Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Zach Wells: Two Interviews

I don't know why I didn't see these the first time around, but if they are new to me perhaps they will be new to you as well.

Back in November, Maisonneuve did an interview with Zach Wells about the publication of Track & Trace.

Alessandro Porco: Can you talk a little about the new book’s title and central concerns?

Zach Wells: I think I first came up with the title after reading a passage in a story by Ivan KlĂ­ma (tr. Ewald Osers) in his book My First Loves. That passage is now the epigraph of the book. But I might have had the title in mind already, then read the passage, not sure. The title is kind of a key. As with the title of Unsettled, it doesn’t refer to a specific phrase or poem, but is something that links the poems, that accounts for these particular pieces being in this particular book. The poems, which I wrote over a period of ten or eleven years—during which time I was moving all over the place, Halifax, PEI, Iqaluit, Montreal, Resolute Bay, Vancouver—are mostly concerned with place and displacement, roots and rootlessness, flux and fixity. I don’t tend to think of them in such terms—I’m generally more focused on how a given poem is working word to word, line to line, than in how it relates to other poems or thematic concerns—but when it came time to put them together, those seemed to be the main things all of these poems had in common. They’re more or less the same preoccupations as the poems in Unsettled, I guess, but differently focused.

AP: Why differently?

ZW: I’d say that, generally, Unsettled is a more civic book and T&T a more lyric book. I’d also say that T&T is a more refined book. Unsettled had over 80 poems in it, many of them quite rough and raw, some of which I’d disown now if I could. I held on to the manuscript of T&T for quite a while because I wanted to have a book in which I was quite confident that each poem justified its own existence. It only has 34 poems in it and I don’t think I’ll feel as negative about any of them in five years as I do about some of the poems in Unsettled. T&T also reflects my growing interest in metrics and stanzaic structures. There are some rhymed and metred poems in Unsettled, but those things are foregrounded more in T&T. Another difference is that Unsettled, being focused on the eastern Arctic, is more geographically unified than T&T, in which the poems take place on all three coasts, points in between and even in Orkney, Scotland.

For the rest of the interview please go here.

Last month Jonathan Ball did an interview with Zach on his blog:

3. What is wrong with the publishing industry, and what are they getting right?

Lots of things are wrong with the publishing industry, but the thing that’s bugging me most these days is the union-type rules related to Canada Council block grant disbursements, whereby really enterprising, energetic and talented junior publishers receive smaller grants than sluggish, attenuated, mediocre relics–no matter what the jury recommends. These grants should be going to the houses making the most significant contributions–now–to publishing, not to those whose main claims to fame are their backlist and the fact of their survival. But then, survival’s what Canadian literature’s all about, ain’t it.

I think there are a lot of really dynamic small presses producing worthwhile books and in many cases making those books into beautiful objects. I think a few players on the small press scene have really raised the bar over the last decade, which has spurred some presses to up their game and has provided inspiration and a positive example to upstart publishers. Good design is so important, I think. What’s the point of making something few people are going to buy if you make it cheap and ugly? There are enough cheap and ugly things in the world. So kudos to presses like Gaspereau, Biblioasis, Coach House and the Porcupine’s Quill, to name a few, for giving words durable and stylish homes.

For the rest of that one please visit 8-Ball

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