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From Degrassi to Bona’s

Name: Sandy Pool (“Not a stagename, believe it or not!”)

Education: Honors B.A Theatre Performance, M.F.A.Poetry and Theatre, Ph.D. Poetics and Trauma Theory

Occupation: poet, former Degrassi: The Next Generation writer and visiting assistant professor of English/Creative Writing at St. Bonaventure University

Her Campus: “Off the top of your head – what are three poems that, for whatever reason, you think had the biggest impacts in the literary world?”

Sandy Pool: “I wouldn’t venture to guess which three poets have had the overall biggest effect on the literary world (probably depends on your aesthetic) but here are three great poets: Ken Babstock, Lydia Davis and Cole Swensen.”

HC: “What got you involved in poetry? Are there any specific influences, people or themes, that motivated your early writing?”

SP: “I think my parents gave me a curiosity for the natural world, which certainly seeped into my writing. They were constantly giving me books on a variety of subjects which kept me motivated to learn about the world. I think reading broadly is extremely useful for a poet.”

HC: “Your poetry is at times written from a political angle. Do you have any commentary on current politics? Anything that might lead to another collection?”

SP: “I think that all writing is political, in some sense. Personally, a lot of my work centers around gender politics. As for a new book, I think I am writing a kind of memoir, which will be an interesting departure from my earlier work.”

HC: “What led you to St. Bonaventure?”

SP: “Well, I finished my Ph.D. quite recently, so I felt very lucky to secure the job at St. Bonaventure! I was looking for a new adventure, so I was happy to travel and learn about New York. I still have an apartment in Montreal, but I’m happy to keep travelling and learning about new places as I take on new roles.”

HC: “Is there a certain quality of work or a certain inspirational spark that you look for and expect from students? If so, what is it?”

SP: “I love learning from students. They always surprise me! Personally, I’m most interested in developing each student’s unique poetic voice. I truly believe that students in all disciplines can learn transferable skills from taking a poetry class. I always look forward to meeting students and helping them nurture their own poetic gifts.”

HC: “In the current world of poetry, who do you view as leading figures and who is being erroneously overlooked?”

SP: “I think that there are many writers who are often overlooked for their embracing of the prose poem format. I think writers like Maggie Nelson, Lydia Davis and Sarah Manguso are doing exciting new things with the form, and I’m excited to see how the form develops.”

HC: “Have you discovered anything about yourself and your writing through your experiences teaching? Does having taught poetry give you a new lens through which to write poetry?”

SP: “I read a lot of pedagogy, and I always find it interesting to listen to writers who teach creative writing. I think, sometimes there is a tendency to make creative writing overly academic in the academy, so I’m interested in a kind of pedagogy that combines academic and non-academic approaches to teaching. I think I have learned that it is important to be specific and identify different ways of thinking through a poem that engages student’s individual learning approaches.”

HC: “As a fan of poetry, what do you get excited seeing contemporary writers do or try?”

SP: “I get excited when writers try forms of poetry they haven’t tried before. Once you have a couple of books out, I think it’s pretty easy to get stale or lean on one particular kind of writing as a crutch. I have learned that doing the exercises I assign to my students is very valuable for me and breaks me out of old patterns. That is certainly something I’ve learned from teaching!”

HC: “What was it like writing for Degrassi? Are there any other surprising credits in your portfolio? How different is writing for television and writing as a poet?”

SP: “Working in television writing rooms has been excellent experience for me. I think it really changes the way you understand dramatic tension, and it has been invaluable to me as a theatre artist and poet. You really have to have a sense of pauses, music and character. These skills are something that I have certainly exploited in my poetry and dramatic writing. I also write quite a bit of opera, so the television work has been really helpful there too.”

HC: “In today’s modern age of media, do you think poetry still has a role to play as a conveyer of artistic expression when faced with competition from television, film and other multi-media experiences?”

SP: “I think poetry always has a role to play, especially in an increasingly technology-focused world. I think of memes and tweets as small poems. Despite claims that poetry is obsolete, it is still the most ‘googled’ word on the internet after the world ‘Bible’. I think that we turn to poetry to find poetic truths we can’t find anywhere else. Poetry exists as a singularity in the universe, and that is both its beauty and its power.”

HC: “I took a poetry class with you and it truly helped me discover identity as a writer. What would you consider cardinal rules for anyone trying to break into the field?”

SP: “Oh I hate rules, as you know. But I think reading widely is probably the best advice I could give any young writer. Read anything you can get your hands on. Sometimes non-poetic texts form the best basis for lyric poetry!”

HC: “From pre-publication to Exploding Into Night to Undark to now, have you consciously noticed your evolution as a writer? Do you have a sense of what your next step would be? Is there something you’re itching to try?”

SP: “Oh, I never have a sense of my next step. (sigh) The more books I write, the more I like to approach the process of writing with a sense of wonder and insecurity. It isn’t an insecurity with my capabilities as a writer anymore but insecurity as a way of thinking through writing a poem. It leaves open the possibility for surprise, which I think is a positive thing.”

HC: “After this year, what’s in the future for Sandy Pool?”

SP: “More adventures! And hopefully many more books!”

 

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Just a little egg growing up in the big city.
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