An Interview with Linda Hutsell-Manning

LINDA HUTSELL-MANNING’s writing career spans over forty years with writing published in a variety of genres. Unaware she had writing talent, she attended Ryerson & Teacher’s College and taught for two years in a one-room school. Subsequently, while attending the University of Guelph as a 1970's mature student, two Can Lit profs encouraged her to write. Her first book was published in 1981. Publications include: poetry & short fiction in literary magazines including Quarry, Freefall, Litwit, Danforth Review, lichen, consilience, Raven’s Quoth Press, Cloud Lake Literary & 101 Portraits; eleven children’s books including five picture books, two time travel novels, three professionally produced plays and five Polka Dot Door scripts; a literary novel, That Summer in Franklin, a two act comedy A Certain Singing Teacher, Playwrights Canada and a memoir, Fearless and Determined: Two Years Teaching in a One-Room School, Blue Denim Press. A novella, Heads I Win, Tails You Lose is forthcoming in 2024 with AOS Publishers. Over the decades, she has given countless library and school readings and taught Creative Writing in several Community Colleges. During Covid, she learned Power Point and gave readings and workshops to adults and children. She is currently working on a poetry collection Falling into Light, and a memoir An Occasional Chameleon, about her unorthodox childhood that began in 1940's rural Charleswood, MB. 
You can read her poem Quadruple Bypass Aftermath in the April 2023 issue.

Would you like to tell us a little bit more about your poem? For instance, how or why you wrote it, or perhaps provide some extra context?
I wrote this poem after visiting a friend in ICU who was recovering from a quadruple bypass. Strong emotions remained after I left, and I began to compose this poem.

Why was the poetic form the best fit for this particular piece of work?
A strong emotional response to a situation usually means I will write a poem about it.

If you didn’t write poetry, how do you think you might access the same fulfillments that poetry offers in your life?
I have successfully written in several other genres. Poetry, however, holds a special place. I feel that a poetic response can, sometimes, be turned into prose while a prose piece rarely can.

How do you revise your work?
Poetry is the only form I usually begin with pen and paper. Once a rough idea is written, I enter it on my computer for further revisions.

What are you working on now?
I have an unpublished poetry collection Falling into Light that I hope to work on later this year. I’m currently writing the first draft of a childhood memoir, working title, Becoming a Chameleon.

How or where or with what does a poem begin?
When composing for myself, an emotional response usually triggers a thought, a line, sometimes the entire poem. When working on a homework poem for the Cobourg Poetry Workshop, a prompt is given requiring me to enter into the request and find a poetic response. It’s a challenge I enjoy!

Are there other art forms that inspire or inform your poetry?
Paintings, photography, sculpture, folk art – all these inspire me. As with most creative persons, I become easily overwhelmed by everything and have retreat to a still place, away from input, to recover.

How do you make space for poetry in your daily routine?
I read new poetry almost every day. I am on Facebook with so many poets and writers who often post their latest published poems. I also listen to new posted poetry whenever I can.

What are you reading or watching or listening to lately that intrigues or inspires you?
Stephen Marche’s On Writing and Failure confirms what I have known for years. When a rejection arrives, I have always worked on the poem/prose piece again and sent it out as soon as possible.

Have you ever received advice (or has there been something you’ve learned on your own) about writing or revising poems that has made you a better poet? What was it?
I tend to write narrative poems which often have too much unnecessary detail. I find it so helpful when poet friends point this out. I know it has improved my writing.

Do you belong to a writer’s group? If not, where do you find poetry community and feedback?
I have belonged to The Cobourg Poetry Workshop for several decades. We meet once a month and read our “Poemwork” plus any other poems. Before I joined this group, I would not have considered myself a poet. Input and support have been invaluable.

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