Thursday, October 1, 2009

The sky is turning dark, the wind is howling, so why not get cozy and find out more about our next feature, Vancouver's Matt Rader?

ToF: You're mostly a page poet. How do you describe the difference between poetry for the page, and poetry for the stage? Or do you see a difference?

MR: The only difference I see between performance poets and page poets and visual poets is emphasis of particular tools. He likes the nail gun, he likes the hammer, he likes bashing it in with a rock. I think of myself as the emissary of the poem.

When I read and when I write, the poem is the performance.
ToF: According to your website you ran your own publishing company, Mosquito Press. What life lessons did you learn from entering the world of publishing?

MR: That it can be done. That it can be fun. And when it's not fun it's done.

ToF: Who are the poets that have most influenced your work? Why?
MR: Hard question actually. Hard to know when the influences are on me as a man or on my work.
Certainly Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley. Then Louis MacNeice, Auden, Yeats, Thomas Hardy. Then Keats, Herbert, Shakespeare. Virgil. Horace. It's kind of like the sweater that unravels if you pull one strand. What's a Heaney sonnet without a Yeats sonnet without Keats sonnet without a Shakespeare sonnet without a Dante sonnet, etc.

Lately it's been an Irishman named John Ennis. Perhaps the most underrated poet of his generation. I'd like to mention a few of my contemporaries in Canada though and a few older poets who made my work possible. Patrick Lane and Don McKay. Russell Thornton. Ken Babstock. David O'Meara. Elise Partridge. Elizabeth Bachinsky. Chris Hutchinson. All poets who I can feel elbowing me line by line.

Also, Matthew Hooton, who is my longest serving writing friend. Knowing he's out there has made all the difference. The work is what it is because of the relationship it has to both tradition and to community. That's how we make meaning: against what surrounds us.

ToF: What are the subjects that are really inspiring or engaging you right now?

MR: Dutch immigration to Canada. The body in pain. The trickster. Getting up in the morning.

ToF: On a lighter note, if your poetry was a flavour of icecream, what flavour would it be?

MR: Red cedar. Go ahead, think about it.

To check out Matt's many published works (and to see more photos!) visit

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