Nothing Works For Sure: An Interview with Joshua Trotter
Over at the Walrus blog, Jacob Arthur Mooney has posted an interview with Josh Trotter. Here's a taste:
Joshua Trotter’s debut,All This Could Be Yours, slipped quietly into (better) bookstores earlier this year and quickly became something of a totem among the poetry-reading public. A small number of people seem to like it a great deal. I’m among them. The Montreal poet’s eclectic, unformulaic approach to form has resulted in a book of language games and sci-fi–flavoured experimental riffs that stick around in the reader’s mind, both propelled by sound and sustained by content.
Trotter and I exchanged emails about the book and his creative process. That correspondence is shared below.
JACOB MCARTHUR MOONEYThanks for doing this, Joshua. What’s most striking aboutAll This Could Be Yours, at least in terms of content, is its diversity of interests. You really take from across the culture, and from science and the social sciences. At the same time, the poems possess a sort of self-containment as individuals, giving the book a real “collection” feel. Despite a handful of recurring motifs and characters, the book’s unity comes from disunity: it’s a book of poems, rather than the less specific “book of poetry.” How do you feel about unity in the context of a book of poems, as it relates to the assumed necessity (especially with a first book) of a singular voice?
JOSHUA TROTTERI spent a lot of time attempting to coerce the book into coherence — in terms of style, in terms of content, in terms of voice — and I found I could not force it to happen. At least, not without damaging the poems. So, as it says on the cover, it’s a book of poems, rather than poetry. The poems are self-contained organisms, I hope. The book is their exoskeleton. It took me awhile to be okay with that. I have long been a fan of books with a distinct, consistent tone. Recurring images, morals, themes, grammatical forms, even words. It is a wonderful feeling to buckle yourself into such a Volvo, to let it carry you from page to page in comfort and relative safety. Yet, as I read more, as I get older, I’m becoming more interested in books that jump from place to place. Books that go off-road, scratching the paint, dragging the muffler — books that are willing to drive without insurance, perhaps a little drunk.
I have the feeling that my next book (if there is a next book) will have to carry more voices than the first. We use this term, voice, but to be honest, I’m not sure what it means. I know the creative writing adage about “finding one’s voice” — like finding an oil deposit or a missing dog — but to be honest, I have found that I have many voices. They tell me contradictory things. If there are other people like me — and I assume, statistically, that there are — the adage would serve us better by telling us to choose a voice, rather than find one. But then, I’m not very good at making choices.