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Poetry Express: Aaron Tucker + Catalogue d’oiseaux
Recounting a year in the life of poet Aaron Tucker, Catalogue d’oiseaux (Book*hug Press) captures the time, space and love between a couple separated by geographical distance.In this Poetry Express Q&A, Aaron tells us more about how the collection grew out of daily emails to his partner in Germany, how the shared experience of art seen during their travels helped expand this body of work, and how steering head-on into life’s experiences has opened him to his craft.
Photo of Aaron Tucker (Credit: J. Polyck-O’Neill)
[Image Description: A photo of the author standing, cropped at the knees. He faces forwards with his arms at his sides and looks directly at the camera. He wears a brown blazer with the sleeves rolled above the elbows with a light green shirt underneath, blue-black jeans and a brown strapped watch on his left wrist. He is light-skinned with ear-length brown hair and a light-brown beard. He wears thin-framed glasses. He stands in front of a large grey door punctuated with rectangle holes.]ALU: What has been your most unlikely source of writing inspiration?AT: I think it had to have been the le palaise de Rumine in Lausanne where I saw all the taxidermized birds, cases upon cases of them, that eventually became a major section of the poem. At that point, I had a bunch of mix-matched feelings and chunks but seeing all of those birds snapped together with the Messiaen piano piece I had been listening to (which the book takes its title from). When writing, I try to make myself as open as possible to such occurrences and to steer into them as much as I can; I have a tendency to analyze and over-think most everything, and so with this book I tried to be more bodily and present and let the really amazing cities and art objects and buildings and landscapes I was privileged enough to see take the lead.ALU: Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poems?AT: I think a lot of my core ideas about what I like in a poem have stayed pretty steady. As I’ve grown older, being exposed to a wider variety of poetic objects helped me to understand how wide a range of presentations and affects a poem might take. But, in my heart, I’ve always been drawn to lyric works despite my other work in conceptual writing and computational writing machines; if anything, working on Irresponsible Mediums, a collection of Marcel Duchamp’s chess games algorithmically translated into poems, reminded me that I do really enjoy a well-crafted lyric admission and description. I still return to a number of the texts I found early in my writing of poetry, including Ondaatje’s Cinnamon Peeler, Phyliss Webb’s work, and Gerry Shikatani’s Aqueduct (which is a direct influence on this work).ALU: What are you most in the mood to read these days? Any poets you’re especially enjoying?
A poem from Catalogue D’Oiseaux
*Aaron Tucker was born and raised on traditional Syilx territory in Lavington B.C. and now lives in Toronto as a guest on the Dish With One Spoon Territory. His novel, Y (2018), was translated into French as Oppenheimer in 2020. He is also the author of two previous poetry collections, including Irresponsible Mediums: The Chess Games of Marcel Duchamp (Book*hug Press, 2017). He is currently a PhD student in the Cinema and Media Studies Department at York University where he is an Elia Scholar, a VISTA Doctoral Scholar, and 2020 recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Scholarship.
* * *During the month of April, you can buy Catalogue d’oiseaux and any one of our other featured Poetry Express books for 15% off + free shipping in Canada with promo code NPMexpress. Or find them at your local independent bookstore with our Shop Local option.Keep up with us all month on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #ALUPoetryExpress.