Press kit for An Autoerotic History of Swings (1.3MB PDF)
The following interview was published in the Spring 2009 issue of the New Quarterly.
QUESTIONS I ASK PATRICIA YOUNG OVER A LONG DISTANCE LUNCH
As a poetry editor for The New Quarterly, I found myself in the enviable position of conversing long distance with Patricia Young, a poet and short story writer whose work suggests to me that she is a writer who is in this world, not of it. What excites me about the poetry, and indeed the prose of Patricia Young, is its accessibility, its subtle nuances, its playfulness, its vitality, its sensuality, its invitation to the reader not to be understood too quickly. As a reader, I walk around in the words, find the layers, acknowledge their complexity and return again. I am attracted to the narrative voices in both the poems and the short stories, voices that Patricia Young has somehow managed to craft without condescension, allowing each voice an integrity unique to the perspective of the speaker, even or especially, as in the case of many of the short stories, when the speaker is a troubled adolescent. I delight in the taste of each well chosen word. Moving from reader to interviewer is not always an easy task, for the immediacy of conversation, even a dialogue conducted over the internet, dispels artifice. I find the candour of Patricia Young’s responses disarming. What began as an inquiry to uncover insights about the poet, her poetry, and her craft became a deeper understanding of my responses to her work. And, for that I am humbled and grateful. Our conversation begins with a serious bit of whimsy inspired by a witty three line poem and evolves into an enlightening discussion of Patricia Young’s poetics. What follows is an invitation to eavesdrop on an intimate conversation between a poet and an editor.
Barb: I have to ask. What did your mother say about sex?
Patricia: Next to nothing, as I recall. Though she once said after meeting my sixteen-year old boyfriend for the first time: He doesn’t look like the kind of boy to keep his hands in his pockets. I was shocked and insulted. Now I’m amused by her comment. I wasn’t much better with my own children – the few times I tried to initiate an “informative” discussion on sex, they looked at me horrified, as in – “Go away, I don’t want to hear this from you.” I completely understood their reaction so didn’t push. For some reason we do not like to think of our parents as sexual creatures, there’s this sense that they, of all people, should not be sexual creatures. Strange when our parents’ sexuality is directly responsible for our existence. You’d think, rather than being horrified, we’d be eternally grateful.