15 Minutes with Damian Rogers

Originally from the Detroit area, Damian Rogers now lives in Toronto where she works as the poetry editor of both House of Anansi Press and The Walrus, and as the creative director of Poetry in Voice, a national recitation contest for Canadian high-school students. Her first book of poems, Paper Radio, was nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award.

What spaces in Toronto do you go to escape your regular routine?
I love browsing in used bookstores (Monkey’s Paw is my longstanding favourite) and random branch libraries. I’m a member at the AGO and the ROM, and I go as often as possible. I visit Type Books whenever I’m on a wander. The lake always makes me feel better, but I don’t get to it enough. I have had some really wonderful moments biking home in good weather from various nights out and just coasting down a quiet leafy street thinking how lucky I am that I live here.

What aisle do you spend the most time in at the grocery store?
I’m more likely to be at a farmers’ market this time of year, unless I’m staring at the bulk jars of dried herbs in Kensington Market trying to remember what I need.

Which virtue do you try to cultivate within yourself?
I try to listen more than I talk, but it’s an ongoing project.

The receipts in your wallet would indicate what?
That I should spend less money on acupuncture.

What did you think you were going to be when you were 8 years old?
I wanted to be a witch. And probably also a writer. I remember drawing maps of my fantasy deserted island complete with castle and Field of Cats.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
I would love to spend part of the winter somewhere sunnier, but I feel surprisingly rooted where I am. How did that happen? The idea of starting over with a whole new group of people sounds exhausting. I miss the energy that felt available to anyone living in NYC, but I like physical space too much to imagine staying, especially with a kid. I have romantic feelings about California and the light there, but I hear they’re about to run out of water. Europe seems pretty great. The old-growth forests in BC sound awesome. I love the Southwest — New Mexico, Arizona — but living in the desert, you end up driving to a stripmall, like anywhere outside a city. I would like to have some patch of land in the country. And I would enjoy living somewhere interesting for a year. I mean, I’d be up for living in Buffalo for a year, even, but my mother is there and it reminds me of Detroit. Also the poetics collection at the university library there is legendary. But yeah, here is good.

What makes you happy?
Spending time with my husband and son. Good light. Insanely fresh fruit. Spending time alone. Making things. Trips to the country. Trees. Beauty. Spending time with my friends. Dancing to live music. The state of No Immediate Crisis.

What makes you cringe?
Moments of the Small Angry Ego.

What quality do you loathe most in others?
The ones that remind me of what I loathe most in me.

What, in your opinion, is overrated?
Competition.

What is the one thing you wish you could change about yourself? Why?
I would like to be less self-conscious and more self-aware.

What frustrates you the most?
Most of us pay attention to the wrong things most of the time. Myself included.

What quality do you value most in a lover?
Sincerity. (Add to that a sharp sense of humour, loyalty, independence, drive, skill, curiosity, support, attentiveness, mystery, stamina, talent, patience, and hotness and you will understand why I’ve been with the same gentleman for so many years.)

What is your favourite thing to do on a Saturday?
Ignore the internet.

What is your comfort food?
Hippie salads full of sprouts and edible flowers; extremely well-prepared sushi; slow-cooked stews in winter; chocolate.

What word or phrase should we all use more?
I have a fear of losing words. We should all use more words, varied words that open up and out rather than shutting our thinking down through reductive overuse (“whatever”). Right now over my desk I have the word aureole written on an index card and pinned up onto my bulletin board. That’s a good word.

Damian’s book (“Dear Leader”) is available here.

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Damian Rogers Dead Leader

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