Raoul Fernandes

Raoul Fernandes's picture
Photo credit: 
Jordan Crick
1978
Biography: 

Raoul Fernandes lives and writes in Vancouver, with his wife and two sons. His first collection of poems, Transmitter and Receiver (Nightwood Editions, 2015) won the Dorothy Livesay Award and the Debut-litzer Award for Poetry in 2016. He has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English. He writes mostly free verse, and occasionally tries out poetic forms. He is interested in poetry as a way to see the strange in the ordinary, to deeply connect with others, and explore what it means to be a human being. He is influenced by Japanese haiku masters, the New York School, and the weird and wonderful poems his local poet friends are writing. You can read more about him at raoulfernandes.com.

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?: 

I did not read that much poetry in high school, even though I wrote a lot. As a teenager I was deeply affected by the lyrics in songs of bands I really liked: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, REM. I felt so much power in the words and wanted to write poems that had that kind of power.

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

I started writing as a teenager, mostly as a way to sort out my noisy feelings and thoughts. But I realized I was also making something beautiful, and knew very early that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I probably thought of myself as a poet, but I didn't feel comfortable introducing myself as one until a decade later.

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

I've always liked William Carlos Williams' idea of a poem being a "machine made of words". So a poet's job is to make these beautiful strange machines that can communicate what is impossible to communicate in any other form. To be deeply invested in language, meaning-making, and wonder.

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

We Lived Happily during the War by Ilya Kaminksy. I love Ilya's work. Deaf Republic is one of my favourite books of recent memory.

Publications: 
Title: 
Transmitter and Reciever
Publisher: 
Nightwood Editions
Editors: 
Silas White
Date: 
2015
Publication type: 
Book
Poem title(s): 
The Goodnight Skirt, Self Storage
Title: 
The Next Wave: An Anthology Of 21st Century Canadian Poetry
Publisher: 
Palimpsest Press
Editors: 
Jim Johnstone
Date: 
2018
Publication type: 
Anthology
Poem title(s): 
“Melting Glacier, Burning Forest,” “You Were Depressed. There Were More Birds.,” “Life with Tigers,” “Books for the New Child”,“Suspension”
Title: 
Prism International 53:1 Fall 2014
Publisher: 
The Creative Writing Program of the University of British Columbia
Editors: 
Rob Taylor
Date: 
2014
Publication type: 
Periodical/Magazine