Saturday, January 17, 2009

I've been interviewed by Kat!

One of the wonderful things about the Blogosphere is the way networks and interconnections form spontaneously. To help us all get to know one another, bloggers have been interviewing one another. I've just had the good fortune to be interviewed by Kathleen Mortensen of Poetikat's Invisible Keepsakes in one of her Fireside Chats. Please check out her blog, if you haven't already; she is a talented, creative, funny poet and blogger!

My interview follows; then it's my turn to interview any other bloggers who would like to be interviewed by me. :-) Let me know if you'd like to be interviewed by me; the rules are at the bottom of this post. The questions will be unique for each interview.

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Kat: 1. What key principles do you try to instil in your children?

Me: 1. Be thoughtful, not impulsive. 2. Be considerate, conscientious, and true to your values. 3. Develop yourself; discover what inspires you, and go do it!

Kat: 2. What is your favourite plant?

Me: It is very hard for me to pick favourites, because so many plants have been a memorable presence in my life. Inside my home, two of my favourites are the lizard vine that has been with me for over a decade, always robustly filling whatever window I place it in, and the banana tree my son grew from seed. These are fun plants, the banana tree in a sunny kind of way, and the lizard vine in a creepy, Amazon rain-forest full of stinging ants, bird-eating spiders and poison frogs kind of way.

Outdoors, it is individual trees that my mind strays towards when I try to think of my favourites. There is the sapling birch that I planted 2 summers ago, which is growing enthusiastically beside my house. There is the giant maple at crab beach by Mt. Douglas Park in Saanich, with its huge arms creating a canopy of the most wonderful green light; I remember the pleasure of sitting on the swing and staring up into that tree. There is the Douglas-fir tree at the bottom of my childhood yard in Quesnel, and the amazing strawberry blite that volunteered beneath it, year after year.

Kat: 3.Who do you consider your greatest poetic influences?

Me: My greatest early influence was the grade school program which introduced me to different styles of poetry, year after year. I remember certain poems we read in school and how they moved me. One poem that we read in an anthology made me feel such sadness, I relive the feeling when I think of the poem, though I can’t remember the words or the author. The poem was called Elegy for Jog, and it was written in honour of a dog who had died.

I am also influenced by the poetry I read to my children. Dennis Lee’s The Cat and the Wizard is one of my favourites, and my daughter has a wonderful book of poems by various authors called A Pocketful of Stars.

As a young adult, I bought a used copy of Al Purdy’s collected poems. His work has certainly had a profound effect on me. My friend Jeffrey Mackie has influenced me with his perseverance at writing poetry, and his sporadically emailed poems. Other poets whose work I have encountered and collected on the way never cease to amaze me; Joy Harjo stands out as one of my favourites.

These days, my greatest influence comes from the network of blogs and the incredible support, creativity, and poetic conversations that take place in Blogland. What a wonderful, bizarre thing has emerged here!

Kat: 4.Where were you born and raised?

Me: Ah, an easy one! I was born in Vancouver, and my family moved to Quesnel, BC when I was 3. I lived there until I was 16.

Quesnel is a fairly typical Northern BC mill town, with a boom-and-bust economy that depends heavily on forestry. These sorts of towns can be defined by the number of pulp mills they have, and how badly they smell of pulp mill farts. There once was a girl from Quesnel, the town with the horrible smell… Quesnel also has the distinction of having extraordinarily high cancer rates.

Kat: 5. If you had to be a MAN from history, who would it be?

Me: I’d want to be Vladimir Horowitz, if only to play the piano the way he did.

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Here are the instructions if you wish to be interviewed by me:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me".

2. I will respond by e-mailing you five questions (I get to pick the questions)

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

I will post a list of those who have agreed to an interview so everyone can follow along.

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Here are the bloggers who I have interviewed. Please check out their blogs to see the wonderful things they have created!

Jozien Keijzer @Keeper of Wild Places

Kyddryn @Shade and Sweetwater

Pauline @ Art and My Life


Poetikat said...

Hi Rachel - I noticed you posted this (it was on my dashboard) so I hopped on over.
I love your answers - will expand on this later - gotta run, right now as my husband is waiting on me to tear myself away from the laptop and get going!



devilsivy said...

Oh, what fun! It's like sitting down with you over a cup of tea. I was talking about growing banana trees indoors just today.

Poetikat said...

Thanks so much for taking part, Rachel.

These are great, positive values you've given your children to follow. I hope they hold true to them and they will turn out to be admirable adults, like their mother.

Oh, I wish I could have vines in the house - I'm sure my cats would devour them!

We have similar roots in our poetic journey - my school days and some of the library books I dragged home are definitely the source of my rhymes. One poem in particular comes to mind, "When Father Carves the Duck". It was hilarious!
These books look wonderful!

I really must read some Al Purdy.

Is Quesnel anywhere near Terrace? I have a friend out there.
Do they attribute the cancer to the mills?

Wow! Vladimir Horowitz. I certainly didn't see that coming! He was a brilliant pianist, to be sure. Do you have a favourite classical piece?


RachelW said...

Thanks for the fun questions, Kat!

For some reason, the cats don't harm the lizard vine. It must taste nasty or something. The only plants they try to destroy are spider plants, so I have those up high, on top of the bathroom cabinet. Then only the dangling babies get sacrificed!

Yeah, there is something to be said for our school educations, despite the shortcomings! Sadly enough, it was my first year university English teacher who very nearly squashed any inspiration I had to go any further in writing and reading English literature. I changed my major from English to Botany, in large part because of her. :(

Al Purdy, I'm sure you'll appreciate-- he wove together humour, storytelling, and serious reflective stuff so expertly!

Quesnel is just south of Prince George, so it must be south-east of Terrace. I don't think anyone has attributed the cancer to the mills, but it's sort of a no-brainer, with all those dioxins going into the rivers, and that chemical snow that comes down sometimes (does it still, or have the environmental regulations been tightened up? I remember it from my childhood.)

I don't have a favourite classical piece, but I do love Beethoven and Schubert's piano compositions. I grew up on a heavy diet of classical music, and sometimes I wonder if I'm depriving my kids by not giving them the same (hanging around with me, they hear a lot of heavy metal, grunge, and flamenco guitar!)

Now do I get to ask you some questions? ;) The one-way interview leaves me so curious!

Poetikat said...

Fire away! I'll be happy to do so.


RachelW said...

Thanks, Kat!

Here are some things I'd love to ask. This is "unofficial" of course, since someone else has already interviewed you!

Because you like to rhyme and many of your poems are humorous in a gentle sort of way, I think some of your work would appeal to children as well as adults. Have you written anything intentionally for children? If yes, what types of work? Was it for a specific child, or for children as a general audience?

Have any of your poems been illustrated? In what medium(s)?

Does your writing in any way play a part in how you make a living? In what way(s)?

For you, what would constitute a most joyful day?

Have you written any poems about your frogs? If so, what were they like-- humorous, melancholy? If not, what do you think they would be like if you did write them?

jozien said...

I know it, i'm not a poet, but i still like to be interviewed by you.
my email is

RachelW said...

Jozien, I'd love to interview you! You certainly don't have to be a poet for this. I'll do a bit of reading on your blogs first to help me shape my questions.

Quiet Paths said...

Hi, I was one interviewed by Kat too so I came over here to see what you've written. I really enjoyed your post here. Incidentally when I was in college, I ended up having dinner with Joy Harjo at a friend's house. Joy was teaching a guest quarter at the U of M in the fine arts department. I like some of her poems very much as well.

Julie said...

I love the interview. I especially like what you say about plants and how one particular tree stands out as your favorite. This is fun! It's like getting to know you, and it's quite enjoyable. Thanks for posting.

chad said...

First read the email from
sent 7:42 AM eastern time: Sunday February 8, 2009
interview me.

RachelW said...

I'd love to interview you Chad; will you please post a link to your blog? I can't access your profile.

Faith said...

I just read this (I am one of the curious:)) Lovely answers to lovely questions -- I especially like the plant part... My daughter and I have special trees and plants in our small yard -- and in the woods...They are like close friends.
Joy Harjo is a favorite of mine as well:)

It is so nice to get to know you better!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel, for some reason, I just found this!
Is it too late to ask you to interview me? It seems like fun!

Mary Black Bonnet said...

Interview me please!
I found you via net surf and am so happy I did.
you are now a part of my link list!

Mary Black Bonnet said...

Interview me!

I found your blog by surf net chance.

You are now a part of my links!

RachelW said...

Hi Mary, thanks for finding your way here! I'll check out your blog, too. The interview thing all happened such a long time ago!