a VCR across the room
becomes a lighthouse
ships of rocks
sleep across my feet,
hold me down, ensuring
dangers out at sea.
WITH ROZ BOUND .....
We were wondering, who is Roz Bound ... you were born
in England, live in Ontario's Prince Edward County, received
your BA from the University of Alabama, an MFA from Goddard
College in Vermont, you've taught in South America and the
Caribbean, returned to your childhood summer place in Dorset,
England for a year ... and you visit annually the "the
green grass of home" to present a writing workshop
in Glastonbury ... does this make you an English poet, a
Canadian poet, or a poet of wherever you happen to be at
Everywhere! As a young woman I called myself a 'child of
the world' when I was living in tropical countries that
had no idea of the 60's revolutions or consciousness-raising
- I thought I'd created the title! I found out years later
that I was resonating with millions of others and was not
alone - I still feel that way, especially as I know so much
more now about being a cell on the one big body of Mother
Earth which its actually very comforting. I don't like labels
or boxes so I'm Roz and one of the roles I play is that
of poet, which weaves its web into many more spaces and
places beyond words on paper.
What started this itinerant life?
I left my UK birthplace when I was 16 and my family moved
to Canada but my life began another chapter 10 years later
when, as a 'corporate wife,' I moved to the Dominican Republic.
Company politics moved us around like chessmen, so I lived
in five countries in the tropics and South America before
I came back to Canada in '82 as a single mother of four.
After 15 years as an ex-pat, I was to begin a third chapter
in my life. Then a journey back to the UK in '96 after nearly
40 years absence, resurrected such strong feelings of 'home'
that every year the landscape pulls me back.
What was your first connection with poetry and when
did you first start writing?
I wrote stories and poems when very young - in clearing
out my parents' house I found books of little pieces I'd
written. My mother taught me to read and write at 3; I was
an only child and lived in books and my imagination. My
little poem about my kitten was printed in the local paper
when I was 6 - and I won poetry prizes in high school and
teachers college ......
.... and evolved into the poet we know today.
I didn't write much after that - life got so very full and
chaotic - but when I picked up my BA studies (which, with
lots of gaps, took me 33 years to complete!!) I would stay
up all night writing essays and reviews and loved just writing.
A memoir came out of the '96 journey to UK, and after that
I drifted gently back into poetry as, the sandwich generation
over, I had more time. Poetry kept calling me. But when
I took my MFA, my chosen genre was essay-writing in memoir
for some reason and I had to write poems 'on the side.'
I have never studied poetry on an academic basis, am mostly
self-taught with the help of some good mentors - my sense
of poetry comes from my gut. My first poem at that time
was printed in Sagewoman magazine which encouraged me.
of your poems touch, very much, on personal, difficult moments
in your life. You mentioned that 'it seems sadness and loss
is my trigger.' Sharing lifetime experiences through verse
is often seen as a form of therapy (some call it confessional
poetry), but is it more a way of saying to readers, listeners,
other poets, that it's okay to delve into those experiences,
to explore them, to understand them better?
The 'personal moments' mostly come from another place deep
in my soul - I could be writing a poem about a tree or a
storm, and then something else will emerge and the poem
will almost write itself. I believe that the personal is
universal so we see ourselves in other people's words. No
feeling belongs to me alone - it's shared. As Sri Aurobindo
writes: "the words are only the clothing of the something
that vibrates." And there's a universal recognition
of that vibration. I find it hard to write and keep out
the personal. Sometimes I get bored with 'me' but there
But, to quote you again, 'I guess I've been happy
for far too long', suggesting it might be rationed.
I may have said that in explaining my stuckness in writing
much poetry for a while!! In this, the fourth chapter in
my life, I'm in a fulfilling relationship and am quite at
peace. Poems I have written of late come from loss: moving
from a well-loved house, clearing out memories, friends
passing away, etc. I have been working on a Doctorate since
'06 which involves more papers and I find my writing style
has become quite poetic. But the state of the planet concerns
me and provides a stern edge to happiness (difficult word
to define) - the huge field for poetry is itching at me
right now. More than ever, art is needed to speak for the
soul which is getting lost in all the collapse.
For many years, Wellington has been your home and
is where you created the In-Formed Poets group. How did
that come about and evolve?
After completing my MFA I retired from teaching and scribbled
a lot. I moved to the UK for 15 months and while there,
took part in many workshops and classes with some amazing
groups - there's so much access to writing and poetry over
there! - where we sometimes worked with form. I loved the
challenge of working within a framework. So after I returned
to the County, I advertised for a few months for anyone
who was interested in writing in form and lo, our group
evolved. We met every 2 weeks, critiquing and choosing a
form for the next time. It worked well.
Many poets (I suspect, mainly older poets) troll through
early life-experience, not only as a way of understanding
where they came from but, perhaps, as a way of exploring,
in the safety of older years, what shaped them; as a way
of examining choices made, decisions taken. How did your
2003 book 'Spirit of Lyme' - returning for a year to Lyme
Regis in England, where you spent 16 summers of your growing
up years - develop?
One of my goals there was to write poetry. I wrote all the
time, it was like a long retreat. I had excellent critiquing
from some of the people I wrote with and I had little to
distract me. I wanted to leave behind a gift for Lyme Regis,
so I put some of the poems together - my book still sells
in the bookshop there, 10 years later! I take a few copies
every year, pick up a few pounds! Ready for a third printing!
But I don't troll. Memories I write about come at me through
other means - image, word, phrase, dreams. If I write to
understand something - as my father's childhood poems -
it becomes a narrative of imagination built around a few
facts. I'm 70 now, I am who I am because of it all and I'm
grateful. I've had enough therapy, I've moved on. I am often
completely surprised at what shows up on the page.
Those years, dormant for so long, had a huge impact
As with everyone, one way or another. I remembered my childhood
as lonely, sad, and over-protected and I didn't begin growing
up in many ways until much later in life,. But in re-visiting
the actual places of my childhood, I was able to remember
love and laughter. Had I not physically returned and walked
the walks, I would never have remembered the loving times.
In many ways, the poems in Spirit of Lyme are variations
on a theme of love ....
Everything is a variation of love. It's really the only
thing that matters. It's either love or fear. What's the
... and yet, it's also, it's a restless book ... that,
even though that's where you wanted to be for a year, you
drifted to other places; teasingly to Venezuela, wistfully
to Wellington "... my house waiting for me by the lake."
Child of the world!! Of course! Everything reminds me of
something, everything is a sign, a symbol, a metaphor. I
moved so much in my life (16 times!) that I've always been
not only creating a new home but also yearning for the old
one. It was particularly hard in the tropics where I had
a great life in one country and then in the space of three
weeks I had to leave it behind and start again, new language,
new maps etc, finding schools etc, missing what was left
but having to evolve. I'm in that space now in a way, having
sold my house by the lake and not finding another one, in
a rented furnished flat - the "in-between" place.
Wistful, yes. Hopeful, restless to move on, yes.
Since its publication, have you returned to it, perhaps
wishing, in hindsight, that you'd added more, or taken a
slightly different approach?
Only the war poems - while there, war broke out with Iraq
and I wrote a collection of poems as a way to understand
it by inviting it into my life - I chose two very simple
poems to put in the book, I wish I had chosen a different
one instead. That's all!
Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again has been reconfigured
to suggest, having broadened one's life and outlook, one
can't return 'home'.
I was told that before I went. I did and it worked out exceedingly
well - both times, the '96 journey and the 15 months. But
both were on my terms, with certain goals, and definitely
with not many expectations. I'll never forget it.
You've mentioned that you've been planning and talking
about another collection for 9 years (since returning from
Lyme Regis?) Can you tell us more about it?
Oh my goodness, this collection has been brewing for so
long I dare not mention it any more!! I wrote some of the
poems while I was there, some after, and they all circle
around my relationship with my father. Writing them was
my tribute to him in a way because by then I had found out
a lot about his life and knew more about why he did what
he did, and found compassion for him. But I do have to get
it out there to help me move on to something else. It's
in my way. The time though has bought me the decision to
add a long prose poem rewritten from an essay - it's an
added risk. I brought everything here to this temporary
home to get it together but life always seems more important.
This year he would be 100 on 12/12/12 so this is the year
to do it. I need a kick!!
What process do you go through in writing a poem,
from the initial idea or inspiration, to the final work?
When I was writing 'all the time,' when I had time, I would
wake almost every morning with a word or a phrase or an
image and write immediately, often still in the dark, not
daring to move - long-hand in pen or pencil. I'd work on
a piece by re-writing many times, before I'd transfer it
to the computer - that was always a sacred moment for some
reason, putting it into the computer - I'd anticipate it,
looking forward to that stage. It was quite special, almost
celebratory. I'd always edit, fine-tune, last thing at night,
before turning off the computer. Sometimes I'd wake up in
the middle of the night and change a comma, then wake up
again and change it back! And I'd write on the bus, on the
street, wherever the inspiration came. That was then. Now,
when a word or phrase comes, it's not so often. I grab it
before I lose it, and the same process happens but mostly
directly onto the computer. The day we moved from our house
by the lake, I saw the house from a whole new angle, for
the first time from a window across the road, and a line
flooded into my mind that I could not ignore - "as
a girl awaiting a new lover." It burned a hole in my
head for a few weeks until the poem just poured out. It
came from somewhere else. When I have to write a poem for
a submission or request, I still have to wait for that phrase
or image, then let it germinate during day-to-day happenings,
until it erupts, and then I'm off and running. I cannot
write to order.
Any thoughts on the varying directions of poetry ....
Performance, Slam, Prose, compared with the more traditional
I love performance etc because it has lent new energy to
poetry - anything that moves us on and brings in young people
and those who wouldn't have read or listened to poetry otherwise
is important. Drew Dellinger's performance poems on our
changing world are staggering. I love the image of drawing
a bow from the past into the future - we wouldn't be where
we are now without the traditionals, but we can't stay back
there, we have to evolve into something new, take off from
their shoulders and shout 'here we are!'
Who are your favourite poets?
All my books are in storage! So many I love but their names
don't come too readily to mind without my beloved library
shelves in front of me - Kapka Kassabova for sure, Sharon
Olds, Rose Flint (UK), Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda, Adrienne
Rich, Gloria Anzaldua, T.S. Eliot off the top of my head.
You've done a lot for poetry .. What has poetry done
Kind of you to say I've done a lot, thank you - what I absolutely
love is seeing the writers in the County coming out to Open
Floor and my workshops, some very courageously reading their
work for the first time, some launching their own books,
responding to calls for submission and wrestling with their
piece, all enjoying the company of each other in a writing
world for a short time. That brings me so much pleasure.
Poetry has allowed me to share my response to life in a
creative way and even if my poems go nowhere in our physical
world, they are 'out there' in the universe - it's a big
responsibility because no thought, word or action goes unheeded.
Anything you'd like to add?
Thank you for these questions - they've forced me to revisit
my process and how I got here - and reminded me of the beautiful
journey a poem takes and how I can't wait to write again!!