25th Trillium Award

Poets in Profile: Roz Bound

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Roz Bound

Prince Edward County poet Roz Bound is the author of numerous poetry collections including Spirit of Lyme (2003). Her latest collection is The Fireman?s Child (2012), a book that explores compassion and forgiveness. Inspired by discoveries about her father after his death, this book shows Roz's path to accepting and loving her father for his imperfections. In today?s Poets in Profile interview, Roz reveals how the inspiration for her poem "Elasticity" came on a road trip with her 14-year-old daughter, divulges the roots of her interest in poetry as a three-year-old and tells us why she doesn?t wish she had written any poem other than her own (despite her great admiration for many other poets and their poems).

Roz will be reading from The Fireman?s Child on April 10th, 2013 in Toronto. Please view the event details here. Roz will also be at two other Ontario events, one on April 20th, 2013 at the Belleville Public Library and the other on April 21st, 2013 at the Moonshine Café in Oakville. Please view the event details for the Belleville event here. For more information about the Oakville event, please click here.

Open Book:

Can you describe an experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a poet?

Roz Bound:

Many experiences encouraged me: my mother taught me to read and write at three and I filled books with stories and poems — one was published in the local paper when I was six. But after winning several first prizes in high school, 40 years of life got in the way. I was always writing something but not much poetry — until 2000 when I chose essay writing as my M.F.A. concentration and then proceeded to spend any spare time writing poems. In 2002, I retired from teaching and spent a ?gap year? by the sea in England. That was my turning point — I became hooked and wrote all day every day!! My first collection written there, Spirit of Lyme, was a labour of love. I remember describing myself as "writer," instead of "teacher" or "mother," and it felt incredibly empowering.


What is the first poem you remember being affected by?


As a lonely child with a vivid imagination, I read Robert Louis Stevenson?s ?The Land of Counterpane? every night for ages, and I see now that it influenced a poem I wrote 50 years later. Also as a child, I cut out poems by Patience Strong from my mother?s weekly magazines, pasting them in scrapbooks. My attitude to life must have been partly influenced by her pastoral, almost mystical style of simplicity and faith in nature. But in the ?80s, I found Gloria Andzaldúa?s poetry and prose, and Borderlands/La Mestiza remains one of the most powerful and gritty books I have ever treasured. Her ability to be totally transparent in the in-between — in between everything: homelands, colour, sexuality, even life and death — encouraged authenticity in my own writing and I often return to it to be awed by her anger, agony and passion.


What one poem — from any time period — do you wish you had been the one to write?


No poem. I return them back to their poets with gratitude, not wishing I?d written them. I may admire the work of Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver and Adrienne Rich, and emulate the form of a P.K. Page glosa, or try to write of love like Pablo Neruda, but I let their words soak into the rich compost that feeds my own, rather than waste time wishing for the impossible.


What has been your most unlikely source of inspiration?


Most of my sources are unexpected — two seagulls sharing a noisy and precarious intimate moment on a rooftop once led to a poem that unearthed a personal revelation about my feet! And then there was the war in Iraq — in 2003 I wrote a collection responding to the awful daily news. I certainly wouldn?t have planned that, but it was the only way I could cope with it all — in poetry. One highly unlikely inspiration came when I was driving out west with my then 14-year-old daughter who kept pulling at the loose skin on my right elbow, laughingly comparing it to her youthfully elastic flesh that sprang quickly back to bone. I was awake all that night in a motel somewhere in North Dakota writing "Elasticity," which turned out to be a love poem.


What do you do with a poem that just isn't working?


After I?ve reached the point of overworking a poem, it gets put to one side, maybe never to be seen again. However, it usually floats somewhere deep inside me, emerging later in another disguise. Sometimes the sticking point wakes me in the middle of the night — I just have to follow the thread back into the elusive otherworld to find the answer. If I have any practical investment in the poem, as well as the urgent need to write it! — a time limit or a request — it lives behind everything I do. It has me. Usually it rewrites itself in time but whether I?m happy with it or not is another thing altogether.


What was the last book of poetry you read that really knocked your socks off?


I could never forget Kapka Kassabova?s Someone Else?s Life (2003). ?. . . a book of perpetual exile, of endless comings and goings, in a world that offers neither stability, nor salvation.? Her poems remind me of Andzaldúa?s work in their heartbreaking reality, and also of my own nomadic life spent walking the edge on uncertain ground. Kassabova?s writing is exquisite, lyrical and confident. I am now reading her revealing autobiography, written as musically as her poetry.


What is the best thing about being a poet?and what is the worst?


The best thing about being a poet is everything to do with being a poet: the rituals around my writing, the waking with words, the trust I have that they will emerge, the surprise at revelatory metaphors and images that show up on the page, the intensity of late-night editing, sharing with others and their writing. Losing any sense of time, for sure. The worst? — the dreaded dry spell.

In "the County," Roz Bound facilitates writing workshops, bi-monthly Open Floor nights, founded the ?In-formed Poets? group and coordinates an annual anthology of local writers every International Women?s Day. Her poems and essays have been published in magazines and books in North America and England, including A Room of Her Own. Roz?s first poetry collection, Spirit of Lyme (2003), is now in its third printing. The Fireman?s Child (2012), honours a journey of compassion and forgiveness.

For more information about The Fireman?s Child please visit the SoulSpirit website.

Buy this book at Books & Company in Picton or online at Roz Bound?s website SoulSpirit.

1 comment

Good interview. And I enjoyed your recent appearance at http://bit.ly/ZwCdsp


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