with Jade Wallace:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Jade: I probably started writing at the usual age, four years old or whenever they make you learn that sort of thing in school. At that point, I was mostly influenced by teachers saying things like, “No, the word skunk does not have a C in it.”
I eventually started in on poetry when I was eight, at which time I was enamoured with rhyming couplets. Fortunately, I soon after began to dabble in free verse, having been persuaded of its value by the authoritatively titled anthology Good Poems, a book I studied as if it were a holy text.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Jade: I’ve logically moved from reading Good Poems to reading great poems—and great fiction, too—though I have to say, I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m under anyone’s writerly influence. If I thought anyone else’s work was perfect, I wouldn’t write my own (and if I thought my own work was perfect, I’d stop writing).
I suspect that my biggest influences these days are not writers at all, but everyday people and the strange events that define their lives.
Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Jade: I started writing, as a child, thinking it would someday bring me money, power, and glory, and when I realized it almost certainly wouldn’t, I decided to get into legal work instead, which provided money at least. But it was too late. Writing was already a gremlin clinging to my ankle and I can’t seem to get away from it.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
I have. There is no choice but to be my own best friend when it comes to writing. I have to give myself pep talks, and prod myself to continue even when it’s difficult, and remain calm even when I only have my own obnoxious thoughts to keep me company. No one cares about my work as much as I do, and no one should have to.
Second to me in helpfulness, however, are a few people. Mark Laliberte, my partner, collaborator, and confidante, with whom I have nearly daily conversations about the artistic life. Laurie Wallace, my mother, the only person who will reliably tell me my work is good, even when it’s not—having one person like this in one’s life is indispensable, though having more than one seems inadvisable. Kamila Rina, a rare writer and friend who I can both edit and be edited by, and with whom I meet regularly to get through the grind of submissions.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?
I grew up in a working-class family in a small town that was surrounded by apple and stone fruit orchards and that was coming slowly out of its industrial phase. The summers of my teenage years were spent working on a horse farm. We always had books, of course, neverending books, but I really knew nothing about the so-called literary world.
After university, I moved to a big city and I was just like the town I had come from—wanting to leave my past behind but unsure of what I should become. It was awkward, but I acclimated somewhat to white-collar, middle-class mores, and I slowly began to understand how professional publishing works, but even now I feel I’m on the edge of it, self-conscious of not being urbane enough for such slick circles. And somehow, my writing is almost never about the city. It’s full of peach trees, and manual labourers, and horses.
Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?
Jade: I swear it’s a kind of curse, but I’m most often most excited about whichever writing project I just finished. So right now it’s my second poetry manuscript, The Work Is Done When I Am Dead, which I’m not quite ready to call complete yet, but it’s very close. It’s a strange book, the most ornate and elaborate writing I have done to date, though it takes as its subject the mundane efforts that make up daily life.
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Jade: I would love to be the kind of person who can actually relax, but mostly I am the kind of person who can be enjoyably distracted for brief intervals. My preferred diversions include doing crossword puzzles, talking to the plants in our garden, and looking for that one piece of clothing at a garage sale or thrift shop that makes me laugh with delight. I should also mention that I am a normal person who watches TV.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?
Oh, so many. I am a terrible creature who dog ears pages and underlines favourite passages in nearly all the books I read. But here is a stanza from Rahat Kurd’s Cosmophilia (Talon Books, 2015), which I picked up by happy chance one day from the Toronto poetry bookstore, knife | fork | book:
We’ll visit you
at waking’s edge
in the little bones of your ears.
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
Jade: Well, I just recently signed a contract for my debut poetry collection, Love Is A Place But You Cannot Live There, which will be coming out with Guernica Editions in 2023. That’s a ways off, I know, but it’s a book full of ghost-hunting, road trips, psychogeography, and bisexual love affairs, so I’m quite thrilled about its eventual manifestation.
Also, the collaborative writing entity I’m part of, MA|DE, recently had two chapbooks published: A Barely Concealed Design (Puddles of Sky Press, 2020) and A Trip to the ZZOO (Collusion Books, 2020), which have the great benefit of being currently available to buy and read.
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