An Interview with Pamela Mosher

Pamela Mosher is a queer writer born and raised in a small village in Nova Scotia, who now lives in Ottawa with her wife and young children. Her writing has been published in journals such as The New Quarterly and Grain Magazine, and was recently included in Best Canadian Poetry 2021. Her instagram account is @psmosher and she sometimes checks Twitter @pamelasmosher.

You can read her poem Carried Inside in the October issue of Pinhole Poetry.

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? 

Sure. This is a piece I’ve been working on for the last couple of years, on-and-off. It started as a way to process my own experience — of an unexpected/unwanted caesarean — and I found it therapeutic. But in the process of writing it, I realized that I didn’t want the poem to just be about something that happened to me, or how I felt about that event, but instead to be just as much about my daughter and her arrival and my concern for her well-being. So I hope it reads as a more universal piece, about the way our focus can change from the self to the other, especially as we become parents. 

How do you revise your work?

I like to print my poems. There’s something so effective about looking at a poem on a page, rather than on a screen. And I sometimes read it aloud. If I find myself stumbling over a line break, or a particular word, I’ll know I need to change something, and I’ll make notes about it directly on the page. Then I go back to my laptop to do the editing there.

What are you working on now?

I’m always working on a handful of poems. And I have about a 1/2 dozen pieces of short fiction that I’m revising, that I hope will be part of a collection someday.

How or where or with what does a poem begin?

I normally start with a single image, or a phrase, and then I slowly build the rest of a poem around it. Only very rarely do I have a full sense of what I’m going to write, when I start a new piece.

How do you make space for poetry in your daily routine?

This is a tough one. Some days are so busy, with my kids and my Monday-Friday job, that it’s hard to find the time! So I do most of my writing at night, between 8 pm and 11 pm, or else on my lunch breaks at work, or whenever I have a couple of free minutes. Weekends offer a little more flexibility. But even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.

Why is the poetic form the best fit for your writing?

The short form really works for me. If I feel I only have 20 minutes a day to devote to my writing, I can still turn out a decent poem, after a couple of writing sessions. I love that a finished poem can be multiple pages, or it can be only a half dozen lines. 

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