Glen Sorestad was born in Vancouver and spent his first ten years there, before moving to a farm in Saskatchewan. He spent part of his life as a school teacher, then left teaching to become a full-time writer and publisher. He is the author of 18 volumes of poetry and has edited many anthologies. He was Saskatchewan’s first Poet Laureate from 2000-2004. His poems have appeared in over 40 anthologies and textbooks, have been translated into a half-dozen languages, and have also been broadcast on radio in a number of countries. He has given public readings of his poetry all over Canada and the United States, as well as in France, Norway, Finland and Slovenia.
Questions & Answers
Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?
I can’t say there was a specific moment, but my first poems grew out of my desire to tell a story on the page and so they were very narrative-driven. Poetry was an interest that I developed in elementary school and it stayed with me, dormana for some years, but eventually emerging when I found myself developing writer-friends in Saskatoon in the late 1960s.
How/where do you find inspiration today?
My inspiration comes from all around me, from the people I come into daily contact with, from books, photographs, from my interaction with the world around me, both the animate and inanimate worlds, from what I see and hear in my perpetual eavesping on the world, from memories of things done and not done. Inspiration can come from everywhere, from both the expected and the unexpected sources.
What is your writing process?
I am a morning person and therefore a morning writer. I write regularly, and most mornings I am either working on something new or reworking poems I’ve written previously. I like to write my first drafts as quickly as I can, get the ideas down on the page and I usually do not concern myself with the structure or form of the poem in the first draft. Although having said that, I find many first drafts do shape themselves into a recognizable poetic form. So my first drafts are usually attempts to chase down the ideas and get them all down on the page.
What is your revision/editing process?
I usually do not begin to rewrite or revise a poem until several weeks after the first draft. This allows me to step back at least a little more objectively from the poem. In the initial attempts to rewrite or revise, I am still working with the ideas, but in this phase of rewriting I also become more conscious of the form and structure of the initial draft and I may begin to restructure the poem as I work with the ideas. Once the ideas seem firm and in place, then I work on the language, almost entirely from that point on.
Did you write poetry in high school? If yes, how did you get started? If no, why not?
When I was in high school I never even considered the possibility of writing a poem. But I was interested in writing stories and that interest in stories led me, many years later, to poetry. I started writing poetry when I was 30 and my first poems were really offshoots of story attempts. Very narrative and not very poetic, but poems of a sort.
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. websites, text books, etc.)?
One of my primary resources is and has always been Soules Dictionary of English Synonyms, my preference to Roget’s Thesaurus, although I also have and use the latter sometimes. I believe every poet needs a resource like this. Also a first-rate dictionary. I use several, including The Penguin Canadian Dictionary. Every young poet should be familiar with the youngpoets.ca website of the League of Canadian Poets.
When you were high school aged, what would have been helpful/motivating to hear from a published poet?
When I was in high school I thought of all poets as being long dead because most of what we read was pre-twentieth century poetry. Had any living poet come to our school I would have loved to hear the poet talk of writing out of the ordinary “stuff” of his or her life, some indication that our own mundane lives actually contained the material from which poetry can be made.