Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Great Canadian Writer's Craft Interview: Ray Hsu

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Ray Hsu. Photo credit: Clare Yow.

This spring, Toronto high-school students from two Writer's Craft classes conducted interviews with some of Canada's finest poets. The interviews will be posted on The Great Canadian Writer's Craft page on Open Book in June and July 2011.

Liam Hetherington:

I have learned through research that you spent a couple years teaching at a correctional institution, where you founded the Prison Writing Workshop. Does this era of your life have a profound impact on the type of poetry you write or the themes you write about?

Ray Hsu:

Ray Hsu muses on the impact that teaching in a prison has had on his work.

[LISTEN TO RAY'S ANSWER]

LH:

Did spending time with youth offenders affect your personality or view on what writing meant or how it could be used? Would you perceive your experiences there as negative or positive influences on your writing?

RH:

Ray Hsu discusses the privilege of being able to attach your name to your creative work.

[LISTEN TO RAY'S ANSWER]

LH:

After writing Anthropy in 2004, which won the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award, what changed for you? Was this book able to open up more doors and opportunities for your poetry, or was it more or less the same? What affect, if any, does the critiquing of your book have on you?

RH:

Ray Hsu talks about publishing, snowballs and tremendous literary reputations.

[LISTEN TO RAY'S ANSWER]

LH:

any of your poems may be baffling and confusing to some readers, as many poems are. Are there any specific messages you wish to get across with your work or would you rather leave it open to the interpretation of your readers?

RH:

Ray Hsu selects the latter.

[LISTEN TO RAY'S ANSWER]

LH:

My research has shown that you are quite the compassionate activist. I was wondering what type of issues mattered most to you and if your passion about these topics reflect in your poetry.

RH:

Ray Hsu lays out an eloquent treatise on a necessary redistribution of wealth, university research and how it all relates to poetry.

[LISTEN TO RAY'S ANSWER]


Ray Hsu is a rockstar who happens to write books. Ray is author of Anthropy (winner of the Gerald Lampert Award) and Cold Sleep Permanent Afternoon. At last count he has published over a hundred and twenty-five poems in over forty journals internationally. He taught writing for over two years in a US prison. He now teaches at the University of British Columbia, where he collaborates across disciplines, districts and dinner tables. Catch him at thewayofray.com.


As a young child, Liam spent his days tumbling around on the fresh grass and his nights gazing at the starry sky, letting his mind wander as far as space would take it. He was able to use sports as well as instrumental practice in the violin and the guitar as forms of ventilation for his surplus amounts of energy. He is currently finishing his last year of high school at Malvern Collegiate Institute, where he studies writer’s craft, law, politics and other subjects of the same nature. Liam wishes to take his writing down a path that will enable him to capture and record not only his own world, but all aspects of his home planet.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

The Great Canadian Writer's Craft

Each year, students from Malvern Collegiate Institute's Writer’s Craft class interview Canadian poets as part of a class project. The students study Canadian poetry under the collaborative tutelage of teacher John Ouzas and poet a.rawlings. We are delighted to feature the interviews on Open Book.

Go to The Great Canadian Writer's Craft’s Author Page