If you were a visitor
looking down, you’d think
this planet was made by cars.

From the sky you’d see
only highway lines
and no footpaths.

You’d note their servants
are attendantly housed
next to the car’s lodgings.

You’d see vertical tunnels suck
what earth and time made
to feed and give motor

as the cars inhale
the pure air to react
it to destruction.

And do the cars know
they’re ruining their home?
When you’re the big winner

there’s no need to worry,
sure that what you made
you’re allowed to destroy.

Questions and Answers

Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. books, films, art, websites, etc.)?

Nothing in particular, but read, read, read. Everything from ephemera to classics, print or electronic. Poetry, of course, but be interested in everything.

As a published writer, what are your tips or words of motivation for the aspiring poet?

For a while, I read manuscripts for a publisher. I had expected most submissions to be not worth publishing. Instead, I found that many, perhaps even a majority, were publishable, but in the end acceptance depends on so many other things in addition to quality–from matching the publisher’s existing list to whether or not the publisher knows you, or doesn’t and is on the look-out for someone new. In short, take rejection as part of an ongoing process and keep on writing and submitting.

What poetic techniques did you use in this poem? How much attention do you pay to form and metre?

Second question first. If there’s no form or metre, there’s no poem. “Form” does not have to mean “formal” or rigid, but there must be an internal structure. I see telling a story or making an argument as elements of form. As to mere, it doesn’t have to be “da-dum, da-dum” but there must be a rhythm that will help the reader locate the meaning. As to other techniques, it’s really just a matter of trying out everything that comes to mind–diction, line-endings, different sounds, punctuation, all the devices. Thanks to word processing, you can change your mind a hundred times. Finally, to me the best poems (and certainly those I remember) work both on the page and out loud.

How did your writing process unfold around this poem? How did you write, edit, and refine it?

The initial idea came quickly and was easy to express as prose. How to make a poem? I let the idea lead me, tried to make every word count, and, yes, had fun watching what happened.

What did you find particularly challenging in writing this poem?

Avoiding proselytization.

This poem “Automobilia” originally appeared in House, Home, Hospitality Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 237 (2019): 64.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.