realistic endless loop

riverbank unstable
collapsing bridge skeleton

chimes unsafe anchor
untethered to polestar

killer goes home to bed
without killing anyone

when years ago I stopped answering the phone
I imagined that after some time it would stop ringing

Questions and Answers

Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?

When I was 11, I saw the rock band Nirvana performing on TV and decided that I wanted to learn to play guitar and write songs. I was lucky enough to be exposed to poetry by my large and literate extended family at a young age, but it wasn’t until I attended the College of New Caledonia at 18 that I discovered the poetry of Barry McKinnon, which I immediately felt reflected my lived experience as nothing else I had encountered up to that point did—and uniquely, as poetry. I started attempting to write poems for the page (as opposed to songs) right away and received excellent encouragement in the course of my university studies, including from many visiting writers who read in Prince George.

How/where do you find inspiration today?

Reading is my most important source of inspiration. I read a lot of contemporary Canadian and American poetry, as well as international authors in translation (Spanish poetry is of particular interest to me). I also enjoy walking and listening to people talk. The practice of editing has become as important to me as writing per se, and the ideas I come up with in editing often dramatically change the original idea. After years of working this way, I trust the process enough to begin with materials that are very slight, sometimes with only my intuitive interest as the criterion for inclusion and exploration.

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

realistic endless loop was mainly occasioned by a walk in Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park in Prince George in August 2016. Next to the bench where I was sitting and writing, a concert poster was slightly overlapping a poster with images of missing and murdered women, which caught my attention and eventually overpowered me with horror.

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

There were originally several pages of draft writing in a notebook, from which I chose favourite lines to transcribe. I deleted every unnecessary word and modified lines until repetitions of articles, gerunds, tenses, and other technical elements felt like they could not be any further reduced. I moved the lines and stanzas around within the piece until they seemed to acquire a sequential coherence, including using the last stanza’s shift in tone and introduction of a speaking “I” in order to abstractly summon the lyric “turn” in a decidedly decentered piece. I wanted an anxious mood and atmosphere; the sense of a piece bearing the marks of (possibly excessive, even cruel) editing; and to suggest a frame of reference without making it explicit—in short, a lighter-than-air, faintly hallucinatory poem.

This poem “realistic endless loop” originally appeared in Meanwhile, Home. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 232 (Spring 2017): 28.

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