat on the roof of his house when he was 7 and he thinks he’s just about got it nailed now. Another standing ovation.
RA: Who are the poets who most influence you?
Previously I was focused on breaking old mental habits with chance operations, exploring non-narrative and anti-profound to get some chemical randomness beauty like raku. It was necessary but to continue now would be to order a personalized licence place of a pattern with no significance, a copping out.
Design of the material essence of life is the new objective. Monty Reid who can use fewest possible everyday words that seem plainly put, but they land somewhere unpredictable, but inevitable on retrospect. Well-done haiku and senryu, and Kay Ryan, for the same reasons. It’s not the telling how it is but the grounding in what is, what is now, and now. Charlotte Perriand designed from her lens to a coherent comprehensible whole. I want to parse with similarly clear-eyes, connect.
RA: Whose work are you most excited about reading in the months to come?
I have a list. A bunch of lists. I have things on hold at my indie bookstore, including John Elizabeth Stinzi’s Junebat and Gwen Benaway’s day/break, Michael Dennis’ Low Centre of Gravity and Sandscapes by Eric Charlebois. I have a whole box of books from Brick ($30 for a boxful!).I want to know more about In | Appropriate, a collection of poet interviews conducted by Kim Davids Mandar. Revery: a year of bees by Jenna Butler. And Kay Ryan’s Erratic Facts, which I missed when it came out. I risk a need for a fainting couch to contemplate too much of it at once.
RA: How has the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic affected your writing practice?
Double-edged. Stress makes me silent and non-verbal. Fear I may die soon pressures me to finish the 3 of the 5 manuscripts I have underway. I want my works to come up to date with my life thus far. At least if humanity is wiped within my natural span, I will have satisfaction at having completed a few things to the best of my capacity. It also shows me the importance of humour for thriving, so encourages recipes that are solutions to leaven my dour.
RA: What are you working on right now?
I have 3 sections of the letters to my father manuscript published or spoken for, and am trying to get the last 2 sections finalized and the whole sorted. I also am trying to figure out Canada Council grants since my seasonal work is impaired.
RA: Do you have any new work forthcoming (in journals, chapbooks, collections,
I have forthcoming in:
- The New Quarterly (spring 2020 issue),
- Per Diem at the Haiku Foundation Website (May 2020),
- The Peter F Yacht Club #28 (VF Postponed edition),
- a haiga collection, ed. by Ion Codrescu, currently untitled, fall 2020)
- Moving Meditation, anthology ed. by Lynne Jambor, of tai chi haiku, tanka & senryu. (2020).
- footlights, a poetry collection (Radiant Press, fall 2020).
- Water loves its bridges: Letters to the dead, (The Alfred Gustav Press, Dec 2020)
Pearl Pirie reads and writes in rural Quebec. Her collection footlights, comes in the fall 2020 from Radiant Press. Her 30th chapbook is Not Quite Dawn (Éditions des petits nuages, March, 2020). Her third poetry collection, the pet radish, shrunken (Book*hug, 2015), won the Lampman Award. Thirsts (Invisible, 2011) won the Robert Kroetsch Award. Her poems have been given the nod for Best Canadian Poetry in English three times.
author site: www.pearlpirie.com