Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Q&A with poet Andreas Gripp

For today’s Q&A, I am pleased to introduce Andreas Gripp, a London ON poet. Andreas is the author of eleven books of poetry and eight chapbooks. His poetry has also been published in a number of literary magazines and anthologies, including Ascent Aspirations, Literary Review of Canada, Carousel, and The Toronto Quarterly. For more information, be sure to visit his website,

At 175 pages, Anathema is your largest collection to date. How did you know it was time to put together a collection of new and selected poems?
Well I wanted reader favourites (plus my own favourites) to be easily found in one collection, and after 10 books, I suppose it was time for a "greatest hits" so to speak. In addition, I found myself constantly going back and revising poems, finding little flaws in earlier versions published in previous books, and thought it might be swell to revise them to my satisfaction, include my best ones that were just fine, and add a few new offerings to make the book feel fresh.

I also wanted to take the opportunity to "reboot" my poetry career and have something "new" for people reading my work for perhaps the very first time. These are the poems that "define" my first decade as a poet and I'd be content if I suddenly passed away and this was the surviving legacy.

Care to give a brief taste of what we'll find inside Anathema?
Readers will find an assortment of poems on loneliness and loss, relationships-that-end-badly, verses on love as well as a love-that-can-never-be-for-whatever-reason, discovering the divinity in nature, finding solace in death, as well as some bizarre, offbeat characters and a poetic perspective on some societal issues -- much of which written in a metered, lyrical narrative.

Do you write every day? Do you have a 'schedule' or other habits to keep the muse working?
That's the worst thing a poet can do, in my opinion. If I force myself to write a poem or do it because it's on my "schedule of things to do," then it becomes a mechanical exercise. There are already way too many poems in the world (a great deal of which seem "recycled") -- we can't keep up with them all! Less is more (which may make me appear hypocritical because of the amount of books and chapbooks I've released), and I prefer to allow an idea for a poem to come to me. Sometimes it's just a word that needs expanding, or a vignette that needs to be told.

Most of my poems are about other people (fictional bits inspired by some episode of reality) so this makes it easier, perhaps, for me to have lots to write about. Were I to write about my own dull life (which I'm afraid too many poets do in relation to themselves), I'd run out of ideas in a hurry.

In terms of managing my creative time, if I have a good block to allot for writing, I might sit in front of a white screen for a bit and see if anything has inspired me... if nothing, then I'll do something else.

Your work has been included in a number of international journals. What are some of your favorite journals to read and why?
Well actually, the majority of my individual poems published have appeared in more obscure anthologies than journals as I don't send out my work that often, really -- the whole process is too tedious.

In terms of what I read in relation to journals, I find a lot of them to be pretentious and don't read too many on a regular basis (this particularly applies to the government-funded CanLit contingent). However, there are times when I'll read through some literary magazines like Poetry (based in Chicago) as I find the quality is better than most (and at least they have some validity to be snobbish). Within Canada, Ascent Aspirations (out of B.C.) is pretty decent and you'll find a variety of voices and styles inside its pages -- very reader-friendly I'd say. ARC (based in Ottawa) has its moments.

Your work has received some very positive reviews. What sort of challenges do you encounter when playing the dual role of poet and publicist?
Promoting one's work is a "necessary evil" it seems -- many writers (including me) would rather just write and do some easy-to-get-to readings. Although it is much easier nowadays to publicize your work with all of the online networking available, there's also a lot more competition. Everybody and their grandmother has a book out it seems, and the challenge for me and any writer really is to present their work as something different, words that haven't been said before.

It would be simpler, of course, to have a contract with a bigger publisher and have them book my reading dates, author signings, etc... but I'm forced to do the promotional end myself which means I don't have the clout of a big press behind me or a revered imprint on the spine of my books which guarantees a review in the Globe & Mail or an invitation to Harbourfront. I'm grateful though, that those who've embraced my work, though the numbers be relatively small, are nonetheless very supportive and vocal, and that has kept me going.

Since you often participate in group readings, would you like to share any of your upcoming appearances so readers know where to see you live and in person?
At the moment, sorry to say, there's nothing else scheduled this winter. I don't like driving out-of-town between December and March (been caught in blizzards before and they're extremely unnerving to be stuck in), but when spring arrives, hopefully I'll have some gigs lined up. Since I'm more of a regional poet and don't like travelling, I'd likely stick to another London, Ontario event or do the Hamilton-Oakville-Toronto corridor. I'd also like to read in Sarnia as it's closeby and has a pretty neat scene by the looks of it. I wish there was something happening in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area...

What's next for you?
I've been writing some new poems and I'm gradually putting together my next book manuscript, tentatively titled The Fall. It might be fitting for it to come out next fall, we'll see. I also have another haiku chapbook I'd like to release in 2010. I keep saying I'll go on an indefinite hiatus but that never seems to happen...


Remember to visit for more information, or to order Anathema.
There are more author Q&As in the works, so be sure to bookmark the blog and visit often.
Thanks for stopping by!

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