Poetry Quebec: Are you a native Quebecer? If not, where are you originally from? Why did you come to Quebec?
Robyn Sarah: I was born in NYC but that was because my father was doing graduate studies at Columbia at the time. I am Canadian by parentage (both parents Canadian) and have lived in Montreal since the age of four. My mother’s parents came to Montreal in the 1920s, escaping the devastation and economic distress of post-war Poland.
PQ: When and how did you encounter your 1st Quebec poem?
RS: Am I supposed to remember? I don’t usually ask poems to show me their passports when I encounter them.
PQ: When and how did you first become interested in poetry?
RS: I began reading and writing poetry as a young child, and was confirmed in both habits by my early teens. I have written an essay on this subject. It is called “I to my perils: How I Fell for Poetry”, and was first published in The New Quarterly (commissioned to kick off its “Falling in Love with Poetry” series.) The essay is reprinted in my book of essays, Little Eurekas: A Decade’s Thoughts on Poetry.
PQ: What is your working definition of a poem?
RS: Still working on it.
PQ: Do you have a writing ritual? If so, provide details.
RS: Not really. It’s a nice idea. I wish I did.
PQ: What is your approach to writing of poems: inspiration driven, structural, social, thematic, other?
RS: For me, poems usually begin with a phrase I like the sound of. I call these “tinder words”. They come to me from nowhere—sometimes they occur as part of a letter I’m writing or a journal entry, or in conversation; sometimes they just come into my head and I jot them down. Poems germinate from them, sometimes within days, sometimes not until months or years later. I rarely know what a poem is going to be “about” when I start playing around with one of these phrases. I guess this means my poetry is ear-driven, though I am not a “sound poet.”
For the rest of the interview please go here.