Friday, December 27, 2019

Talking Poetics #7 : Pearl Pirie

talking (Ottawa) poetics

Running on the red line made for a lot of words. My emotional intensity came across but people often had no idea what I was saying. I write very little now, compared to before anxiety meds.

I used to be “sent” by anything; a phrase, a concept, a scrabble board word combo. I’d riff or recant who I was reading. I would search notes for a electrical pulse and connect up all the pulses, organizing by energy rather than (conventional) sense. I wrote to focus so I could hear just one train conversation at a time instead of the whole busy train station. To that end it did its work. I went intuitively impulsively against the currents of gravity wells I pushed this vessel to solid ground. I want to look at the how and why more than the what, what, what.

Whereas I was diverting a lot of energy to shields and to monitoring communications arrays, now I’m a cartographer.

Before, if I let myself write automatically, I feared it would reinforce the old ideologies I wanted to eject. Mechanical procedures of poetry were an out, to redirect and retrain the brain not to entrench along old easy paths. Even prepositional phrases were suspect because of all the grammatical branching hierarchies. Phrases, fragments, insistence on partial understanding, and process allowed the self to move freely, explore.

I used to worry that I’d lose vital inspiration in the shower or as I go to sleep, but a poem nags at me for weeks and I have to honour that with space and time.

I’ve become aware of how little I contextualize myself, how I jump in mid-way. I’m trying to use the potentially slower pace of writing to my advantage to work out what is relevant to convey. I aim to map what I want to carry forward with me, what matters to me and others. I write as a practice of mindfulness. I’m largely editing to understand what I wrote, 6, 10, 15 years ago. This substantive editing is a kind of writing.

I explore the loss of my father. A third chapbook length of that is underway. I explore the theory of mind of what my father’s experience would have been, now that I have the neural space to see past my own inner fireworks show. That involves a lot of working physically and letting understanding come vulnerable to me, then find words to chart so others can see what I saw and offer that.

Pearl Pirie’s 4th poetry collection, Footlights, comes in the fall of 2020 from Radiant Press. Her haiku and tanka chapbook, Not Quite Dawn, comes from Éditions des petits nuages in spring 2020. This chapbook of haibun, Water loves its bridges: Letters to the dead has another epistle with Eldon, letters (above/ground, 2019). She can be found on twitter at pesbo, and at her author site where she offers resources and conducts poetry courses at

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