25th Trillium Award

In Conversation with David Maltby and Rick Patrick

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David Maltby

David Maltby of Ampersand Productions has just recently created a short film, entitled Living Poetry with Rick Patrick, and sent it to us at Open Book: Ontario. The short film follows poet R. D. Patrick, whose books Histories and The Stonehaven Poems have both been longlisted for the ReLit Prize, on the last stop of his book tour: his hometown, Sault Ste. Marie. The film features Patrick reading his poems at various locations in the city, as well as discussing how he became a poet and his views on poetry.

To help promote Living in Poetry (the DVD has yet to find a home), Open Book asked both David and Rick a few questions. In their answers, David and Rick elaborate on many of the topics touched upon in the film, discussing the meaning behind the title of the DVD, the origins of the film project Living Poetry and their ambitions for their film.

Open Book:

The title of your short film is ?Living Poetry.? Can you elaborate on what this means? Do you describe your poetry in this way, or is living poetry a kind of poetry?

Rick Patrick and David Maltby:

David, the video producer chose this title because it has a subtle double meaning. Poetry should be living, to be enjoyed, to perplex us, to conjure images and thoughts that otherwise may not occur to us. And the subtitle ?....with Rick Patrick? is part of the title because Rick himself lives and breathes poetry. At the moment he doesn?t write poetry but when he walks the dogs, cuts wood, watches nature unfold, he?s steeped in poetry. The real stuff.


What interested you to focus your film on Rick Patrick? Is ?Living Poetry? a potential series that focuses on particular poets and Rick is just the beginning?

RP & DM:

Rick?s wife Bonnie is David?s piano teacher and over the years that he?s been taking piano lessons, he got to chat with Rick, learned about his adventures as a poet, his early days, and it was Rick who suggested that his story might make for an interesting documentary. David sensed that there was no imperative on Rick?s part for a promotional piece. He had an engaging story to tell, a difficult childhood, confusion and anger with the world around him and finally some solace and redemption by setting words down on paper — poetry.


Rick Patrick started writing shortly before he retired from teaching. Do you feel there has to be a necessary disconnection between writing and teaching poetry?

RP & DM:

Rick started writing poetry in 1995 while still teaching in high school until retirement in 2000. He sees no disconnect between writing and teaching poetry. Every public reading is for Rick a shared lesson in life. Every poem has lessons to teach.


In Living Poetry, Rick hoped that he would have some closure with his past, yet he?s still unsure by the end of the video. Do you think writing poetry is, in a way, a search for closure? Or, put another way, do you think the impossibility of receiving closure is what enables you to write; that writing is this infinite approach towards closure, yet it never arrives at closure?

RP & DM:

Poetry is a search for closure, but what is closure? The impossibility of closure is what enables and compels us to find the poetry in the world we inhabit. It is indeed an infinite attempt at closure, without even arriving there. Poems are never finished; they are only abandoned as we move on.
Consolation is perhaps a more realistic goal than closure.


Does David write poetry? If so, do you have anything in common with Rick regarding poetry?

RP & DM:

David does not write poetry but tries for poetic moments in his film making.


What is your overall aim for Living Poetry?

RP & DM:

Both David as video producer and Rick the poet know that poetry can be a ?tough sell.? But they believe there?s an engaging and informative story for anyone out there who loves and works with words. Oh yeah, one more thing — they would like distribution sales to recover at least some of costs in producing Living Poetry with Rick Patrick.

David Maltby is a veteran film maker with hundreds of titles to his credit including drama, documentary, music videos and TV commercials all made through his company Ampersand Productions Ltd. As writer, producer, director and editor, his work covers a wide variety of subjects: the arts, agriculture, sports, environment, international development, science and social issues. While most of his productions originate in Canada, he has worked in over 30 countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the Carribean. For David, making Living Poetry with Rick Patrick was a delight. He didn?t have to deal with international airports because Rick lived almost in his backyard near Madoc, Ontario.

Rick Patrick was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and later attended the University of Western Ontario where he earned a degree in Honours English and Philosophy. He later taught English and drama in Etobicoke for 30 years. Rick started writing poetry in 1995 at the age of 48 and eventually published poems in literary journals and magazines across Canada, including The Antigonish Review, Prairie Fire, Grain and Event. His first collection of poems, entitled Histories was published by BuschekBooks (Ottawa) in 2005 and was longlisted for the ReLit Poetry Prize 2006. His second collection, The Stonehaven Poems was published by Your Scrivener Press (Sudbury) in 2010 and was also longlisted for the ReLit Prize. Most of the poems in this second collection were written at Stonehaven, his rural property north of Madoc, Ontario where Rick lives with his wife Bonnie and their three Alaskan Malamutes. Plenty of stone, plenty of haven. A place of relative safety and sanity in a world fixated on apocalypse.

For more information about R. D. Patrick's books, Histories and The Stonehaven Poems, please visit the BuscheBooks website and the Your Scrivener Press.

Buy these books at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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