09 September 2010

John Terpstra on Art Waves

Two interviews with Gaspereau Press author John Terpstra have recently been posted on-line. The interviews are from the program Arts Waves, hosted by fellow Hamilton poet Bernadette Rule.

I first met John when he was touring his poetry collection The Church Not Made With Hands, published by Wolsak and Wynn in 1997. Anyway, we became fast friends. It was John who introduced me to the wood engraver Wesley Bates and to the thriving arts community in Hamilton. When I was myself touring in Ontario in 1998, one of the best readings I gave was actually to an audience gathered in John and Mary Terpstra’s living room on Herkimer Street in Hamilton.

I’ve always agreed with the Canadian publisher Jack McClelland’s notion that a publisher publishes authors more than he publishes books, and I’ve been lucky enough to have formed great friendships with many of the writers and artists I’ve worked with. When you believe in someone’s vision and skill, you want to do everything you can to help them on their way. John is one of those writers who is the heart and soul of the Gaspereau Press list – like Pierre Berton or Farley Mowat were to McClelland’s M&S. I befriended John at a point when he was at a sort of crossroads as a writer, working with great uncertainty on what was to become his first major prose project, Falling into Place, a book that is a sort of meditation on the Iroquois Bar – a giant glacial sandbar and present day transportation corridor in Hamilton. I think John brought it to Gaspereau because he knew that we understood what he was trying to accomplish and trusted our commitment to his literary vision.

This relationship has resulted in some pretty astonishing books, including Restoration (2000), Falling Into Place (2002), Disarmament (2003), Brendan Luck (2003), The Boys, or, Waiting for the Electrician’s Daughter (2005), Two or Three Guitars: Selected Poems (2006), and Skin Boat (2009).

The first interview was broadcast on December 21, 2008. In it, John talks about making the move from poetry to prose with his first Gaspereau Press publication, Falling into Place, about the balance between writing, cabinetmaking and carpentry, and about his celebrated memoir about his brothers-in-law, entitled The Boys or Waiting for the Electrician’s Daughter.

The second interview was first broadcast in September 13, 2009. John’s talks about his most recent book Skin Boat, a book which tries to understand the appeal of faith and faith communities in the modern world.


No comments: