ISSUE 1 VOL 2 PROFILE: James Lindsay

poetry //
The Reclaimed Goldrush Hotel; Biologists

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

I wrote those two poems in late 2014 over the course of a few weeks, on and off, in my living room. 

HLR: Were the poems inspired by anything particular?

"Biologists" in particular was partially inspired a book called Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem. It discusses how certain species of animals are kept alive almost exclusively through human efforts. I was particularly stuck that a type of crane in the United States is raised by biologists who disguise themselves so the birds won’t become attached to humans. When it comes time for the birds to leave the nest and migrate, many often to refuse to fly, at which point the biologists don a "swamp monster" costume to scare them away. I thought it was a fascinating, "unnatural" effort to keep alive a species that would otherwise be dead by now, perhaps because of a kind of collective guilt humans feel when we see the damage we've done to the environment; so we keep alive a spices of bird using a method existing outside of nature. 

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

Absolutely. I co-own a small record label and collect a lot of different kinds of music. Music is very important to me. I think about it all time, so I naturally find it works its way into my writing. It's become some of my favorite metaphor fuel, but not so much in a literal way. I don't write about music specifically, like particular songs, as much as things like composers, genres or instruments end up becoming the wallpaper of my poems. Arbitrary facts that end up as little surprises and help to set the tone. 

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

I don't like to be watched while I write, so anywhere as discreet as possible. Lately, if I feel the need to get something down while in public I do it on my phone so it looks like I'm just texting. 

HLR: How does travel affect your writing?

For me, writing poetry is a very solitary thing, so I tend not to write as much when I travel, but I take a lot of notes. Every trip usually gestates a poem or two in fragments that I put together when I'm back to my usual writing routine. 

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

I strive for my poems to contain real information, so I do a fair amount of research when I write. I look up people, places and things that I use as image material or starting points. When not writing, I can also fall into these deep Wikipedia-holes that lead to all this unexpected, superficial information that I takes notes on. Some of it stays floating around my head as a mild obsession, then comes out in interesting ways when I'm actively writing. 

HLR: What are you currently reading?

As I write this I'm a few pages away from finishing Tony Hoagland's latest collection, Application for Release from the Dream. At this point I feel like everything he does solidifies this positive, deeply humanist philosophy that can still be very critical of humanity. He essentially believes that we are all inherently damaged, but are capable of bettering ourselves if we desire to. These poems are attempts as seducing us to do just that. Before that was Liz Howard's Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent. Her book is full of this intriguing tension between things like colonialism, history, wilderness, and pollution, often occupying the same space at the same time, which creates a disorienting effect while reading. There's also some fascinating language choices at play that forces the reader to slow down and take time. I love books that force you to give in to this whirlpool of language and ideas, pulling you deeper and deeper into its concept as you read. 

James Lindsay is the co-owner of the Toronto-based record label Pleasence Records. His poems have appeared in Taddle Creek and Prairie Fire. Wolsak and Wynn’s Buckrider Books will publish his first collection, Our Inland Sea, this year.