(An International Journal of Poetry)
ISSN 2249 –2178
Volume-3 DECEMBER -2013 Number-2
An E-Interview with Allison Grayhurst
Interviewed by Dr. Pradeep Chaswal
(Allison Grayhurst has had over 280 poems published in more than 165 international journals, magazines, and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers, a Porcepic Book, in Vancouver in 1995. Since then she has published ten other books of poetry and four collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published, Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook The River is Blind was recently published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press December 2012. She lives in Toronto with family. She also sculpts, working with clay.)
Pradeep Chaswal : At
which age did you write your first poem? Were there any incidents in your life
that made you want to write?
Grayhurst : I wrote
my first poem at the age of 13 for a poetry assignment in school. For several
years before that, I wrote many short stories for school and for my own
pleasure. For most of my high school years, I paid very little attention in
class and occupied myself with writing poetry – not completed poems, but poetic
lines, exploring words, ideas and rhythms.
I actually never wanted to be a writer. Both my parents were journalists, and my father also wrote fiction. Seeing my father’s own struggle, I never wanted to pursue that path. Least of all, did I ever want to be a poet. But I think most artists understand that being an artist is never a choice, only a necessity.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : How would you define the creative and poetic process in you?
Grayhurst : My
creative process has morphed many times over during my years of writing poetry.
Most recently, my journey has led me to consciously prevent myself from
creating any confines to my work – by keeping myself raw (both emotionally and
spiritually) while writing, without allowing any pre-conceived ideas determine
where the poem is going or what it has to say or why it exists.
I write when I am walking my dog. We stop together; look at trees, the sidewalk, the sky, squirrels, people, many birds. When walking I surround myself with what my imagination reveals, and my dog keeps me grounded. This is what feeds me for now. I just finished a 12 page long poem called Walkways. Where I am going as a poet next, I really don’t know.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : According to you what is the role and responsibility of a poet in the present day world?
Grayhurst : Honestly,
I can’t say. I read so very few poets that truly move me, but when they do, it
dissolves the senselessness of this world for me, and that is everything. I
think that’s what a true poet or artist is supposed to do, if only briefly, but
enough to recharge a person’s spirit.
In terms of responsibility, I think a poet’s only responsibility to stay true to herself or himself, even if that means writing something that has no set place in world, or if it means never writing another poem again.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : What are your views on the contemporary scenario of poetry in English?
Grayhurst : Not
good. Most poetry I see out there is very badly written, from a literary point
of view, though it often has heart. On the other side of the spectrum, there
are many very well-crafted and clever poems I see that receive the recognition
of greatness, but to me, more than not, they lack heart or vision. Such poems
used to intimate me when I was younger. Now I can barely get through them. But
I think that is the case with poetry as it is with all other art forms - it is
a rare joy when a work of art or poem is able to surprise with its
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : Would you please throw light on your latest book of poetry?
Grayhurst : My last
published poetry book is called Wallpaper Stars. It is more abstract than what
I have written before, but I believe it is also richer, denser with imagery and
revelations. It is a reflection of my own maturing as a poet.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : What is your advice for the young poets?
Grayhurst : Write
only if and when you have to. It has to be like eating or sleeping – something
that must be done even if you wish you could avoid it.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : Would you share with our readers any memorable events in your poetic career?
Grayhurst : In 1995,
I got my first poetry book published by a respectable publisher. The day I
received the acceptance was one I won’t forget. Also, getting a poem published
in 2012 in the well-known New York-based Parabola magazine was also a
I stopped publishing my work for fifteen years, never sure if I would try again, although through those years I kept writing nearly every day. It was difficult and insulating. At the end of that career sabbatical, in 2012 it was very rewarding to be able to put out nine of my books – all written during that 15-year time period – the way I envisioned them through those years, even with pictures of my sculptures on the front covers.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : What message do you wish to give our readers and poetry lovers?
Allison Grayhurst : Thank you for reading poetry. I am actually surprised by how many people do. It is wonderful to know that poetry still retains some place and significance in the world. So again, thank you.