In 2002, Nightwood published Where the Words Come From: Canadian Poets in Conversation, a successful first-of-its-kind collection of interviews with literary luminaries like Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Avison, Patrick Lane, Lorna Crozier and P.K. Page, conducted by “the younger generation” of poets of the day. Sixteen years later, What the Poets Are Doing brings together two younger generations of poets to engage in conversations with their peers on modern-day poetics, politics and more. Together they explore the world of Canadian poetry in the new millennium: what's changed, what's endured and what's next. An exciting “turn of the century” has evolved into a century characterized by social and digital media, the Donald Trump presidency, #MeToo empowerment and scandal, and Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation.
Should we look to our poets as our most articulate analysts and critics of these times? Are they competing with social media or at one with social media?
Poets in Conversation:
Elizabeth Bachinsky and Kayla Czaga
Tim Bowling and Raoul Fernandes
Dionne Brand and Souvankham Thammavongsa
Marilyn Dumont and Katherena Vermette
Sue Goyette and Linda Besner
Steven Heighton and Ben Ladouceur
Sina Queyras and Canisia Lubrin
Armand Garnet Ruffo and Liz Howard
Karen Solie and Amanda Jernigan
Russell Thornton and Phoebe Wang
Afterword co-written by Nick Thran and Sue Sinclair
About the author
Rob Taylor was born and raised in Port Moody, BC, and lives in Vancouver with his wife and son. He is the author of two books of poetry: The News (Gaspereau Press, 2016) and The Other Side of Ourselves (Cormorant Books, 2011). In 2017, The News was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, and in 2010 the manuscript for The Other Side of Ourselves won the Alfred G. Bailey Prize. He was the poetry editor at PRISM international in 2014–15. Rob has run a blog devoted to Canadian poetry, Roll of Nickels, since 2006. In 2015 he received the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for the Literary Arts as an emerging artist. He teaches Creative Writing at the University of the Fraser Valley.
“As a creative writing instructor, I’m finding so much in [What the Poets Are Doing] that I can share with my students to show the kind of lateral thinking involved in writing poetry, and that poetry isn’t written in a vacuum, but reflects and responds to the world we live in.” ~ Shashi Bhat
"What the Poets Are Doing is instructive.... each [interview] brings forward, variously, vital questions, thoughts, and ideas related to writing practice, poiesis, the body, family, community, isolation, place, position, racism, sexuality, freedom, and survival." ~ Deanna Radford, Arc Poetry Magazine, Fall 2019
Arc Poetry Magazine
The Ormsby Review