Paul Huebener is a PhD candidate in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, where he is researching the cultural and literary construction of time in Canada. He is a co-editor for The Goose, the journal of the Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada.
Questions & Answers
Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?
I’ve always admired writers, and becoming one has been a long-term pipe dream. The desire to write tends to be renewed whenever I read something great, or think of something that ought to be written down.
How/where do you find inspiration today?
The same places that inspire conversation, I suppose. Events, observations, frustrations, questions the poem becomes a long-distilled form of whatever is on my mind.
What is your writing process?
I’ll jot down ideas and fragments, and every now and then they coalesce into a draft of a poem.
What is your revision/editing process?
A first draft might take a few days. Then I usually need to put the poem away for a few months to gain perspective on it. When I return to a poem after a long break I find it much easier to see what is lacking and what isn’t working, and to prune ruthlessly.
Did you write poetry in high school? If yes, how did you get started? If no, why not?
I tried once or twice, but I didn’t have a good enough sense of how to negotiate with the language. I would fall victim to clichés or forced metre and rhyme schemes.
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. websites, text books, etc.)?
I find that the best ways to improve my writing are to read widely, write a lot, get feedback, and age. A few friends and I run a creative writing group, which is highly useful for three reasons: it creates deadlines so writing actually gets done, it provides feedback and encouragement, and the meetings take the form of potlucks, which are delicious.
When you were high school aged, what would have been helpful/motivating to hear from a published poet?
We’ve all heard about the long-rejected-until-suddenly-successful author, and such stories can be motivating. But after a point, I think gaining confidence is more a matter of seeing improvement in my own work over time than hearing about other writers.