Susan Glickman grew up in Montreal, the oldest of 4 children. Now she lives in Toronto and has two of her own. She taught everything from grade two to University, both full and part-time; currently she teaches creative writing and is a freelance editor of academic books. She has published five collections of poetry, a novel for adults, a novel for kids, and a book of literary criticism.
For more information see her website, www.susanglickman.com
Questions & Answers
Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?
It seems to me that from the first moment I heard poetry, before I could even read, it entranced me. In those early days my fascination was more with the sounds and rhythms of words than their meanings, and I continued making up rhyming poems for many years after I learned to read.
I think I only started writing poems that didn’t rhyme once I was in high school, once my experience of language became more grounded in text than in the speaking and singing voice. The first poet who made me think that maybe I could pursue poetry seriously was Leonard Cohen; I bought The Spice Box of Earth at a book fair in my school gymnasium when I was in grade ten and it took the top of my head off.
How/where do you find inspiration today?
I used to find inspiration in books, then in landscapes and lovers. Now it’s just everywhere. I don’t even think of it as something as exalted as “inspiration” it’s more humbly “material.” Every single thing I experience can pass through poetry.
Poetry is like Lyra’s alethiometer in The Golden Compass. By writing it I come to know the world.
What is your writing process?
I try to make time to write every day, even if all I can muster up is the energy to edit stuff I wrote the day before. I usually need to spend about an hour warming up at my desk by reading my email, paying bills, just getting my butt firmly fixed in the chair. Then once I get going I find it really hard to stop. Sometimes I’ll even get up in the middle of the night to keep working.
What is your revision/editing process?
With prose, I edit fanatically, constantly, incessantly, as I go. Each day I go over the previous days work and edit it, adding and deleting, adding and deleting, and eventually moving forward. With poetry, there tends to be a lot more deleting and revising than adding as I refine exactly what it is that needs to be said. Sometimes if I’m lucky, with a shortish lyric, I get the first draft the first day and then just fiddle with it for ages. With a long poem it may take months.
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. websites, text books, etc.)?
I use memory. That’s a damn fine resource! Except when you can’t remember things (see above).
When you were high school aged, what would have been helpful/motivating to hear from a published poet?
Read lots, write lots. Learn your craft. Think about how you learn to play an instrument, or a sport—practice is everything. That means you MUST revise. Don’t assume that your first draft is the best you can do!!