Wayde Compton is a prize-winning writer of poetry, fiction, and essays. In 2002, Compton co-founded the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project, an organization dedicated to the public memory of Vancouver’s historical black community. Compton is the program director of Creative Writing at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies, where he administrates the Writer’s Studio and the Southbank Writer’s Program.
1. Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager that you remember well?
I read all sorts of writing when I was a teenager, including poetry. I have less of a memory of one particular poem from then as I do a memory of exploring all sorts of poems. It was then that I discovered literary journals, and became a regular reader of them. That was important because they are a gateway to current writing, rather than the older poetry one finds in school. In my opinion, young people should most urgently be exposed to poetry written now.
2. When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?
I evolved from thinking of myself as a writer of song lyrics to a writer of poems. When I understood that these were indeed different things, I started to realize that what I most wanted to do was write for the page.
3. What do you think a poet’s “job” is?
A poet's job is to think through the material of language.
4. What inspired you to write “Illegalese: Floodgate Dub”?
I wrote “Illegalese: Floodgate Dub” as a way of offering some humanizing truth to the dehumanizing rhetoric of anti-immigration. That was in 2004, and I think it remains as relevant as ever today.
5. If you had to choose one poem to memorize from our anthology, which one would it be?
You can never go wrong with the sound of a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem.