September 11, 2011

Katherena Vermette – Winnipeg poet and THIN AIR staff member

In honour of our rapidly approaching festival, our blog is temporarily turning away from our writers and towards the people who make THIN AIR possible.

We would like to introduce Katherena Vermette, our Volunteer Coordinator and Marketing Assistant. When she’s not busy working at the office, this Winnipeg writer is busy with her own career as a poet. We asked her a few questions, and here is what she said…

When did you start writing? 
“I honestly don't remember. I started arbitrarily scribbling words into scribblers very young. I do remember writing a rhyming poem - that I could still recite to you today - when I was ten. I really liked the rhyming poetry during my tweens.

Then, I discovered T.S. Eliot and E.E. Cummings, and dove into an angst filled poetic youth with a pair of used army boots, a sticker covered journal, and a shroud of thick black hair to hide behind. Yes, I was THAT girl in high school.”

How did you decide what you wanted to write about? 
“I am completely self-absorbed so I have always written about ME, and all that I have seen and experienced. I was also subject to many shrinks throughout my childhood - THANKS MOM - so I got quite accustomed to talking, and in many cases writing, about my FEELINGS.

As I grew up, I started to look outside of my own skin more often (though some would argue not enough), and started writing about other people too. I love people. I am continuously fascinated with the CHARACTER of people. In my poetry, I think of myself as an observer, sometimes of myself, sometimes of others, and I write what I see. In my fiction, I take what I have seen and mix it up with stuff I create. The making up stuff is my favourite part.”

How do you usually write? 
“On an ideal day, I wake up inspired and get right to writing and coffee. On a typical day, I wake up late, get my kids off to school and get distracted by work stuff. The writing has to put up with a when-I-can sort of schedule.”

What advice could you provide to someone attempting to publish his or her first piece? 
“EDIT EDIT EDIT EDIT and then POLISH POLISH POLISH POLISH and then get someone else to read it, give you honest feedback, and do it all over again. It never "just happens" and anyone who told you it does is LYING to you. Writing for yourself is great, satisfying, cathartic, emotional. Writing for other people is a job.”

If you could meet one writer, who would it be and why? 
“Leonard Cohen… Because I'm a poet that's why.”

Katherena Vermette is a Metis writer of poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines and compilations, including the upcoming Manitoapow – Aboriginal Literary History of Manitoba (Highwater Press 2012). Vermette was the 2010-2011 Blogger in Residence for and recently begun graduate work in the prestigious Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing program at the University of British Columbia. A member of the Aboriginal Writers Collective of Manitoba since 2004, Vermette lives, works and plays in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

1 comment:

  1. Just a little note to Katherena Vermette: I've just read your book North End Love Songs and I loved it! I'm a struggling poet who's lived in Old St. Vital all my life, so your book was very interesting and enlightening to read. Reading your poetry has helped me with my own work, it that it has to be shorter and more concise. Thank you, Mark Brown.