How I Wrote It

Why being away from home inspired Lenea Grace's collection of Canada-themed poetry

The author discusses how she wrote her debut collection, A Generous Latitude.
A Generous Latitude is Lenea Grace's debut poetry collection. (Alexa Garrey/ECW Press)

Lenea Grace is a poet based in Gibsons, B.C. Her collection of poetry, A Generous Latitudeplayfully combines her love of all things Canadiana — including poutine, hockey and beer — with 1970s-era pop culture.

In her own words, Grace tells CBC Books how she wrote her debut poetry collection. 

Kitsch and Canadiana

"I didn't set out to make this a themed collection of Canadiana when I started writing. I was living in New York at the time and I found myself writing on Canada, something I never did when I was home. It was something about being away that allowed me to play. I started noticing a lot of my poems had to do with transportation — my own travels and experiences around the country — so that started taking shape." 

Moments in the mundane

"I have a longstanding fascination with the 1970s and I was also playing along with pop culture and other tropes when it came to television and music at the time. There's a dichotomy within the book — going between an expression of Canadiana on one side and also a look at pop culture that can skew dark or light, depending on the poem. I like trivia and weird facts and I like to research things that pique my interests."

Reality-based

"My poems are sort of based in some kind of reality, some more than others. Most take a truth and then start playing on it. I will think of something, whether it's an image that stuck with me, or a phrase or a song. When I sit down to write about it, I've already been mulling it over for it for an extended period of time.

"I usually write at home, either on a couch or sometimes in my bed. But I don't quite know what I'm going to write until I sit down, usually late at night. It's a pretty laborious process for me. It doesn't always feel amazing while I do it, but it feels great when I finish."

Write out loud

"The cadence of the piece is really important to me. I have to see it on the page so I always type it on a computer because I have to visualize it that way. Hearing it out loud is not quite as important as me reading it a million times to myself in my head. I edit as I go. That usually happens extremely late at night, sometimes well after midnight. I'll wake up and I'll see how it sounds in the morning." 

Lenea Grace's comments have been edited and condensed.

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