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Laurie Fuhr interview by Emily Kapty

By emailing with Laurie Fuhr I have gotten to know the bubbly, passionate woman that she is! Her poetry and songwriting is heartfelt and unique, with powerful messages that inspire me to grow as an individual. Understanding how accomplished Laurie is, I want to know how she got to where she is today. In this interview I will explore how she connects with music, and what inspires her to express her messages in a lyrical way.

Why do you gravitate more towards genres like poetry and spoken word rather than fiction? And has your preference for genre changed over your career?

I think it’s been a commitment thing! I absolutely love literary fiction, especially by Canadian women. When I took a class at AWCS, I wrote scenes for a novel, but when I thought about working on it later, I felt a nagging guilt because I hadn’t even put out a book of poetry yet, and poetry is my first love. Like I was betraying poetry by following other interests. I caught myself doing other things as procrastination about what I wanted to do most — perhaps out of fear of failure? Fear that I’d hit some sort of obstacle and be unable to go further. Now that my first book of poetry, night flying, is available, I feel like I can give myself permission to work on fiction. But I have the distinct feeling that once I get going with it, I might not be able to stop!

Were you always intrigued by a musical approach to poetry?

I think so! I’m a huge fan of well-written songs, obsessed especially with Canadian female songwriters. And Ottawa, where I spent eight years and began writing, has a strong tradition of lyric narrative poetry that has really influenced me. The lyric part of it is that the words not only create meaning, but sound good when the poems are read aloud, even though they aren’t usually memorized and presented in a spoken word style. Ottawa-based poets I admire make poems that strike the eye and spark the tongue, whether they are more narrative or experimental. The result of a 25-year span of support for emerging poets is that you have really incredible, established publishing poets who also think it’s valuable to support emerging writers. I live those values here by instructing and running the Single Onion Open Mic.

Where do you get inspiration for your poetry/songwriting?

Real life, definitely! And love, mostly, in night flying, both love of family and friends, and of unsuitable boyfriends. I’ve been studying songwriters and poets who use allegory well, and communicate the specific emotions and turmoil of situations without using the sordid details of actual experience.
In the past, I was driven to write the most, both in poetry and song, when I needed to communicate with someone, but for some reason I couldn’t. Unrequited love, especially when you think it could possibly be requited, is so unsettling, and when artists are excited, they produce. I’ve long since discovered that I’m free and able to write about anything, whether it’s something I’m experiencing, or just something random and unusual I’ve noticed that sparks an idea for a poem. I’m sure I’ll always be most inspired by real life, however. Recognizing that your own experience is unique, and no one else can document it but you, can be motivating.

From Laurie’s responses, I have gained insight into what makes a writer, and that anyone can take their own experiences and turn it into art.


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