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Matt Robinson Too!

AE: Has the internet helped or hurt poetry?
MR: Yes. And by that I mean I'm sure, if you look narrowly enough, you can make a near-irrefutable argument for either position. Me? I'm lazy in some some ways, surprisingly optimistic in others, so I'm not keen to sprint into one absolutist corner or another and raise that fighter's hand. Access to information and art is good, as far as I'm concerned. Period. Does that mean access to bad art, amateurish stuff, and -- even -- hateful / hurtful stuff? Sure. But it also means access to the most amazing art out there, too. We just need to be thoughtfully critical consumers, or art, of poetry, of anything on offer. So then: I probably lean pretty heavily to the 'helped' side. While lazily sheepish consumption of anything is less than ideal, I'm still optimistic enough to believe we have that ability to sift through and critically, thoughtfully, and meaningfully read/experience and evaluate what works for us and what doesn't. In that way, as has been said a million times before in a million more interesting and insightful ways, the Internet is simply the new Gutenberg printing press. And, really, as far as I'm concerned, that whole experiment has worked out OK, despite what the anti-press hacks were grousing about a few hundred years back.

AE: What do the people in your life say about your vocation?
MR: Not much, really. The folks I'm closest with are very generous about my poems, but I think they would judge the whole poetry thing as more a curiosity than anything else. It's not my day job, and it doesn't come close to paying the bills, so it's just something I do sometimes, as far as they're concerned. My close friends and my family aren't writers of any sort (at least not as far as I'm aware), and the guys I play soccer and hockey with know I write poerty, but they don't bring it up at games. I'd guess a good deal of the people I know aren't even aware I'm a poet / writer. I'm OK with that.

AE: What are you currently working on?
MR: Some context first: for better or for worse, I’ve always been a compulsive revisor of my poems - compulsive, perhaps to a fault. Even after a piece appears (in a journal, a magazine, a collection or anthology), I never seem to be able to leave it alone; it's a scab to be picked. Suffice it to say I'm on the same page as whomever it was (Paul Valery, I think?) who said that a poem is never finished, only abandoned. Well: lately, I’ve been consciously re-visiting (and subsequently revising / updating) a older poems (previously published or unpublished). This process of updating is, in some ways, simply a concretization of tweaks and edits that have revealed themselves through years of re-reading or performing the pieces. It’s often been a matter of looking through reading copies of previous collections and adjusting things to reflect the edits, re-wordings, or more substantial overhauls that have piled up in and on those published pages. In some cases, the revisions are as minor as a punctuation change (full stop to semi colon, or vice-versa); others involve different physical presentations like a new breaking of lines or an overhauled stanzaic pattern / approach. There are also pieces that underwent even more substantial renovation. There have been excisions and additions.
At present, the plan is to gather these ‘renovated' pieces (along with a selection of newer pieces into a new collection: not exactly a selected poems, but more a ‘poems: new; selected & revised’ kind of thing.

AE: What do you like most about living and working in Halifax?
MR: I guess its compromise of it - its small town and big city in different ways -- everything that entails. It's also where I grew up, so it has a sense of history to it, in addition to the broader history. I mean personal history. There are associations with this place that likely add a depth of flavour for me. But I still feel like a newbie depending on where I go. There's this balance between comfort and danger, at least right now, for me. It reminds me of learning the Underground in London or the Subway in Toronto. There was that point when the initial bewilderment disappeared, and I felt comfortable with how things worked and the routes and everything, but -- at the same instant -- completely intrigued and a little bit overwhelmed with what there was to travel to and from, with possibility. Right now that's how I feel about the Halifax I've returned to. On that note, there's this, too: I have left and come back. So there's this sense of having chosen to be here, having made a very deliberate decision to be here now, which is nice. I know marketers always talk about the importance of the illusion of choice. I guess that's true for me in terms of Halifax.

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