Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Anton Pooles

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I doMonster+36+Half+Cover

Anton Pooles

was born in Novosibirsk, Siberia and lives in Toronto. He is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Toronto and the author of the chapbook Monster 36 (Anstruther Press, 2019) http://www.anstrutherpress.com/new-products/monster-36-by-anton-pooles

Follow him on Twitter @antonpooles.

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I’m a poet by accident, I never aspired to be one. I struggled badly with reading and writing in school, and still struggle with it to this day. I have a poor working memory and often have to re-read whole pages of a book because I can’t retain any of it. So, becoming a writer never crossed my mind when I was younger. Then a high school teacher told me that I wasn’t half bad and maybe I should give it a go, so I did and the only thing that is going to stop me now is death. I do not like the term “Learning Disability,” but I am of course aware of its presence. I write in defiance of my limitations and I am constantly having to prove to myself, time and time again, that I can be better than it would otherwise allow me to be. Why Poetry? I’m honestly not sure. We’re just a good fit I think.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I had to discover it by myself and that started with discovering epic Arthurian poems like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the poems of Sir Walter Scott. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I started reading contemporary poetry. I had started taking writing classes at the University of Toronto and I met Catherine Graham who was one of my professors — if I hadn’t taken those classes and never met Catherine I’m not sure I would be a poet — or at least I’d be a very different one.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

The poets I was aware of as a child (and there weren’t many) felt as mythical as the figures they wrote about — Walter Scott felt as real as King Arthur. That mysticism washed away a little when I got older. I realised that they were just people sitting at a desk, writing and were not so different from us.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I wish it was daily for starters, but when I do get a full day to dedicate to writing I like to start early, before my brain turns to mush. I don’t like working in silence, so I have music playing (always instrumental), something that fits the mood I’m in. It’s important for me to lock myself away from the outside world and limit the distractions that come with it. Music helps to create a bubble where my imagination and thoughts can flow freely.

5. What motivates you to write?

Poetry is all about exploration. It’s the chance to examine things you may not quite understand — things about yourself and about the world around you. As writers we’re always looking and finding things that perhaps go unnoticed. It’s important to write for yourself, but it’s also exciting to share your discoveries.

6. What is your work ethic?

My only rule is; when the poetry demon comes knocking I always try to answer him, no matter where I am. If I don’t, he’ll continue to scratch and gnaw at me until I do. Otherwise, it varies depending on what I am working on.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I grew up reading fairy tales and fantasy, and one of the reasons I had such a difficult time getting into contemporary poetry was because there appeared to be no room for fantasy. I don’t think that any more, in fact I think quite the opposite. Once I embraced that, my work improved substantially, I think. I always sprinkle a few crumbs of magic into my work.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

There are many, but the two who I admire and have inspired me the most would be Anne Carson and Catherine Graham. Their work appeared magically before me at a turning point in my writing life. I’m also greatly inspired by film. Film supplies me with imagery that I can’t always get from reading.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

There is a lot of uncertainty and mystery when I’m looking down at that empty page and I like that — I like not knowing where I am going to end up. Outside of travel, I haven’t found anything else that gives me that pleasure.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

The only way to become a writer is to write, and write often. No one is watching you write, so go wild, and don’t be afraid of exploring new territories, that you would normally stay clear of.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’m working hard on completing my first full collection of poems. I’ll keep you posted.

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