Lyle Neff is a Canadian writer. He lives and works in Vancouver, with his wife Junie and sons James and Thomas. Neff wrote the Anvil Press poetry collections Ivanhoe Station (1997), Full Magpie Dodge (2000) and Bizarre Winery Tragedy (2005).
Questions & Answers
Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?
No. I did, specifically, learn to read in one moment, age 5, sitting in a gravel driveway with an Archie Comics Digest.
How/where do you find inspiration today?
Some writing is sometimes inspired, ie something external triggers it. But the lightning of the Muse won’t zap poetry out of you if you’re illiterate, or a doofus. Reading great poetry is the only reliable kindle of great poetry. My poems poems are uninspired; I’m more in the line of worry, sweat and editing.
What is your writing process?
Late nights. Solitude. Muttering. Back and forth to the bookshelf, or compulsive Googling. Tweaking and adjusting previous pieces. My writing process mostly involves reading, in fact.
What is your revision/editing process?
Oh, Christ: endless.
Did you write poetry in high school? If yes, how did you get started? If no, why not?
Yes, I did. It was Shakespeare and Yeats, Dylan Thomas and Earle Birney, Dennis Lee and WS Merwin who got me started. Also, chicks.
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. websites, text books, etc.)?
Any Collected Shakespeare. Faber & Faber’s Little Treasury of Modern Poetry. Dennis Lee’s New Canadian Poets 1970-1985. John Updike’s Rabbit novels. As many magazine and newspaper subscriptions as you can afford.
When you were high school aged, what would have been helpful/motivating to hear from a published poet?
“If you don’t like reading poetry, how will you write poetry anyone else might like to read?”