25th Trillium Award

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Trillium Takes Ontario: Matthew Tierney

Open Book loves Trillium season! Find out more about the talented authors nominated for the Trillium Book Award by following our special new series. We'll catch up with as many of these writers as we can in the lead-up to the awards announcement on Tuesday, June 18th. You can hear the finalists read from their nominated works on Monday, June 17th at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library. Visit Open Book's Events page for details.

Matthew Tierney was nominated for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry for his third collection, Probably Inevitable (Coach House Press). Today he tells us about the cocktail of David Lynch films and Americanos that fueled the writing of this outstanding new book.

Open Book:

What was one source of inspiration for your Trillium-nominated book, and how did that spark find its way into the final version of your project?

Matthew Tierney:

There are the expected sources: the compelling ideas you come across (in my case, on the science of time), the cracking-good poets you discover (Ben Lerner, Timothy Donnelly, Mary Ruefle), the lure of fame and fortune. These are the ones that carried me through the majority of Probably Inevitable.

But right near the end, after about three-quarters of the manuscript was written, I watched and re-watched all of David Lynch’s films. I like to think it encouraged me to untether image from narrative, to shade the comedy a bit darker. But perhaps this won’t be fully felt until my next book, tentatively titled Blue Cheesehead Drive.


What was an essential part of your writing routine while you worked on this book?


The usual essentials — drugs and rock n’ roll.

I’d hit my writing groove midway through my first Americano and start to peter out the back half of my third. I wrote with my headphones on, too; at a certain volume, the music helped me to focus. I think it had something to do with either sustaining a hermetic inner space or pumping me up.


What location in Ontario do you think would make the best writers' retreat, and why?


As a kid, I spent a portion of each summer with my grandparents, first on Rice Lake, then Marmora, and I continued to visit them throughout my twenties, driving up alongside the Trent River, through highways blasted out of the Canadian Shield. There’s something both quaint and hardscrabble about these small Eastern Ontario towns, with their white clapboard houses and their Canadian flags flying proudly in the hot, dry breeze.

Now, if only one of those houses were available, say, in Prince Edward County, preferably an A-frame, that once belonged to a legendary Canadian poet. Oh wait, there is. Maybe I should apply.

Matthew Tierney is a former recipient of the K.M. Hunter Award, and has placed his poems in numerous journals and magazines across Canada. His previous book, The Hayflick Limit (Coach House Press), was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. He lives in Toronto.

For more information about Probably Inevitable please visit the Coach House Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Visit the OMDC website to read more about the Trillium Book Award.


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