(An International Journal of Poetry)
ISSN 2249 –2178
Volume-3 DECEMBER -2013 Number-2
An E-Interview with Candice James
Interviewed by Dr. Pradeep Chaswal
(Candice James is the 3rd Poet Laureate of the City of New Westminster, BC. She is the author of poetry books "A Split In The Water" (Fiddlehead Publishing 1979) "Inner Heart - A Journey" (Silver Bow Publishing 2010) and "Bridges And Clouds" (Silver Bow Publishing 2011) and "Midnight Embers" (Libros Libertad Publishing) scheduled for release in 2012. Candice has been a featured poet on radio shows and at many events in the Greater Vancouver area. She is the creator of the poetry groups Poetic Justice, Poetry In The Park and Slam Central. She is also a musician, bass player and singer/songwriter, having had many of the songs she wrote recorded by international artists. )
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : How you started wring poetry? Will you share the experience of writing your first poem?
Candice James: The first poem I wrote I was 13 years old and in Grade 8 at junior high school. I had a crush on a boy and wrote a poem. I read it to my girlfriend, and half way through she burst out laughing at a particular line in the poem. I was so concerned with rhyming that I had put the following line into the poem:
His curly locks
Me crazy knocks.
Looking back now, I see the humour in it and it is the only part of that first poem I remember.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : What does it mean to you to be a poet?
Candice James: I was born to be a poet. As years passed by I wrote more and more poetry and to this day, it is my greatest pleasure, my greatest relaxation, and my greatest gift. Although I am also a musician, visual artist and songwriter, I am, most of all, A POET!
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : What is your experience of “art and life”?
Candice James: Truly life would be lackluster, pedantic and extremely boring without art. Art takes on many forms, visual, literary, and musical. I particularly have come to enjoy working in the genre of Ekphrastic Poetry lately where a visual painting or statue inspires a written poem. Art and life interact and weave their way through our day to day life sometimes in living colour, sometimes invisibly.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : Your views on women poetry and feminism at the present time?
Candice James: I don’t really have any views on it. I feel poetry is poetry, and the universality of poetry knows no gender. I hold poetry apart from anything other than poetry. I compare poetry to poetry. I do not compare any other human aspect of the poetry, just simply the poetry itself. All poetry should stand alone as its own living entity. As children in a family differ, so do poems by a poet.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : What are your views on present day poetry from Canada?
Candice James: Presently poetry in Canada is alive and well and thriving in the global arena as evidenced by our many poetry prizes, events, and ever growing poetry communities. Our own Canadian Alice Munro was awarded the Nobel Laureate Prize for Literature 2013. Although Alice is primarily a novelist, she has also written poetry. I think most literary artists have written poetry at some time in their life published or unpublished. I think it is a necessity to network locally, nationally and internationally. This is what will further propel poetry to the forefront as a major force in literature. There is an old saying “Everything old is new again” and I believe we are the forerunners to the rebirth of poetry becoming mainstream as it used to be long ago.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : Any special experience or incident that you would like to share with the poetry lovers?
Candice James: I had written a bunch of poems and didn’t think they were good enough to be published. My friend thought they were so my friend sent them to 3 presses. One of the most prestigious presses in Canada at the time in 1979 “Fiddlehead Poetry Books” at the University of New Brunswick, Canada, now renamed “Goose Lane Editions” decided yes, they wanted to publish a book by me. The chief editor Fred Cogswell flew 3000 miles to where I lived (east coast to west coast of Canada) and he looked at all my poems and did a 116 poem book titled “A Split In The Water”. At the time I was young and foolish and didn’t realize what a wonderful opportunity Fred Cogswell had given me as he and I kept in touch via phone and letter and sometimes in person when he was in Vancouver. He had asked me many times to send him more poetry as he wanted to do another book, but I had changed horses in mid stream and gone into the music business, performing, singing, travelling with the band. Throughout the many years I spent in the music business, I always continued writing poetry, but just never got round to sending it to him. Anyhow, I am where I am today because of the mentorship of Fred Cogswell and his belief in my poetic talent and most of all, he gave me credentials.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : What is your advice for the young poets?
Candice James: My advice to young poets is never stop believing in yourself. You are what you believe you are. Believe you are a great poet and you will be a great poet. It is like riding a bicycle or anything else in life for that matter. The more you do it, the better you get. So never stop writing, and always, always, always carry a pen and notebook with you because you never know when or where inspiration may strike.
Dr. Pradeep Chaswal : Are you currently working on any new project or book of poetry?
Candice James: Yes, I am just finishing up an Ekphrastic Poetry book titled “Ekphrasticim – Painted Words” (Silver Bow Publishing). It is a 178 page book of paintings by artist Don Portelance with a poem written by myself to each painting. Each full page painting has a poem on the page beside it. There are 82 full colour paintings and 82 poems, plus artist and poet bios, and photos. I am also working on poetry manuscripts for two other publishing companies “Goose Lane Editions” and “Libros Libertad Publishing”.