Arleen Paré

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Lake of Two Mountains

He Leaves His Face in the Funeral Car

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August, 2014

I was invited to join this blog tour by Terence Young, poet, prose writer and teacher, and by Yvonne Blomer, poet, memoirist and teacher. The idea is that a chain of writers will answer the same questions and then each writer will invite two other writers to do the same. So, I in turn have invited writer, professor and poet Tanis McDonald to join the tour. Terence Young writes fiction, poetry, and non-fiction and has a wonderful essay, “Home Again” in the most recent Malahat Review. His latest book is The End of the Ice Age (2010). Yvonne Blomer has just released As If a Raven this spring. Both are poets and teachers with numerous publications and accolades. Check them out! And check out Tanis McDonald too. Tanis is a poet, a scholar and a professor at Wilfred Laurier University. Her latest book is The Daughter’s Way: Canadian Women’s Paternal Elegies (2012). Her latest book of poetry is Rue the Day (2008).


What am I working on?

Right now I’m working on three, actually four, projects. The main one is a collection of poems that has been accepted for publication. I’ll be working with an editor on that one for a few months. The other main project, which now has a Canada Council grant attached to it, is a themed collection of poems, though I might mix it up a little so that it takes on a mild flavour of mixed genre in the end. It’s hard to know; it’s still shaping up. The other two projects are in even earlier stages, but one will likely become a chapbook, the other a memoir-esque kind of book. I like to work on several projects at once. Then everything that crosses my path has a potential home.

How does my work differ from other work in its genre?

My first two books, whether known as novels (as they are) or as poetry (as they also are), differ because they are both, in fact, mixed genre books. They differ from other mixed genre because as far as I can tell, all mixed genre differs from all other mixed genre, and all mixed genre differs from all other genres period.

Why do I write what I do?

I write what I write because I am taken with the topic, smitten really, and because then the style, genre, voice, whatever you want to call the form that a piece of writing takes, that follows the subject or topic must be able to convey the intensity of that topic in the best way possible. That’s not always within known conventions – at least not for me.

How does my writing process work?

Slowly. My first two books took four years and ten years respectively. The third book was fast, really – two years. Maybe I’m working faster. But this latest project came together after fifteen years of writing. The newest has been simmering for a couple of years. It begins with something I feel consumed by, whether positive or negative. The last “thing” which consumed me (and which became Lake of Two Mountains) was a lake which became the poetry collection called Lake of Two Mountains. This was a positive. The first “thing” to consume me (which I wrote about in my first book, Paper Trail) was my work in bureaucracy. This was not a positive thing. Once I start to worry something, I start writing, researching, taking notes, writing some more - and the rest becomes history. I write only when I can, which is sporadic. I don’t like to have to schedule time to write – working in bureaucracy put me off that kind of forced routine. I love writing, so it’s not that I avoid it, not at all, only that it’s hard to fit in to the day sometimes. I make time whenever I can. I’m planning a writing retreat next month. When I have a deadline, I pay serious attention. I can focus really well. Meantime, my mind is filled with whatever project I’m writing. My notebooks too.