Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Why poet Kevin Connolly tells aspiring writers to keep the faith

The author of Xiphoid Process answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Kevin Connolly is the author of the poetry collection Xiphoid Process. (House of Anansi Press)

In the poetry collection Xiphoid Process, Kevin Connolly draws from the voices of both contemporary and historical figures — from Lindsay Lohan to Walt Whitman — to interrogate what drives identity. It's the fifth book in the poet's repertoire, which also includes the 2006 Trillium Book Award winner drift.

Below, Kevin Connolly answers eight questions submitted by eight of his fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A. 

1. Kim Thùy asks, "If you had to choose, would you prefer one extremely successful book or many much smaller successes?"

I don't ever think about what I'm doing as a writer in these terms. In fact it's a terrible mistake to do so, in my humble opinion.

2. Rudy Wiebe asks, "Why do you write?"

Because it affirms the bare fact I exist in the world (for now), and that there might be some particular detail of my experience of that experience that might resonate with another's. I'm making this sound fraught, I know, but I don't think it needs to be worrying, so much as it needs to be true.

3. Tracey Lindberg asks, "What book is on your nightstand right now? How long has it been there?"

I never read in bed. Dorothea Lasky's Rome and Anais Duplan's Take This Stallion are currently open near my desk somewhere.

4. Marie-Claire Blais asks, "How could you, as a writer, encourage a young writer to keep his or her faith in the writing art?"

I am an atheist, still faith is something I understand or am trying to. An urge toward self-expression seems more real to me, always. Maybe that's faith as well if you parse it. Value yourself, value your gift, but don't fool yourself about how important all or any of that is to anyone except yourself and perhaps seven very dear friends... Keep faith with what matters for you and get better at expressing it if you can.

5. C.C. Humphreys asks, "What is your favourite part of the process? First draft, final edit, something in between?"

I like everything about the actual writing process, always. I dislike (often intensely) the public stuff that follows from it.

6. Gregory Scofield asks, "If you could change one thing about anything you've written, what would it be? And why?"

I'd like it to be better.

7. Roberta Rich asks, "What other creative pursuits do you have?"

Macramé. You have no idea. Seriously, though, I'm a good cook, though that's a discipline, not an art.

8. Kerry Clare asks, "What are some of your favourite words? Which ones do you use too often?"

Gumshoe. Triptych. Lacunae. I can't quite believe I got that last one right without resorting to spellcheck.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.