What inspired your latest book?
My new poetry collection, my fifth, was inspired by my life and my reading, most importantly Anne Carson’s book, The Beautiful Husband and Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese. The life events included love, marriage, surgery and complications.
How did you come up with the title?
Music for Men Over Fifty was the earliest version of the title, then Music for Men over Fifty; Songs of Love & Surgery, and finally and more easily on a book cover, Love & Surgery. There are many references to music, from Bach to Oscar Peterson. Many of the love poems have reference to jazz and made their first appearance in an online jazz journal called Jerry Jazz Musician, out of Portland Oregon. Pain has become part of my life and my work. I’ve rehabbed from six surgeries this decade and can still walk, if with a prosthesis, and continuing pain; the complications I’ve mentioned.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
I think the section epigrams lead the way, “Exuberance is beauty” (William Blake), “A wound gives off its own light surgeons say– “ (Anne Carson, The Beauty of the Husband) and “Pain is always new to those who suffer, but looses its originality for those around them (Alphonse Daudet).
How much of the book is realistic?
The Beatles and Robert Kroetsch would say nothing is real. The words on the page can’t read themselves, readers bring their own experiences and reality to the text and take what they will. My caution to anyone reading my work is I write to make a poem or a story convincing of itself, not of me. I recently read a reviewer complaining about a book because they couldn’t tell what really happened and what the writer made up.
It shouldn’t matter. That’s why I try to keep labels off my books. The word “poems” does not appear on any of the five except my chapbook Jimmy Bang Poems (1979, Turnstone Press.) Poems are often confused with non-fiction, sometimes even with truth. “Bleah,” as Snoopy would say.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
“Based on,” yes. Love & Surgery may be the concluding words of a three book “Life Studies” cycle including boy (2012 Hagios) and Lucky Man (2005 Hagios).
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Facebook: Victor Enns, hiding behind a rhubarb leaf; and Get Poetry.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
Yes. Several. There’s the Complete Jimmy Bang, which includes the Jimmy Bang Blues Project and Jimmy Bang’s Dispatches from the pain room. A collection of short stories called What Men Do and then another trilogy Boundary Creek, Susann with 2 nns; and Preacher’s Kids.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Reading and working alone with my imagination.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
It is changing now.
What genre are you currently reading?
Prose & long line poetry.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
I can hear my biological clock ticking…there is only so much time before my brain clocks out. Research is winning out these days even if it’s to look at examples of how material is handled.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
Ted Dyck and before that Robert Kroetsch (deceased).
Where is your favorite writing space?
My writing studio in Gimli.