Billeh Nickerson is the author of five books including the City of Vancouver Book Award nominated Artificial Cherry. He is the former editor of PRISM international and Event, two of Canada’s most respected literary journals, and a co-editor of Seminal: The Anthology of Canada’s Gay Male Poets. He is also a former writer-in-residence at Queen’s, the University of the Fraser Valley, and at the Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon. He is permanent faculty and former Chair of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Creative Writing department in Surrey, BC. He lives—and loves—in Vancouver.
How did you first engage with poetry?
My high school Writing 12 class, where I’d write poems that I would sometimes read out, impromptu, to people in the cafeteria. In retrospect, these pieces were strange hybrids of stand-up (RIP Joan Rivers), youthful angst and a poet struggling to understand and develop form.
When I started at college I was fortunate to work with Jane Southwell Munro, who helped me understand more of the possibilities of poetry. I believe she and Lorna Crozier, who I worked with at the University of Victoria, have had the most profound impact on my work. I feel that much of my understanding on craft and poetic density stems from them.