Tuesday, February 26, 2019

TtD supplement #127 : seven questions for Taryn Hubbard

Taryn Hubbard’s poetry, fiction, reviews, and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in journals and anthologies such as Canadian Literature, Room, The Capilano Review, Canadian Woman Studies, CV2, filling Station, Rusty Toque, Poetry is Dead, and others. She lives and writes in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, and has been a member of Room magazine’s editorial board since 2012. Her first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming in 2020.

Her poems “When You Get Lost,” “Above,” “Moon Schedule,” “In the Afternoon.” “May Be Fantasy” and “Weighted Keys” appear in the twentieth issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Tell me about the poems “When You Get Lost,” “Above,” “Moon Schedule,” “In the Afternoon.” “May Be Fantasy” and “Weighted Keys.”

A: These poems are from a project I’ve been working on for the past few years that explores home in the suburb—in the intersections, overlaps, and gaps between urban and rural. These are walking poems and driving poems. In growing suburbs across the country, there is a push to urbanize, to rethink this, often sprawling, space. Urban renewal is foreshadowed all over contemporary suburbs, where vacant single-family lots herald anticipation of redevelopment into something more, something better, something healthier. But before that happens, what do we make of the space as it sits today? What monuments anchor the suburb now? I’m also interested in looking at what creates visual repetitions along superblocks, which in the poems you mention are gas stations, fast food restaurants, flickering flat screen TVs, and cars. Suburbs are sometimes described generically as simply bedroom communities for commuters who work in the city, but I think they’re more than that.

Q: What prompted your interest in exploring the suburbs through poetry?

A: I started reading a lot of poetry where place was at the centre of the work—this inspired me to think about my own experiences in a suburban space through poetry as well. Plus I’ve always been interested in local history and walking around neighborhoods paying attention to text that pops up, such as billboards, handwritten posters, scrap papers, etc...these texts begin to tell a story about a place.

Q: You mention reading a lot of poetry on the subject of place: who have your models been for this kind of work?

A: So many. I’m always so inspired to write about place and memory when I read work by Roy Miki, Cecily Nicholson, Marie Annharte Baker, Jordan Scott, Juliana Sphar, Anne Fleming, Karen Solie, Sandra Ridley, Lyn Hejinian and, of course, Peter Culley, too.

Q: With a debut full-length collection forthcoming in 2020, how do you feel your work has developed? And are these poems part of that collection? Where do you see your work headed?

A: The poems here are a part of this collection. When I started writing them, I had no idea they would end up in a manuscript that I would eventually submit to publishers. I was really just thinking about where I was living at the time and how I experienced that space at present. I’d read other poets do it, so I thought I could try it too. I submitted these poems to literary journals and occasionally one would publish something, and this was a small light of encouragement. Then, I started thinking backwards. I wanted to reflect on where and how I grew up. So my manuscript looks at the suburb in transition with poems exploring suburban spaces as a woman, through the places I have lived throughout my life, and the streets I have walked, driven, and explored. These poems are very personal and draw on growing up in a family of labourers on a street where my neighbours took the form of a bar, a casino, and a bowling alley. Through this, themes of work, luck, family, and nature are explored in different ways in this collection.

As for my writing now, since becoming a parent earlier in 2018, I’ve been incorporating a lot of my thinking on this life change into my poetry. I’ve also been writing a lot more fiction. I’m on mat leave right now so whenever my baby naps, I try to get as much writing in as I can. I think I’ve become much more disciplined at utilizing these short 45 to 60 minute spurts. For me, it’s about getting words down in any which way and worrying about what I will do with them later through the editing process.

Q: Has the shift of attention and energy, given your newborn, altered the structure of your poems at all, or have your poems shifted purely in terms of content? I think of William Carlos Williams scribbling in between patients on his prescription pad, or Margaret Christakos engaging deeper with the fragment.

A: What a great question. Now that I think about it, yes, the structures of these newer poems have changed. I’m writing more in fragments or in prose-style chunks than I have before. Once I get to editing this could change, but for now I’m all about getting it down. Writing for me is a reflective process.

Q: Now that you’ve a full-length book forthcoming, are you noticing a difference in the ways in which you approach how your more recent work interacts? Are you more conscious of how poems might fit in with each other, or are you (with newborn) not thinking about that yet?

A: I think I’m more aware of how my writing fits together than before. With my new project I am interesting in exploring as much about the topic as I can. This includes researching various sources, which in turn opens my work up to more and more. The generative part of a project is always really exciting. Writing at the beginning of something is a feverish process of collecting and thinking and dreaming, and of quiet observation. Whether or not my new writings will become a manuscript, I'm not sure, though I hope it does.

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

A: A few of my favourite books that I can’t help but feel inspired from are Peter Culley’s Parkway, Lyn Hejinian’s My Life, Suzanne Buffam’s Past Imperfect, Lakshmi Gill’s During Rain, I Plant Chrysanthemums, Harryette Mullen’s Recyclopedia, to name a few poets. When I read work by Chris Kraus, Elizabeth Strout, Zadie Smith or Stephen King, I’m motivated to get writing. King’s memoir On Writing is a great read if I feel I’m starting to lose focus. I’ll also read literary magazines, either ones I subscribe to or frequent online, to get excited about the new things other writers are doing.

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