Greg Santos is the author of Blackbirds (Eyewear, 2018), Rabbit Punch! (DC Books, 2014), and The Emperor's Sofa (DC Books, 2010). His new book, Ghost Face, is forthcoming in Spring 2020. His work has also been featured in a range of Canadian and international periodicals. Greg is the Editor in Chief of the Quebec Writers' Federation's online literary magazine, carte blanche. He has also been an editor for the New York–based journal pax americana, the Paris-based journal Upstairs at Duroc, and Palimpsest, Yale University’s graduate arts and literary journal. Santos's poetry has been described by poet Stuart Ross as "intimate, dark, enigmatic, playful, and surreal." He is a Montreal-born Cambodian adoptee with Portuguese and Spanish heritage. His writing is known for touching on popular culture, identity, migration, adoption, parenthood, family, love, imagination, and the power of hope. He regularly works with at-risk communities and teaches at The Thomas More Institute. He lives in tio'tia:ke/Montréal with his family.
I actually didn't read much poetry when I was in high school, although I do recall reading Emily Dickinson and e.e. cummings and being both intrigued and mystified by their words. Emily Dickinson's poem "I'm Nobody! Who are you?" really resonated with me before I really started to dive into poetry. I also loved the sound and strangeness of e.e. cummings' poem "anyone lived in a pretty how town." I rewrote cumming's poem and turned it into a song that I wrote a tune for on my guitar.
Before I really started to try to study and understand poetry, my first poems were lyrics for songs that I wrote.
Around 2007, I was in graduate school in the US and I received a phone call. I was invited to be a juror for a poetry award. I hadn't published a book yet, maybe some book reviews, pieces in zines, school publications, and a handful of literary journals, but when I answered the phone, I was asked, "Is this Greg Santos? Greg Santos the poet?" I was being recognized by my peers as someone who wrote, wrote about, and read poetry passionately. I was completely flabbergasted at being called a poet in any official sort of way. After that, I figured I might as well just continue putting in the work to go along with the title.
For me, a poet's job is to voice that which cannot be shared through regular speech. It's being able to capture something elusive using language as an art form.
I would want to memorize "Introduction to Poetry" by Billy Collins. I regularly teach poetry workshops and I find the poem a good read to get folks to shake their preconceived notions on how we might have been taught to read poetry in school. Say, as if it's a puzzle meant to be solved, rather than something that you can enjoy on its own merits. I find Collins' poem funny and charming.