Thursday, February 5, 2009


Alex Boyd for DESK SPACE


ALEX BOYD I grew up in Toronto and published a book called Making Bones Walk with a writer and publisher I admire, Goran Simic. That meant a lot to me. It won the Gerald Lampert Award. That meant a lot to me too.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book?

AB Started writing in a Grade 13 creative writing class where the teacher took me aside and said to keep writing poems. Wrote more poems all through university, but didn’t rewrite a word or take it more seriously until after graduation. In fact, all through university I wrote them straight into a blank journal, thinking they came out finished. I recently found a framed poem I wrote even before that, dating from 1981 when I was a kid and Trudeau was the Prime Minister. The library had a pinecone next to a jar and asked kids to write a poem about the pinecone and stuff it in the jar, so I wrote the winning poem with absolutely no clue what poetry would eventually mean to me. It’s a bad poem, but hey -- I was eleven years old. My first book wasn’t published until 2007.

DS Where do you write?

AB I write notes to myself anywhere and everywhere (someone at my work knew a scrap of paper belonged to me when it said something like “I salute the flagpole of your spine”) but do all my writing at my desk, as I’ve become used to instantly deleting former edits, and instant revisions, which is either modern or lazy or both. I only have final drafts on my computer. I don’t know if others work this way too, but I hate having earlier edits lying around in case they’re ever mistaken for a final one -- I’m more of a perfectionist with the writing than anything else in life. It does mean that any record of the writing process is wiped away, but I can live with that.

DS Why do you work where you do?

AB I work at my desk, where I always have to resist the Internet. I guess I should think of the Internet and the urge to check email as the goblin standing between me and completing my next book. The desk is one that belonged to my maternal grandmother and I sit in a captain’s chair (or so the style of chair was described to me once) that belonged to my paternal grandfather, who fought in the First World War. I can’t work in coffee shops or with others around, I always tune in to conversations around me even though I don’t want to do it, and for similar reasons I hesitate to see films in theatres now, people seem to do so much talking. The desk is right inside the door to the bedroom of my one bedroom apartment, though I’m often spilling out into the living room to read or think or watch a video. It’s all about creating a peaceful space.

DS What are you working on now?

AB A second book of poems, a first novel, a first book of essays and reviews -- I do hope some of that eventually sees the light of day, I’m sure my desk would like to shed some of it.

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