ISSUE 1 VOL 2 PROFILE: Catriona Wright

poetry //
What a Girl Wants, or, Pledging Allegiance; Escapism

HLR: When and where did you write the work published in this issue?

I often write first drafts on my phone, which was the case for both of these poems. I wrote “What a Girl Wants” on a Greyhound bus travelling from Ottawa to Toronto in the winter of 2014, and wrote “Escapism” while sitting poolside in the summer of 2014. I later transcribed the poems to my laptop and edited them from my home office in Toronto. 

HLR: Were the poems inspired by anything particular?

“What A Girl Wants” was inspired by a collection of miniature marzipan vegetables my mother gave me as a Christmas present. The level of detail was astounding. Each cabbage leaf and potato eye had been carved. They were so cute that I never actually ate them. “Escapism” was inspired by a pair of cargo shorts and my fear of bed bugs.

HLR: Do you consider your work to be cross-pollinated by other disciplines? 

Absolutely! At the moment, I am working on a collection of poems that celebrates and interrogates food and foodie culture (which makes your term ‘cross-pollinated’ particularly apt).

HLR: Where is your favourite place to write outside the home?

I write both poetry and prose. I can write first drafts of poems just about anywhere (see above), but for editing purposes and for prose writing I need to be at home because I talk loudly to myself – just ask my neighbours!

HLRHow does travel affect your writing?

When I visit a new country or city, I try to read books by native authors. For example, on a recent trip to Iceland, I discovered the hilarious novel LoveStar by Andri Snaer Magnason, and when I visited Portugal a few years ago, I gorged on Fernando Pessoa’s poetry. By immersing myself in different literary traditions and cultures, I expand my ideas about what good writing can do.

 HLR: How does the Internet and your presence on the Internet affect your thinking and writing?

On a practical level, I frequently use the Internet as a research tool (What was the name of that clairvoyant octopus again? How is blue cheese made? Why are bed bugs so terrifying?). In terms of my “presence” I’m more of a lurker when it comes to social media, and I don’t tend to post very often or to get involved in Twitter wars, but I appreciate when people post interesting articles or introduce me to new writers. Of course, the Internet often has a pretty negative effect on my productivity. On more than one occasion I’ve found myself procrastinating by watching kitten YouTube videos or looking up rhubarb crumble recipes. 

HLR: What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk, which I highly recommend. MacDonald published two collections of poetry before writing this memoir, and the prose is just stunning. I’m also reading Emily Berry’s Dear Boy, a collection of surprising, funny, provocative poems.   

Catriona Wright is a writer, editor, and teacher. Her short stories and poems have appeared in Lemonhound, The New Quarterly, Joyland, Prairie Fire, PRISM International, Riddle Fence, Grain, and others. In 2014, a selection of her poems won Matrix Magazine’s LitPop Award. She is an associate poetry editor for
The Puritan.