Valerie Stetson

lerie Stetson is a writer living in Kelowna. Her first book, a collection of short stories called The Year I Got Impatient, (Oolichan Books, 2007), was runner-up for the 2008 Danuta Gleed Literary Award. The title story also received The 2001 Bronwen Wallace Award. Her second book is a collection of poems called Living In Gravity, (Palimpsest Press, 2008). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She has worked as a humour columnist and television writer for the Times Colonist in Victoria. Her articles have also appeared in The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star. She is currently writing a novel.

Questions & Answers

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

I remember being so unbearably bored during a high school English class one afternoon that I resorted to reading the textbook. I came across one of Keats’s poems, and it pierced my teenage heart. If I had to choose a moment, I’d say that one revealed how powerful and relevant poetry can be.

How/where do you find inspiration today?

By paying very close attention to whatever fascinates me.

What is your writing process?

Something about the slow pace of poetry lends itself to being written longhand. For the most part I write in the morning. I set certain hours aside, and have a page quota to fulfill. I need to have goals and a deadline to ward off sloth.

What is your revision/editing process?

I rewrite my drafts on the computer. After a series of revisions, I let the work sit for a few weeks and then come back to it again and edit some more.

Did you write poetry in high school? If yes, how did you get started? If no, why not?

I did not start writing until I was in my twenties. Until then, I lacked four key things: confidence, encouragement, discipline and ambition.

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

Stephen King’s book On Writing. It’s the most useful, interesting book I’ve read on the subject. And a good writer’s market.

When you were high school aged, what would have been helpful/motivating to hear from a published poet?

People often tell me that they find poetry “too difficult”. It’s hard to play the guitar too, but that doesn’t stop people from picking it up and teaching themselves to play. There’s no magic. If you’re interested, don’t be afraid to try. Pour yourself out on the page and practice.

Works by Valerie Stetson