Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Cameron Anstee : part four

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

I have admiringly read the interviews at Sachiko Murakami’s The Hardest Thing About Being a Writer, and don’t want to repeat things that have already been so articulately discussed there. So first, I would direct anyone that hasn’t already to visit and read. On top of these things, for me, I struggle with patience (impatience), volume of projects, and time. I’m learning to sit on my work, and learning that it tends to improve when I do, but I’m also conscious of how long the first book took to write, and trying to be at peace with seeing that I might not write too many (if I even manage to write a second—the first feels like such a surprise now that it exists, I’m not quite sure how it happened). I also always try to keep in mind that the writing is just one small part of the community/continuum of small press action and people that I consider myself lucky to be connected to. There is a responsibility to be an engaged member of such communities as more than just a writer—you need to contribute in other ways. Be a chapbook maker, or run a reading series, or show up at readings and buy chapbooks, or research and write literary histories, or be a bookseller, or write reviews, or do amazing things like the CWILA count, or run magazines, or organize book fairs, etc. etc. etc. You need to find and make space for your own writing, but you also need to try to show up when you’re able and to do these other vital things. I run a very modest chapbook operation, but one that still requires a fair bit of time, and one that I feel like I never have enough time to even begin to make a dent in the list of poets I want to publish. I’m really trying to actively think about how much time I can give the press, and give my poetry, and find some kind of balance with and between the non-poetry things in my life. I see no way to write in isolation of these other things, and it is a negotiation I’m trying to figure out on a daily basis.

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