Paul Vermeersch

Paul Vermeersch's picture
Photo credit: 
Justice Darragh / Fossil and Bone Photography
b. 1973
Biography: 

Paul Vermeersch is a poet, professor, artist, and editor. He is the author of several poetry collections, including the Trillium award–nominated The Reinvention of the Human Hand (M&S, 2010) and Self-Defence for the Brave and Happy (ECW, 2018). Vermeersch holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph, for which he received the Governor General's Gold Medal. His poems are often concerned with civilization and its place in the natural world — from cavemen to robots, from cartoons to monsters, they ask, “What do the representations of human bodies tell us about ourselves?” He teaches at Sheridan College and runs Buckrider Books, an imprint of Wolsak & Wynn Publishers Ltd. He lives in Toronto.

Micro-interview: 
Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?: 

"Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll. I sat on the library floor reading it over and over until I memorized it.

When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?: 

I started writing poetry when I was 12, but I didn't think of myself as a poet until I was in university. It was there where I met other aspiring writers who challenged and encouraged me enough to take my own work seriously. I decided to make myself an expert, and I dedicated myself to studying the craft of poetry both inside and outside the classroom. 

What do you think a poet’s “job” is?: 

It's a lot of things. Writing poems is only a part of it, and I believe it's different for every poet, but for me being a student, teacher and editor is part of the job. I want to engage with my communities to make space and opportunities for other people's work, to create dialogue and remove barriers, to make things possible.

If you had to choose one poem to memorize from our anthology, which one would it be?: 

Oh, let it be “The Fish” by Marianne Moore. What otherworldly magic! How wonderful it would be to have such images in me.

Publications: 
Poem title(s): 
"The Modern Novel," "On Being Wrong," "Don't Wait for the Woodsman"
Title: 
Self-Defence for the Brave and Happy
Publisher: 
ECW Press
Date: 
2018
Publication type: 
Book
Poem title(s): 
"They Will Take My Island," "The Palace of Eternal Youth," "The Unseen World"
Title: 
Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something
Publisher: 
ECW Press
Date: 
2014
Publication type: 
Book
Poem title(s): 
"Ape," "Boys Who Envy Werewolves," "Lost Things"
Title: 
The Reinvention of the Human Hand
Publisher: 
McClelland and Stewart
Date: 
2010
Publication type: 
Book