(Reposted from Morris House: Backstage, October 23, 2013)
LM: I love the following lines that appear in “Nice Poetry” (Sheepish Beauty, Civilian Love):
We have to invent ourselves continually,
some of us use poems.
“Homes” not “poems” he shouted, that’s my
brother, eating more hay
& ruining the line breaks
What if I went out & did that to his fie
I am intrigued, among other things, by the images related to wheat and hay (which are intermingled with those related to your brother). There is a tradition of such writing in Canada: how do you see yourself working within a Canadian literary tradition? Or, rather, do you see yourself working within such a tradition? Has it been complicated by living in two entirely different provinces?
EM: I guess I just see myself working constantly, in languages and in mixtures of languages, and across borders of languages. I never have tried to analyze how I fit within a Canadian literary tradition…. that’s a diverse thing, and i’m part of the conversation, part of the diversity…
The hay is also hey….
LM: What would you say are your sources of inspiration, including those literary?
EM: Anything inspires me. I work at the interface of visual, pop, literary, language/s, see how language constellates, work with changes in our view of the page and substrate of writing, work with sound as well… and always, with that non-speech that comes before speaking (Agamben). To create or explore (for sometimes, mostly, there is no “me” separate from the world that is creating… there is a “me”ness in the world…) effects, meaning effects, on many levels. … Of course, as a person I am interested in history, genealogy, dispersion, feminism, social justice, race and gender/ing issues, so these enter into the work. And much of my work is done with others: mentoring, encouraging, challenging and being challenged, encouraged, mentored. The work of individuals grows in a community of endeavour and contributes to a conversation…
LM: And what is the conversation about right now, that is, in some of your current work?
EM: My current work seems to be reading other peoples’ work for the moment… just helping other writers who consult with me to move their work forward. There are many fine projects in translation and writing in Edmonton that I’m privileged to see these days as writer in residence at U of A.
On the side burner (not quite back) are a translation of Brazilian writer Wilson Bueno’s Mar Paraguayo, a tricky project for the original is written in Portunhol, a border language that mixes Spanish and Portuguese, with some words in Guaraní, an indigenous language. In some ways, perhaps, it is the quintessential American language…. and I am completing a translation of Chus Pato’s Secession, her biopoetics, and echoing it in a work of my own called Insecession, in which I try to address some of the same issues from the perspective of my own life and practice: memory, nation, poetics, translation, community, history. That book will be out next year from BookThug. I need to get back to doing a final revision of another work that combines poetry and theatre, Kapusta, for 2015 publication, and have another Pato on the horizon for 2016. And I am just starting a new book of poetry… The conversation is about many things, focussed on the creative act of writing poetry, as a way of working with and in language, and letting language itself teach us more about communication, possibility, social justice, and non-accumulation…