Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Open Book Special Series: Toronto Street Writers - Rob Saffrey

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Rob Saffrey

The Toronto Street Writers program is an initiative headed by author Emily Pohl-Weary which brings together talented young writers from different walks of life. The group meets weekly, ten months out of the year. On July 1, the Toronto Street Writers launched their 2012 anthology, West of What We Know. You can buy copies for $10 (including postage) by emailing or visiting their website. As a celebration of the anthology, Open Book: Toronto is proud to host a special series of interviews with several of the contributing writers. Today, for the penultimate interview in this series, we speak with Rob Saffrey, one of the talented young writers featured in the anthology. You can also check out our interviews with Rob's fellow Toronto Street Writers Krystle McKenzie, Richard Chang and Jenna Anne Kennedy. ___________________________________________

Open Book:

What drew you to the Toronto Street Writers program?

Rob Saffrey:

Sometimes I wander around and take random turns. Look at different things and talk to people I don't know. There’s a game I play in life, called “you're not sposta be here.” You play by walking through doors, corridors, pathways, sometimes over fences and obstacles, until someone says: "Hey, you're not sposta be here." I guess I was playing that game and lost really bad, because I found Emily's writing class.


Was there anything about the program that surprised you once you were a part of it?


I was extremely surprised that writing is a lot easier now that I'm out of a conventional schooling system. The first page I wrote in the class turned out really well. I had a great feeling of "you're in MY world" going on. My words affect others as well as myself. Not in the sense of writing it in a notebook and putting it with the others for the next generation to read at your funeral. I guess I was surprised at the idea of publishing. That’s what you do with your writing after you write it? Ahhh, what? How did I miss that one? Here's a sandwich, eat it!


Tell us a bit about a piece of writing you've created during the program that you're proud of.


Every day I cut pictures from newspapers and magazines. Pictures that catch my eye. Anything remotely interesting. I call it “taking pictures.” I made a huge castle out of them all. That was fun. It’ll be hanging on the wall during the launch party on Sunday. I'm also writing a short story about a person trying to get his old crew of pals back together after they all get married and family-ridden. The more they resist, the more their life schedules get mysteriously cleared. I’ve been grinding through it. It's tough. But it's gonna be worth it, because all my married friends will get super nervous when they read it.


Who are one or two of your favourite authors or poets?


Orson Scot Card. Isaac Asimov. Garth Ennis. I don't find it very fair to ask for two! See there it is: "you're in MY world."


What are some of your goals or dreams when it comes to writing?


I want to publish more. Maybe a book of poems (just have to type and edit them). I want to get some short stories out there. I want to make a comic series at least an inch thick. The idea of a novel seems pretty impossible to me. So I might just go ahead and write the crap out of one. I juggle this with a pretty big music habit. I have two bands and write music all the time. There are a barrel of monkeys on my back. Each requires a bit of time every day.


Rob Saffrey is a member of the Toronto Street Writers group. His work will be included in the 2012 anthology West of What We Know.

For more information about West of What We Know please visit the Toronto Street Writers website.


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