Q & A with Belinda
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, was there a defining moment?
A: Writing was always something that ‘called me’ from the moment I learned how to put letters together into words. A defining moment was writing a six-line poem in Grade 3, for which I received a gold-star sticker and an A+ mark – the praise I received and the pride I felt was exciting and inspiring, and I was hooked on writing little poems and haiku. At about that age, I received my first diary with a little key that I loved writing in and locking up – my own thoughts, my own private world just for me.
Q: How long did it take you to write Phases?
A: It was years in the making! The idea of a book of my own was abstract for many years, and although I wrote individual poems to take to my writing groups for feedback and critique, it wasn’t until I was accepted into the SWG mentorship program that the possibility of a book seemed more real. I was mentored by a professional poet who worked with me on dozens of poems, and as we neared the end of the four-month program, she had me lay out all my poems in themed categories, and said, “look at all your poems, that’s a book!”
Q: What does your family think about your writing?
A: My wife is hugely supportive of my writing, and is often the first person I’ll show my writing to for feedback. My Mom was a loyal and proud fan of my writing, even when the subject matter was sensitive or difficult – she would attend as many of my readings as possible, sitting in the front row, dressed up, smiling and beaming. She’d bring friends to my readings, and buy copies of my books to send to family and friends around the world. My daughter and son-in-law, & my favourite aunts also appreciate my passion for poetry. Some other family members are supportive too, but others just ‘don’t get poetry’. My dog is a huge fan of my writing, and she spends a lot of time dozing in my office as I work.
Q: With Phases, as readers travel through the pages, they can safely assume your poetry was inspired from your life experiences. What else inspires you to write?
A: Life experiences for certain, and sometimes others’ experience that have some degree of resonance and connection for me whether it’s parallel or completely different – if I feel it and connect to it, it may inspire something in my own writing. Other inspirations are gender dynamics, sexual politics, women’s’ lives, women’s spirituality, feminism, nature, and the larger world. I really don’t ever run out of ideas to write about, and when I’m lucky, a good poem will evolve.
Q: Does writing poetry come easy for you?
A: It does! Poetry is always in my head, Whether I get it all written down or not, observations of the outer or inner world, little snippets of ideas, musings, wonderings, appreciations, indignations, etc. are always swirling in my mind and might eventually become haiku or poems.
Q: What is your favourite style of poetry to write?
A: haiku and free-verse, although I’ve also recently experimented with villanelles, gigans, and my own ‘styles’ that remain unnamed
Q: Do you write in any other style?
A: In all three of my writing groups, we encourage and sometimes challenge each other to try various styles to force us out of our comfort zones. I generally love playing with different styles, but I’m continually stymied by sonnets.
Q: How often do you write?
A: Everyday in my head, and almost every day on screen or paper, whether its snippets or what I call ‘scribbles and starts’. I do enjoy deliberately sitting down to write. or edit poems or presentations
Q: What is your favourite poem in Phases and why is it your favourite?
A: That’s a hard one, because I really do have a fondness for all of them. “Why a Parade” is a favourite because it has resonated for so may people, and it is always requested when I do a reading. “Drag King” and “In Drag” are also fun to read because they get so much feedback.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from Phases?
A: I hope they feel encouraged and inspired to be brave enough to share their own truths. Interpersonal connections are a powerful driving force for me to share my writing – when it connects to someone else, when it resonates for them, when it has enough impact on them that they feel compelled to tell me about it – that makes sharing my writing so worthwhile!