Wayde Compton is the author of two books of poetry, 49th Parallel Psalm (Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize finalist) and Performance Bond. He also edited the anthology Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature. His non-fiction book After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing, and Region was a City of Vancouver Book Award finalist in 2011. The same year, he was the Vancouver Public Library’s Writer in Residence. Compton is the director of the Writer’s Studio and the Southbank Writer’s Program at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies. The Outer Harbour, Compton’s first collection of short stories, won the 2015 City of Vancouver Book Award.
Renée Sarojini Saklikar writes thecanadaproject, a life-long poem chronicle that includes poetry, fiction, and essays. The first completed series was a book length poem, children of air india, (Nightwood Editions, 2013) about the bombing of Air India Flight , winner of the 2014 Canadian Authors Literary Award for poetry and a finalist for the 2014 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Award. Renée is currently a mentor and instructor for Simon Fraser University, and co-founder of the poetry reading series, Lunch Poems at SFU. Renée was recently appointed Poet Laureate for the City of Surrey.
The Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them
Wayde Compton and Renée Sarojini Saklikar, Anvil Press and SFU Public Square
(Questions answered by Renée Sarojini Saklikar with input from Wayde Compton)
Q. Can you tell us how The Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them seeks to build community and what this anthology of poetry says about community in Vancouver?
A. The work of the poets gathered into this book builds on the community of writers, poets, workers, students and member of the Vancouver public who attend Lunch Poems at SFU. This noon-hour poetry reading series seeks to enliven public space in the city’s downtown by creating space and voice for poetry and for discussions about poetry and language and what’s happening around us in the world, right now. We are a diverse, complicated culture, like any culture, and our words reflect those nuances.
Q. Can you tell us a bit more about the process of inviting the poets to write reflections on their poems, and why you decided to include these reflections?
A. Wayde and I, along with our wonderful managing editor Monica Miller, would meet and reflect on the work of the poets and in our discussions. We were reminded that poets don’t often get an opportunity to talk about “the story behind the poem” and indeed, sometimes, we poets, actively resist doing so! We wanted, I think, to take a look at the process behind the writing and we thought that doing so would offer readers a rare opportunity to “see inside the poet’s mind”: the reflections are intimate and you almost feel as if you are reading a letter the poet’s written, just for two…
Q. This book of poetry is extremely diverse, in terms of topics, styles, approaches, points of view, poets, etc. How did this notion of diversity factor into your editing process?
A. My sense is that it’s just what happens naturally when we are open to The Other, when we celebrate and inquire into the breadth and depth of what poetry is, both past and present. The norm is diversity; we see that everywhere on this planet.
Q. How was the process of editing as a team? Can you speak to the process, given that you are both accomplished poets in your own right?
A. Meeting with Wayde and Monica (managing editor), downtown at SFU Vancouver on Hastings street, with the books of our poets piled up around us, reading, sifting, discussing, selecting, then placing the poems in first one sequence and then in another: that was both a very demanding and beautiful experience: concentrated, thoughtful, instructive.
Q. Do either of you have any public events (festivals, readings, podcasts, etc.) taking place in 2016 that we can help to promote? When and where are they?
A. I am thrilled to be at Word Vancouver in the afternoon as both a reader and a presenter Sunday, September 25, at the Vancouver Public Library, further details on the Word Vancouver site.
2:00 pm The Long Poem, Chapbooks, and Sustenance: Keeping the Journey
With Stephen Collis, Marguerite Pigeon, and Jordan Scott. Moderated by Renée Sarojini Saklikar.
ABOVE/GROUND PRESS READINGS (Host: Heidi Greco)
4:15 pm Stephen Collis (Adopted by: book’mark, The Library Store)
New Life (above/ground press $4.00)
4:20 pm Renée Sarojini Saklikar (Adopted by: Hager Books)
After the Battle of Kingsway, the bees (above/ground press $4.00)
4:25 pm lary timewell
Odds Are (above/ground press $4.00)
As well, Lunch Poems at SFU kicks off our Fall Season with B.C. Poet Mona Fertig who is also the publisher of indie Mother Tongue Publishing and Vancouver poet, Timothy Shay, 12 -1 pm, downtown SFU Vancouver, Teck Gallery, 515 W Hastings. Free and bring your lunch!
And as Surrey Poet Laureate, I’m always doing events! A few highlights: September 26, I’m hosting a writing workshop for teens and seniors out in Cloverdale to explore “surrey stories” and I’ll host similar workshops for Punjabi speaking seniors in October and then I’ll be out at Historic Stewart Farm in November. Details available via Surrey Libraries.
The City of Vancouver Book Award features an eclectic shortlist in 2016 that includes a non-fiction memoir, a poetry anthology and an art exhibition catalogue. This remarkably diverse set of books explores complicated visions of a city grappling with its past and striving for a better future. View the 2016 finalists. The winner of the 2016 Vancouver Book Award will be announced at the awards ceremony on October 3, 2016.