Five questions with… poet Sandra Ridley

Ottawa-based poet Sandra Ridley was the winner of Harbourfront Centre’s 2012 Poetry NOW competition. She’ll be at IFOA to share her latest poetry collection, Post-Apothecary.

IFOA: Why do you choose to write poetry over prose?

Ridley: Poetry is the most natural form for me. I’m not a story teller at heart.

For any genre, if the writing is done well, form and content are inseparable and mutually reinforcing. I’m curious about omissions and leaps of reasoning, and the more associative and fragmentary connections between fluidities—what makes for disorienting atmospheric elements or emotive motifs—and personally, poetry seems better suited to that stylistic bent.

IFOA: What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Ridley: The kind of atemporal day when I forget who I am and what my wants and needs are. Those days don’t happen very often, of course. But they happen more often when there is sunshine involved. And a warm lake. And sand dunes.

And a couple of cold bottles of Beau’s beer.

IFOA: You grew up on a farm. How has that influenced your writing?

Ridley: I’m not sure if it has influenced my writing at all, but perhaps it has influenced my writing process. I have a very high tolerance for long stretches of alone-time. Actually, I have a love for alone-time. (I had lots of it as a child – the closest town was a hamlet of twenty-six people.)

Removing myself from involvements—necessary engagements and typical distractions—helps me focus on work. I’ve been lucky these last few years to have had a handful of weeks away each summer. I’m relatively feral by the time I come back to the city.

IFOA: If you could time travel, where and when would you go, and why?

Ridley: May 21st, 1927.

27 Rue de Fleurus, Paris.

Late afternoon, leaving Toklas and Stein’s salon just in time to see “Lucky Lindy” Lindbergh cross overhead in his single-seat, single-engine monoplane – winning the Ortieg Prize, by being the first to fly non-stop and solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

I imagine that the Roaring Twenties would be a favoured time for a lot of writers. It was a period of movement and creation—booming prosperity. Flappers and cloche hats. Motion pictures, jazz, and the Golden Age of radio. Les Années Folles. I think for many, but maybe not all, it may have been a time when people could forget the human animal’s capacity for destruction.

I would’ve been dancing and I would have had no fear of dancing.

IFOA: Finish this sentence: I write best when I’m…

Ridley: Unconcerned with my expectations for a poem. Too often I let my inner-editor nay-say too early—so the words can’t accumulate. I wish I was a little more patient with the early stages of the writing process.

IFOA: Bonus question: This year’s International Festival of Authors in one word…

Ridley: Quaquaversal! (Bet you didn’t think I’d get that one…?!)

For more about Sandra Ridley’s appearance at IFOA, click here.

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