Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Poet in Preview: Julie Cameron Gray

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Poet in Preview: Julie Cameron Gray

BT: Hi Julie! First of all, you very recently had a brand new baby boy! Congratulations! Also, thanks for still managing to find time to chat with us.
 
In 2013, your debut collection Tangle was released by Tightrope Books and received a great deal of praise. More recently in 2015, you received an honourable mention in the Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Poetry competition for your poem Skinbyrds.
 
In the last two years since publishing your debut, what have you been working on? I've heard that your second book is already in the works with Palimpsest Press. Is there an official release date yet? Can you tell us what readers can expect from your next collection? How will it differ from your first book?
 
JCG: Thanks! My second book will be coming out fall 2016 with Palimpsest Press, and I'm really excited about it. I had already began working on new poems before I had thought about what I'd like to achieve with a second book, but they have all emerged with similar themes and points of crossover. The working title of the new collection is Lady Crawford, and is in many ways a more personal collection than my first book, as those that know my married surname can no doubt infer. It began as an exploration of lineage via marriage, and became more of a re-imagining of the unsatisfying nature of adulthood and acquisition. Many of the poems explore the relationship to aspirations of a certain lifestyle and how the achievement of status often doesn't 'feel real', as material accomplishments do not bring a sense of fulfillment but a form of failure because you don't feel the way you thought you would. The human appetite for more, more of everything, is difficult to combat. There are poems from other viewpoints examining the inherent need to strive for something beyond our current grasp, no matter what we have- female skinheads, hipsters trying to go off the grid, Georgia O'Keeffe, suburbanites. I like inhabiting characters. It feels like a way of having multiple lives.
 
BT: Thanks Julie. Here’s a sneak preview from her upcoming second collection, originally published in The Fiddlehead after receiving honourable mention in the Ralph Gustafson Poetry competition in 2015.
 
 
 
Skinbyrds
 
Tattooed by friends, the spittle of Hastings
in spring: my life, not much so far but a hard
look setting my face to read working class pride.
My hands stuffed in pockets or flicking some
 
endless cigarette. I’m with the other girls,
feathercut and sloping our spines against the brick,
all trucked up in heavy eyeliner and bright lips.
We’re young enough to still be lovely things
 
no matter how hard the old siren screams
it’s paddywagon song. So why are we standing
around, waiting for the boys to be interesting?
Look at them, shoving each other against cement
 
for fun and games, ladding down a back alley
wild as red fur, foxing about, hellbent
on a trick of the light and a five fingered discount.
And that one—scrap of silk in his pocket,
 
half rude boy, halfway handsome, all jumped up,
not trying too hard. He’s going to come over now
and start blagging on about things we all know—
like coppers can’t be trusted, and parents are a joke.
 
We know why we’re here. We’re waiting for our moment
to come, the chance to throw our arms
around the sun, the mace of our days,
and hunt down the good time that we’re owed.

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.