Patrick Grace lives and writes in Vancouver, where he works as the managing editor of Plenitude Magazine. His poems have recently appeared in EVENT, CV2, and The Puritan, and are forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry, The Malahat Review, Arc Poetry Magazine, and Columba. His first chapbook, Dastardly, was published with Anstruther Press in late 2021.
You can read his poem Fission in the October 2022 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?
In this poem, I wanted to describe gay hookup culture at its simplest: a heartbreaking, never-ending rotation of men who come and go in your life. For some, it’s “just what we do”—but is this what we want? There’s nothing sadder than closing a door as a stranger leaves, knowing you’ll never see him again. I think the prevalence of dating/hookup apps, the ease of swiping to find something “better,” makes men conditioned to repeat this cycle. But what about love? Does love have anything to do with it? I purposely bookended my poem with mentions of love—dashes of hope—while questioning the idea of “first/last” and seeking solace in strangers. Because with a stranger, I can smile, I can fall in love in one night—but what next?
Do you have a collection of poetry or even a single poem that acts as a touchstone or a lodestar?
Anything by Anne Carson!
What are you working on now?
These days, I’m writing very short, connected poems about my childhood and the house I grew up in. Most of my adult life I’ve had dreams about this house, dreams often shared with my sister, and I’m hoping to capture those linked experiences on the page. The poems are steeped in absurd occurrences, fragments of conversations, fear of what—and sometimes who—waited outside the house at night. Unlocked doors. Gates broken. Whisperings in the walls. All of this I want to capture in my poetry.
How do you make space for poetry in your daily routine?
A full-time job is never conducive to writing, unfortunately! But my work is very different from the literary arena, so I often find time to write in the evenings or weekend mornings. I touched on this in another question, but I find I have to read new poems from different authors for inspiration before beginning my own writing process, even if it’s a handful of poems in a new literary journal that came in the mail.
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?
The best advice I was given was to read! To read all different kinds of poetry, from traditional to experimental, rhymed to blank to free verse. To get inspired by award-winning poets and writers fresh to the scene. To seek out poets in other countries, both in lit journals and online magazines. I always am inspired to write handfuls of poems after spending a half hour or so reading new work.
Why is the poetic form the best fit for your writing?
For me, ideas come in short bursts of emotion, especially in the first and final lines of a poem. I don’t usually have patience for longer forms, like prose—I don’t even read novels all that often, mostly because I find they drag on and there’s so much in-between that isn’t relevant. That’s why I love poetry. You have to be precise in every single word you use. Nothing can be extraneous! It might also be a result of our blink-and-move-on culture these days; everyone’s bombarded with notifications from a million different apps, the notion of “staying busy” is considered an asset, so poetry feels like the best form to capture a reader’s attention in a flash and leave them with a tiny memory, like a fingerprint.
Do you belong to a writer’s group? If not, where do you find poetry community and feedback?
I’m usually too shy to share my work with anyone! I’m a serious introvert, so my poetry community is pretty much made up of my books. I’m surrounded by them—on the dining room table, coffee table, most surfaces of my apartment are covered in books. If I need inspiration or I want to hearken back to a certain author, or collection, or poem, they call to me. It’s odd, but I’d call them my community, even if I’ve never met most of the authors whose books I love.