Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Poet in Preview: Phoebe Wang

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Poet in Preview: Phoebe Wang

BT: Phoebe, you’re a talented poet, reviewer, and educator living in Toronto, and you also run an insightful blog where you post articles related to writing, two of which were incredibly well done: One titled “What to Grab Onto: A Newcomer’s Guide to Toronto’s Literary Huddle” and “You aren’t the only Winner,” which readers can find here
You also published a chapbook titled “Occasional Emergencies” by Odourless Press in 2013, and you’re currently finalizing your debut full-length collection of poems, some of which have recently appeared in several literary magazines including This Magazine, CV2, Grain, The Malahat Review, and Arc Poetry.
Please, tell us about your manuscript. How close is it to being finished? Has it already found a home? What can readers look forward to in terms of content, theme, style? Are you involved in any other projects right now?
PW: The bulk of my manuscript was completed during my MA in Creative Writing at U of T in 2012, under the mentorship of Al Moritz. It’s currently titled Admission Requirements. It was initially concerned with the ways in which we move through and are permitted to pass through borders, gardens and other spaces. This year, when I finally admitted to myself that I was going to be a teacher, I started writing poems about guiding younger people through these fraught spaces and the impossibility of preparing them for a closed-off future. At the same time, I struck upon the tone and sound I had been striving for in my poems for over a decade, a kind of irony without bitterness. The manuscript is close to being finished, and is also close to finding a home. How close? I can’t say. This is my first time writing a book. It’s like I’m climbing a spiral staircase, every turn bringing me closer to the top and yet also further from safety.
BT: Thanks Phoebe. And thank you for sharing the preview poem below with us!
The Pre-Existing Structures
I’ve fled to the cool quiet at the heart
of the city, to courtyards unlocked
by maple keys. Here’s an escape
from the glassy glare of the world, at least
momentarily. Here shadows aren’t perturbed
by questions of source and agency,
and I can stay to study the roots
of the ensconced oaks, or how to sway
the ivy while high-handed blackbirds bicker
in their administrative flutter and climb
to higher offices. I look for some great
design, and find only regularity,
the sun shifting its weight from one side
to another. Others soon join me
in this sanctuary. We read into the hushed
tones of passing planes, parse clouds
and their pyramid schemes. Too late we learn
there’s no end to the work I began alone
making meaning where there’s none.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.