Poetry Questionnaire: Michael Pacey

Like the other arts, poetry has no “use” at all, strictly speaking, yet it is essential to existence on this planet.
Michael Pacey

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Atlantic Books Today is conducting a Proust-esque questionnaire, in which the poem is the thing, with four Atlantic Canadian poets, throughout the month of April.

Our third featured poet is Fredericton New Brunswick’s Michael Pacey. Pacey has two full-length poetry collections, Electric Affinities and The First Step, and a chapbook, Anonymous Mesdemoiselles.

ABT: The best thing about poetry is…

its ability to make us see the world in a fresh and different way – not just via our senses but with our minds as well.

The worst thing about poetry is…

because most people don’t read much poetry anymore, it has a tendency to become difficult or esoteric.

The best thing about being a New Brunswick poet is…

there’s such a strong tradition of writing good poetry in this province, stretching back to the Confederation Poets CGD Roberts and his cousin Bliss Carman, down to Alden Nowlan, Robert Gibbs and John Thompson in recent times. It helps to have literary forefathers like that!

What distinguishes me from other poets is…

my poetry tries to communicate in a direct and straightforward manner.

The qualities I most desire in poems are…

a musical or euphonious use of language, fresh images and a tendency to look at life in an original way.

Poetry’s best use is…

Like the other arts, poetry has no “use” at all, strictly speaking, yet it is essential to existence on this planet. “Reason not the need,” as Shakespeare said.

My favourite poets include…

many, many poets from various nations and time periods, so I’ll restrict myself to my favourite living Canadian poets: Robert Gibbs, Don Domanski, Don McKay, Brian Bartlett, Ross Leckie, Lynn Davies and Anne Compton  (you’ll notice they’re mostly Maritimers – especially New Brunswickers!)

If I stopped writing poetry I would…


4751 1. Electric Affinities cover m2.inddThe best line I have ever written is this one:

“The first step’s like reaching the ladder’s last rung, and, finding it doesn’t go far enough, you kick it away, walk out into thin air. Find purchase there.”

The best line anyone else has ever written is this one:

So many to choose from; how about something from the greatest poet who ever lived, Will Shakespeare: “All things become themselves in her, so that the holy priests do bless her, when she is riggish.” (Antony and Cleopatra)

Written By

Chris Benjamin is the managing editor of Atlantic Books Today. He is also the author of Boy With A Problem; Indian School Road; Eco-Innovators and Drive-by Saviours; as well as several short stories in anthologies and journals.

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