W. F. Garrett-Petts teaches English at Thompson Rivers University. His recent books include PhotoGraphic Encounters, The Small Cities Book, Proximities, and Integrating Visual and Verbal Literacies. He lives in Kamloops, BC, with his wife and two daughters.
Questions & Answers
Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?
A moment that inspired me to write poetry? There’s no specific moment per se that I can remember. However, the poem “A Band of Hair Beneath the Veil” began first as an entry in my travel journal. I suspect that some similar “moment” may have inspired my attraction to writing poetry in general—that is, a desire to translate prose or prosaic observations into something more artistic, more compelling.
How/where do you find inspiration today?
I’m most inspired by the everyday, by seeing freshly that which is often overlooked.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is delightfully messy, involving many revisions. More and more I find myself moving from the visual to the verbal—from photographs and video and drawings I’ve produced to a verbal reflection and refinement.
What is your revision/editing process?
My revision process begins when I print out something composed (or partially composed) on the computer. I start underlining, drawing arrows from one part of the writing to another. Often I’ll find a passage that works and throw away the rest of the first or second draft. I’m always looking for a focusing line to keep my writing on course.
Did you write poetry in high school? If yes, how did you get started? If no, why not?
Yes, I began writing poetry and short stories when I was in elementary school—and this continued into high school. My friend and I started a small magazine; and later, when I started university, I found myself editing the university magazine.
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. websites, text books, etc.)?
I read the work of other poets. Once you’ve experienced Bronwen Wallace or George Bowering or Robert Kroetsch or the work of so many others—it’s difficult not to want to write a poem of your own.
When you were high school aged, what would have been helpful/motivating to hear from a published poet?
I think the most important thing is to “hear” the poem—and if possible to hear the poet read the poem.