Thursday, November 21, 2013

An interview with David Fraser -- poet

How/why did you start to write?

My earliest memory of writing was before I really had a grasp of the alphabet. I recall writing on the backs of discarded envelopes and composing my own stories about Peter Pan and the Cisco Kid. The writing was mere scribbles. Later in middle school I began writing poetry. Unfortunately in grade seven a teacher accused me of handing in a poem that my mother had written. I should have taken this as a complement but rather closed myself off after such an accusation. During high school I was writing all the time but keeping it to myself, as well as reading everything I could that interested me.

 I was fortunate to have two mentors in university, one was Margaret Avison, who twice won Canada's Governor General's Award and has also won its Griffin Poetry Prize.  The other was Margaret Aitkin. During that time both these mentors opened up their offices for informal discussions and the writing of poetry.  Also I was encouraged to publish my work and a number of poems were published in the University of Toronto anthology publications.

 Why I started to write is a mystery. Probably I can saw it was a means of exploring possibilities.


How did you become an author?

I would say as soon as I started writing, I considered myself an author. During my university years I was published and that made me feel I was a writer. However I pursued a career in teaching at the secondary and senior school levels, and although I continued to write, I had little time to pursue an active marketing campaign to publish a lot of my work. Nearer the end of my teaching career, I began publishing my work and for the last 18 years I have been published in many on-line and print journals as well as anthologies and my own collections.

What was your first published piece?

Probably the first published poem is “If”. It is a love poem to my first wife. Miraculously enough it was the first poem that I received a royalty cheque, ( $5.00 in 1979) since a Toronto composer used a few lines of my poem along with lines by Irving Layton for lyrics in a performed composition called Ex Tenebris.

Where was it published?

“If” was published in in complete by C.E. University of Toronto

How long ago?

1970

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

As I mentioned my main career was in education, where I taught primarily English, English Literature and Creative Writing. Obviously the content and the process of teaching others to write and work with text kept me always in a mode close to the written word. However I have worked as a baker, bartender, waiter, factory worker, ski instructor, and travelled. All of these experiences provide the raw material for my writing. Basically I see myself mining the sediment of my life, the newly deposited particles of current every day and also the deep layers that have been laid down over time.

What inspires you?

Life inspires me. I live in a location that is remote from large cities. I can walk outside my door, take the dogs for a run in the bush, go down to the sea, stare up at the mountains that sit across the strait to the mainland or look at the peaks of the mountains that from the ridge that runs the length of Vancouver Island. I am always active, whether it is writing, gardening, hiking and playing sports. People inspire me and I with my small publishing company and with the spoken word event, WordStorm, that I co-founded and run monthly out of Nanimo, I feel I am paying it forward, giving aspiring and established writers an opportunity to share their work either on the page, the computer screen or on the stage. That’s what inspires me.

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique

I am currently working on a crime noir novel and will either self-publish or use a traditional trade publisher to present my book to the world. That will be a different experience than marketing poetry, since poetry is such a small segment of what people read these days. In terms of poetry, I believe, the live performance, either as a reading from a collection or as a spoken word, no paper, presentation is the best and most entertaining way to market my art. I enjoy the live audience. That is where you connect your words to individuals. Otherwise, it is also a good idea to have a web site, possibly a blog if you have the time and regiment to do so. Joining writers organizations is also a good idea. I belong to the Federation of BC Writers and in the past have served as a Rep for the Vancouver Island Region. I also belong to the League of Canadian Poets and receive funding for readings through being a member. I find that the more I do to help others, the more comes back to me in terms of author platform building.

Parting words

My writing comes from a process of accumulating sediment. Experience, imagination, truth and lies are laid down over time in layers and these layers are compressed by the weight of living. These are the strata that I mine to hone my craft.

Each moment in a day inspires me. However it is so hard to stay in the moment when the past, with its boxes of overlapping memory, beckons me to mine the sediment of my life, and of course when the future teases me with expectation and prediction. I find true joy when I can smash the moment, and be attentive to what is happening. It is then that I am a witness and an inspired observer on this fleeting journey. Perhaps it is then that a small round pebble on a beach will catch my eye and I will roll it along the tips of my fingers in meditative silence, before I stow it away in the depths of a pocket.


Links
Canadian League of Poets Page http://poets.ca/members_data/node/522
AA Publishing http://www.ascentaspirations.ca/aapublishing.htm


David Fraser

Writer, Poet, Spoken Word Performer, Publisher, Editor

David Fraser lives in Nanoose Bay, on Vancouver Island. He is the founder and editor of Ascent Aspirations Magazine, www.ascentaspirations.ca since 1997. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Rocksalt, An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry. He has published five collections of poetry; Going to the Well, 2004, Running Down the Wind, 2007, No Way Easy, 2010, Caught in My Throat, 2011 and, Paper Boats, 2012 and a collection of short fiction, Dark Side of the Billboard, 2006. In addition David has co-authored with Naomi Beth Wakan, On Poetry an inspirational book on poetics and poetry. To keep out of trouble he helps develop Nanaimo's spoken-word series, WordStorm. www.wordstorm.ca. In October 2009 and 2010 he participated in Random Acts of Poetry, a national poetry program that brings poetry to the streets of Canada. David is a full member of the League of Canadian Poets and is available for performances and readings via funding with LCP.

1 comment:

Laurie Buchanan said...

I love your observation:

"My writing comes from a process of accumulating sediment. Experience, imagination, truth and lies are laid down over time in layers and these layers are compressed by the weight of living. These are the strata that I mine to hone my craft."