Thursday, January 7, 2010


Jonathan Ball for DESK SPACE


JONATHAN BALL Jonathan Ball: writer, teacher, and wannabe polymath.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

JB I always wrote but got serious about it in 1999. Ten years passed, and I published my first book of poetry, Ex Machina (BookThug, 2009). Ex Machina is a long poem written according the conceit that the book is hijacking the neural machinery of the reader to produce poems, and it meditates on the interconnectedness of poetry, books, machines, and humans. My next book (also poetry) will be Clockfire (Coach House, 2010). Clockfire consists of prose poems which describe plays that would be impossible to produce: a play in which you destroy the sun, plays in which you murder the audience, a play which requires magical powers or absurd physics, and so forth.

DS Where do you write?

JB I write at the desk pictured here. I took the picture in the middle of a writing session (on my coffee break). Twice a week, I write in my office at the University of Winnipeg --- my University of Manitoba office has no computer (I am a sessional instructor at both universities). I may make notes elsewhere, but I try not to write unless I am at the desk.

DS Why do you work where you do?

JB My handwriting is too messy to read so I never work longhand, and I don't have a laptop. Also, I need to confine my writing to a particular small area that I can walk away from --- if I can't physically walk away from the work, then I go crazy feeling compelled/obligated to work constantly. There are also tax reasons to have a specific area of the apartment isolated as a home office. I listen to music while I write, heavy metal for the most part, and my computer doubles as my stereo (you can see the subwoofer on the floor).

DS What are you working on now?

JB The third draft of The Crow Murders, a novel. Not wanting to say too much about a book still in progress, I will reproduce my standard line: "The Crow Murders draws on magic realism and postmodernism to tell a story steeped in gothicism, where the book itself is a monster that seeks the death of its characters." Always working on other things, but this novel is my top writing priority.

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