Steven Price’s first book, Anatomy of Keys (Brick Books, 2006), won the 2007 Gerald Lampert Award. He lives and writes in Victoria, BC.
Questions & Answers
Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?
Not really, no.
How/where do you find inspiration today?
I don’t know that I have much use for the idea of inspiration. I think poetry is hard work and young writers often forget this or are misled by the myth of the Romantic poet: all those Kerouacs drifting through the world, being seized by the beauty of the moment, jotting out a poem. Confusing the life lived with the work written. I try to keep regular working hours, like any other job—poetry, in my experience, comes out of hard, steady work. Ideas for poems can come from anywhere—books read, things seen, anecdotes heard or overheard. But always they need to be filtered, and always the poem bends them into something other than what they started out as.
What is your writing process?
I write at night, from 10 pm through to 4 or 5 in the morning. Then sleep late. When I wake the next day I usually return to the work from the night before and make some swift edits. Bracketing the work with a sleep somehow helps me to focus. I’ll edit a poem for months or even years, until it’s working. Every poem is different.
What is your revision/editing process?
Did you write poetry in high school? If yes, how did you get started? If no, why not?
Yes but it was awful. The impulse was there but I had no idea how to harness it. I was reading only older poets—Shelley, Byron, Coleridge. I remember however coming across a book of Yeats’ Selected Poems in a used bookstore and being astonished. I didn’t understand the poems at all but the muscle in the lines was evident even then. I thought, “What is this stuff?”
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. websites, text books, etc.)?
I just read the poets whose work intrigues me. I’d suggest starting with anthologies, then hunting down and reading the individual collections of poets whose work you admire. Then find the poets who they admired. And so on.
When you were high school aged, what would have been helpful/motivating to hear from a published poet?
I don’t really know. I suppose just to hear that they still existed, that it was a living art form. I’d encourage aspiring poets to read everything they can get their hands on, and to be honest with themselves. If they admire a poet, that’s great—but if they don’t admire a celebrated poet, then don’t worry over it. As I said above, find the poets who move you and then try in your own verse to do what they do.