Poetry Express: Christian McPherson + Walking on the Beaches of Temporal Candy
April 15, 2021
Christian McPherson joins us for another day's ride on the Poetry Express with his refreshingly humorous collection
Walking on the Beaches of Temporal Candy (At Bay Press)—capturing expressions on all of life's most fleeting and truthful moments.
In our Q&A with Christian, he shares more about this collection with its poems born out of the existential quandaries had during his daily walks to work, the feeling of increased intimacy with prose poetry that he feels comes with age, and the ultimate dream of being able to create art full time. Plus read the poem "The Beauty of the Woods" from the collection!
During the month of April, you can buy any of our featured Poetry Express books for 15% off + free shipping in Canada. Just use promo code NPMexpress at checkout. Or you can find it at your
local independent bookstore.
All Lit Up: Can you tell us a bit about your collection and how it came to be?
Christian McPherson: It’s essentially two books in one, Poems Written While Travelling Around the Sun and Poems Written on the Walk to Work. They were written over a seven-year period. Many of the poems in the second half, Poems Written on the Walk to Work, were literally composed while walking, to and from work, in my head. The second half focusses on the changing of the seasons and there is a whole section of Haiku for Autumn. The whole collection has overall themes that deal with our existential quandary, what do we do with our time while we are alive, and how do we deal with knowing it’s so limited—done so with humour and in the context of raising a family, going to work, walking the dogs, etc. I submitted it to At Bay Press and they said yes. I received confirmation of the manuscript as I was about to board the Harry Potter train at Universal Studios in Florida—it made the ride much more magical. Ha! My publisher Matt Joudrey and I came up with the idea of giving the book an illustrated walking cycle —when you flip the pages a little astronaut walks across the top of the pages. It’s pretty cool. Winnipeg artist Michael Joyal did the animation and the cover art. It’s my tenth book and first hardcover.
Photo of Christian McPherson
[Image Description: A black and white side photo of the author, cut off at the upper chest. He stares off to the right of the frame. He has short hair and is wearing thin rectangular framed glasses. He wears a light hooded coat with a collared shirt beneath. In the background is an open field of grass with trees in the distance.]
ALU: What has been your most unlikely source of writing inspiration?
CM: Work, my day job. I’m an IT Team Leader for the Federal Government and having a job has actual given me the inspiration to escape from it. Before the pandemic I would escape on my walks to and from work and do some of my best writing while walking. Who would have thunk it, right?
ALU: Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poems?
CM: Not really. I tend to be drawn to work which is highly personal and perhaps as a consequence, I’m drawn to prose poetry, the kind of poems that are stories or snippets of somebody’s life. I find as I get older, my work is becoming even more personal. It’s this intimacy I want to have with writers I read and it’s what I want to share with my readers. Anyone can put a bunch of words on a page and call it poetry and I will say okay; doesn’t make it good. If it’s a bunch of gibberish, I don’t want to read it.
ALU: What are you most in the mood to read these days? Any poets you’re especially enjoying?
CM: I must be honest with you, since the pandemic hit, I haven’t been reading a whole lot. I’ve been drawing and binging shows on Netflix and Amazon. But I have been reading some poetry. My friend Michael Dennis passed away at the end of last year so I have been re-reading his more recent works, Bad Engine and Low Centre of Gravity. Ottawa/Wakefield’s Pearl Pirie has a new book of poems out, Footlights. And Ottawa poet Rob Thomas has a new digital chapbook out, Other Side of Nowhere. Rob has been sharing some of his new work with me—I’ve been enjoying his poetry immensely.
ALU: Describe your ideal escape.
CM: Well, I would like to be out of the pandemic, so that would be step one. Then it would be to go somewhere warm, with palm trees. I like Cuba and would love to go back there. The ultimate escape would be to retire from my day job. Under five years to go. To make art whenever I want and as much as I want. Wouldn’t that be lovely.
Never worry about me for I know the beauty of the woods
winter has come and laid the white ash of frozen water on every branch and twig
my lungs burn hot with the cold air as my nostrils steam like a dragon
my boots crunch out soft compressions in the silence which has dropped like an atomic bomb
you can never feel sad for anyone who has known this blazing frozen wood
it’s where the soul quickly goes quiet and even atheists
think of God.
* * *
Christian McPherson is the author of six books, Cube Squared, My Life in Pictures, The Sun Has Forgotten Where I Live, The Cube People (shortlisted for the 2011 ReLit Awards), Poems that swim from my brain like rats leaving a sinking ship, and Six Ways to Sunday (shortlisted for the 2008 ReLit Awards). He has a degree in philosophy from Carleton University and a computer programming diploma from Algonquin College. He is married to the beautiful Marty Carr. They have two kids, Molly and Henry. They all live together in Ottawa.
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