That which is “avant-garde” can be socially progressive or regressive, just as that which extends a tradition can be either as well. So “the new” isn’t necessarily the utopian key it’s often assumed to be, and “the old” is not always that which is best left behind. I’m most curious, in this time, about poetry that disregards this binary, and instead productively questions any lineage of influence.”
Welcome to the final part of thecanadaproject interviews poet Jordan Scott. Scott is the 2015/2016 SFU Writer in Residence. His books include Silt (New Star 2005), blert (Coach House 2008), DECOMP (Coach House 2013) and Clearance Process (SMALL CAPS 2016). His forthcoming long poem, Night & Ox is to be published by Coach House Books in the fall of 2016. Jordan lives in Port Coquitlam, BC.
RSS:Can you share a bit about your approaching to teaching as part of your residency…what I’m getting at here is, I often wonder, what it’s like for a “WIR” (writer in residence), when approached for commentary/feedback on writing, where you don’t necessarily have time to form teacher-student bonds, as you might in a classroom, over a longer period of time. As the new Surrey Poet Laureate, I’m really interested in learning about how to best serve writers in these sorts of roles.
JS: I’m coming to the end of my tenure as SFU Writer in Residence…it was an incredible experience. I agree that it’s difficult to create lasting bonds while Writer in Residence, as the consultation periods are so brief. I’m not really interested in telling people how to write or how to make a work better. I think I approached these meetings as simply a time to talk about poetry. I wanted to make sure that the person sitting across from me knew that I devoted time to only reading their work and that was listening. This for me, when friends read my work, is the greatest of gifts.
RSS: You’ve been both collaborator/agent of creation and the subject of film and audio studies. What’s that been like, that traversing the line between subject/object? What’s it like to both embody what is integral to us as poets, our “being/ness” (a stutter, the colour of one’s skin, our gender) and to mine if for material?
JS: I’m very conflicted about many of these experiences around the stutter and the poetics of the stutter. You’re right to say it’s a kind of ‘mining for material’ and this can be a very uncomfortable and disingenuous process. I’m not sure how great I’ve been at managing the complex web of art, professionalism and sincerity. I think most of the time my engagement with the stutter is a failure in the sense that it becomes part of an art project / object. I’m the object most of the time but – by extension – so are those who stutter. I have to say that most of the time there’s no art or poetry to stuttering at all. It mostly fucking sucks and I don’t want my kids to talk the way I do. I say this because I don’t want to get caught in some kind of redemptive trap of ‘overcoming obstacles’ because there’s nothing to overcome.
RSS:What’s next for Jordan Scott and have you already begun new writing?
“As a companion to TCR’s Pacific Poetries print issue (3.26), this edition of ti-TCR presents an archival selection from acclaimed artist and writer Roy Kiyooka’s “Pacific Windows” project, drawn from TCR 2.2 and 2.3. The work featured here includes an excerpt from the special “Pacific Windows” issue of Kiyooka’s photographs and text (TCR 2.3) as well as Kiyooka’s “Notes Toward a Book of Photoglyphs,” an epistolary poetic discussion printed in TCR 2.2 that develops ideas for the larger project. Founding TCR editor Pierre Coupey’s essay describes the process of editing the Kiyooka issue, and rob mclennan’s piece contextualizes the work further.
For their generosity, many thanks to the contributors and to the estate of Roy Kiyooka. Enjoy!”