Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Writing, with Julie Roorda

Share |
On Writing, with Julie Roorda

Julie Roorda, author of Floating Bodies (Guernica Editions), talks to Open Book about poetry, prose and her revision process.

Open Book: Toronto:

Tell us about your latest book, Floating Bodies.

Julie Roorda:

Floating Bodies is a collection of poems that explore the intersection of the macabre and the ecstatic -- the paradox by which they both transcend and trap us in our bodily senses, the way they both demand surrender.


OBT:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

JR:

No. Writing, for me, is primarily a mode of investigation, of seeking understanding about the world, about other people, and about myself. I get in trouble if I start thinking, especially in the early stages, about who might read it and what they will think about it. If the writing process does not elicit discoveries and insights for me personally, then I get very bored and frustrated. Perhaps that sounds very self-indulgent, but the truth is, if I am not excited by the work, then it is unlikely to engage readers.

All this is not to say I am not interested in my readership. I am grateful and amazed on those (rare) occasions when I learn that a reader has discovered something in my work.


OBT:

In addition to writing poetry, you write fiction for adults and young adults. What did you first write, poetry or fiction?

JR:

I began writing stories as a child of eight or nine. I believe it was a few years later, when I was a young teenager, that I started writing poetry as well. Since then, I have always written both.


OBT:

Do you spend much time revising your work?

JR:

Yes. I spend more time revising than writing initial drafts, especially when it comes to prose. It’s a little more difficult to separate a writing stage from subsequent stages of revision when talking about poetry. The first “draft” of a poem is likely to consist of notes and phrases jotted down in various notebooks over a period of months. It won’t even begin to look like a poem until it’s gone through several stages of revision, some in my head, some on the page.


OBT:

What poets first got you interested in poetry?

JR:

When I was a young teenager, I loved the work of the Victorian poets, like Hopkins, Tennyson and Emily Bronte. My earliest poems were hilarious attempts to imitate their language, sentiments and subject matter. When I got a bit older, it was writers like Margaret Atwood, Czeslaw Milosz and Alice Notley who helped me to see poetry as a means of engaging with the world, instead of an escape route.


OBT:

What's your next project?

JR:

Another novel. I am always reluctant to discuss in detail any work-in-progress, while I am still trying to figure out for myself what it is about and where it will take me. So I prefer to keep the topic a mystery for now.... Maybe it will be a mystery novel....


Julie Roorda is the author of two volumes of poetry Eleventh Toe and Courage Underground as well as a collection of short stories called Naked in the Sanctuary all published by Guernica Editions. Her third collection of poems, Floating Bodies, was launched with Guernica on July 13, 2010. Her novel for young adults Wings of a Bee was published by Sumach Press in 2007.

For more information about Floating Bodies please visit the Guernica website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

Dundurn

Open Book App Ad