Friday, March 1, 2024






MARCH 2024

NILAVRONILL: Welcome to Our Poetry Archive, dear poet. And congratulations as the poet of this month. I would like to know your personal views on literature or poetry in general.


RICHARD DOIRON: First, thank you for giving me this opportunity to express my views. As to literature, I quit school at a young age, though I had had very good grades through the early years. One day, having quit school, I went into the Public Library and chanced on a book by the late American poet, Sara Teasdale. I was mesmerized by the beautiful writing, with poetry being concise, expressive to a fault. I wanted to write like that. Surprisingly, I found that writing was easy for me. I was very creative. It would merely be a matter of understanding things like meter. And then there were moments when the poems were spontaneous. I still fail to understand how some of that is possible; still, literature was to play a significant role in my life; while never an avid reader, imagery did take me to far and distant shores, if you will. I was on my way.


NILAVRONILL: What are the factors that have influenced you immensely in the growing phase of your literary life. When, most probably you were not certain of your future as a poet or writer. Do you think society as a whole is the key factor in shaping up you as a poet, or your poetry altogether?


RICHARD DOIRON: Frankly, there is mystery to writing, much as there would be to any other art form;  I have known musicians who were self-taught who were masterful etc. My situation was no different. For instance, I was not quite seventeen, when something prompted me to write a thousand-word letter to the Editor of our local paper, and not one word was removed or changed. A former teacher sent word that I could not possibly have written that letter. There would then be a need to categorize people. Gibran (my all-time favourite writer) noted two different types of poets: the technical and the inspired. While I was fortunate to develop technical skills that would not have ever accounted for thousands of spontaneous poems. Here is another observation, too: people will sometimes ask when I might have become a poet; the only answer to that is that I was born a poet, much as artists in other art forms were born to their respective callings. We all know people who can pluck a guitar and hit the odd note. I am basically tone-deaf, yet I once sat in the front row of a concert by two men considered the greatest classical guitarists at the time, Segovia and Montoya, and I knew magic when I witnessed it. Frankly, I was never unsure of myself as a writer. I simply wrote, much as I occasionally built a structure that became my home. I simply went ahead and did it, and that has never stopped. It is very possible that society helps to shape us in some ways;  after all, the world is the school, as it were, and the starting point to writing is somewhere; encouragement by a specific teacher at age ten or so stayed with me. Mind you, while society may shape us to some extent, that would not always explain a certain mystery to which I must allude now and then. I would, however, suggest that my connection to nature has played a big role in the way I look at the world.


NILAVRONILL: Is there anyone in your life, influenced you personally to develop your literary skills? Or inspire you to become a poet?


RICHARD DOIRON: Again, one does not become a poet; one simply is or is not; I might aspire to piano playing but being tone-deaf would never allow for that to happen. There have been great men of letters who have picked up on something relative to me and offered great encouragement, from a journalism instructor over fifty years ago, to at least three prominent Canadian poets who both encouraged me and gave me mediums of expression, one being a publisher of a yearly poetry magazine; that man would send me letters reminding me to not forget to submit, which was most pleasing to me. I will always be grateful for such men in my poetic journey. For my part, I have encouraged numerous aspiring writers as well. But encouragement does not necessarily make writers, either. One can pick up on technical aspects of anything but the creative components, that is either inherent in a person or is not. Some may suddenly write or paint or sing or dance, but if and when that should happen, it was always there, merely dormant for a spell.


NILAVRONILL: Do you consider your literary life as an extension of your self-existence? If so, how it is related with the time around you?


RICHARD DOIRON: It has long been my belief that, as some are born to music of to other art forms, I was born to write. It is a must, without exception. I am my writing and my writing is who and what I am, and locale has never mattered; I could have been in a quiet setting or a noisy establishment, when the poem wants to find its place on a page, it finds it; as such, then, I see myself as a channel. It is never about boasting. Michaelangelo was praised for sculpting David and said no that was the case: David was inside the stone, and he had merely chipped the stone away from David. How wonderful!


NILAVRONILL: According to you, what are the conditions to develop the creative soul of a poet in general?  We would like to know from your personal experiences.


RICHARD DOIRON: The poet will be a poet no matter what, but I should think freedom plays a big part in a poet's life,  though freedom, also, is something implying depth, such as freedom of mind and of spirit. Often, I have had people insist that one must read endlessly or practise the craft without halt, but I have read few books and have written extensively on all sorts of things, though I think of my writing as spiritual in nature; my themes have consistently been peace, harmony, love, justice, nature, philosophy. What came first the chicken or the egg? Does the poet develop a creative soul, or is the soul shaping the poet? I have been reluctant to call myself a poet at times, simply because I have the words of Socrates, so long ago, saying that poets often wrote over their own heads. Some days I struggle to formulate a sentence, but then inspiration hits and I surely write in a language I do not normally think in.


NILAVRONILL: Do you think in this age of information and technology the dimensions of literature have been largely extended beyond our preconceived ideas about literature in general?


RICHARD DOIRON: I would tell the writers to write, not to fall victims to fads or passing fancies. Yes, we do need to keep up with the times, but the interpretation of that has to be done on an individual basis.  In the end, the poet walks both a tightrope and a fine line. He or she is left to decide, pursuant to the depths of individual callings and attributes.


NILAVRONILL: As a poet, do socio-economy and politics in general influence your literary visions? If so how, and if not, why?


RICHARD DOIRON: Poets are said to be the most quoted of all people, yet they are often the poorest in the world of art. Not sure exactly why. If one were trapped in a mindset where economics were the driving force, then I could not ever imagine being that person, not to say that poets ought not be recompensed for their work, but that writers always find reasons to write. If anything, though, the world often rejects its thinkers, in certain ways, as the true artist will insist on being truthful. Poets, to me, are like journalists, who have practised balanced journalism. Yes, I would certainly like to see our poets have better standards of living but I would not endorse the works of anyone favouring specific groups exclusively above others. As for politics, at varying levels, sadly we far too often see that at play, and that sometimes includes politics in the world of art itself.


NILAVRONILL: Do you consider, your national identity as an important factor to influence your literary creativity? Is your national identity an incentive for you to find your own literary voice?


RICHARD DOIRON: I am Canadian, but my ancestry is European. I know the price our Native people have paid thanks to invaders coming here and destroying entire Nations, cultures, being unjust, despite the fact that without the generous assistance of Native people, many of my ancestors would not have survived their first winter here. My Native friends, some of whom have been my finest teachers (on occasion without speaking a single word), often sign off with “all my relations,” acknowledging how we are all interconnected. That we have failed to learn this has been a disaster for us all. As I previously said I consider myself a spiritual writer, but that would be consistent with Native Spirituality more than any other influential factors.


NILAVRONILL: In between tradition and modernism, which one influence you most and why?


RICHARD DOIRON: Modernism is a term that could have been applied to any and all successive age, where tradition would be slower to evolve. In my lifetime I have certainly seen a loss of traditional values, as the pace of “modern” developments outpaced our abilities to properly process the changes that have occurred, emphasis placed on economics based on greed and myopic vision, true visionaries cast aside. When I look at the shape of the world right now, it is tear-inducing. Humans have now far too often become secondary to machinery. I rarely go out but I have seen groups, such as families, sit in restaurants, each one chatting on a smartphone, not with the people supposedly there for bonding. I want no part of that mindset; when someone drops in on me, I turn the machinery off. In that sense, I revert to tradition. No doubt, we need to adapt to certain changes, but that should not imply at the loss of our humanity.


NILAVRONILL: Do you think honest literary criticism has much to do with the development of a poet and the true understanding of his or her poetry?


RICHARD DOIRON: Well, this is interesting. On whose shoulders does it fall to offer literary criticism to someone else? Some things are subjective, no doubt. Occasionally, someone will comment on a poem I have posted and say something like “this is really good and matches my way of thinking.” Okay, so is the work actually good or is it about being in agreement with someone else's world views?  My writing is not to accommodate any particular mindset. Poems can be simple or very complex, but that falls on the poets themselves to resolve. Some people can write all the poems they want, but are they merely writing poems, as some might pluck guitars?


NILAVRONILL: I would like to know, whether your contemporaries inspire your writings in any way.


RICHARD DOIRON: Over the years I have encountered poets whose works are so special that I'm almost in awe. At the loss of such people, I have been known to weep. I am always impressed by insightful and forthright writers. It can take courage to tackle controversy. I greatly admire acts of visible courage. Do such persons inspire my writing, it is possible; if something causes me to reflect, that is usually a good thing.


NILAVRONILL: Do you believe, literature can eventually help people to uplift human conscience?


RICHARD DOIRON: We definitely need our writers and our thinkers. If we have ever moved ahead, historically, we would have to assign credit to such persons as have led the way when leadership was needed. When someone reads Desiderata, for instance, that is something that necessarily prompts the reader to look at the world through a difference lens. The written word holds a lot of merit in our world. Online I see countless posts of people promoting quotes made by historical figures. This shows the social influence of writers and thinkers in our collective lives.


NILAVRONILL: Humanity has suffered immensely in the past, and is still suffering around the world. We all know it well. As a poet or even as a literary person, how do you foresee the future of mankind?


RICHARD DOIRON: This is a tough one. Because I have lived many years and observed many a development in our world, at present it is difficult to hold a positive viewpoint on humanity. And here I again refer to the Native outlook I have grown so fond of admiring: we are all interconnected, but the disconnect is taking hundreds of lifeforms away from us daily, never to be seen again. We are part of the whole; we hear of a Sixth Mass Extinction process underway; we are part of that eco-system; we are told that 50-70% of life forms in the ocean have been lost, along with equal numbers of land mammals, in the last half century, so where does that put us if not in a catastrophic scenario?


NILAVRONILL: We are almost at the end of the interview. I remain obliged to you for your participation. Now, personally I would like to know your honest opinion about Our Poetry Archive. Since April 2015 we are publishing and archiving contemporary world poetry each and every month. Thank you for sharing your views and spending much time with us.


RICHARD DOIRON: Well sir, I have followed your OPA endeavours all along, and the work you do is remarkable. In my life, I have occasionally organized events of note, and I know how much effort it took to achieve end results, and that you have been so consistent in your promotion of poets, your compiling of so much work, this is nothing short of momentous and monumental stuff. I have benefited from your publications and generosity on numerous occasions myself and am most grateful at your generosity and the vision you embody as well. I thank you most sincerely for all that you do for my fellow scribes. I am now into my sixtieth year of being published, and I could not think of a better forum for that to have become a reality. Thank you so much indeed and continued health and success into the New Year and in your literary endeavours and pursuits.


RICHARD DOIRON: work in print 59 years; estimated 1000 poems published in some 200 anthologies, periodicals, personal books; author of novels, biographical works, essays, and lyricist. Graduate in journalism and Certified Lifeskills Coach; work read at the United Nations University for Peace, Costa Rica; published alongside a dozen Nobel Prize Winners by invitation, including the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, and Desmond Tutu. Participant in local, national, and international literary festivals; 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award winner with World Poetry; 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award with Pentasi B World Friendship Poetry; 2017 nominated for "There is a Winner in You" Lifetime Achievement Award with ARTeryUSA, nominated by James Pasqual Bettio, former senator in the California Senior Legislature. 2019 named World Poet Laureate by the group Pentasi B World Friendship Poetry. Twice nominated for Governor-General's Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize. Nominated to the Order of New Brunswick, 2019. Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, 2019.

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