Harry Posner: A man of many words, books, and talents!
Harry and I have been friends for many years and I can never read any of his writing without hearing that smooth voice that lingers from word to word like a fine musician plays notes on a piano! Without further ado.... Here's Harry...
Harry is Dufferin County's Poet Laureate, organizer and host of the annual Day of the Poets festival in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada, and co-host with Peter Noce of The Sill podcast (www.thesillpodcast.com).
What genre do you write?
If I had to pin it down, I would say that I’m writing in the literary fiction genre. You know, the kind of writing you shake your head at and say, “Now, what in the heck is this writer going on about?” Often, as well, my poetic tendencies creep into my books and stories, so they can end up feeling like poetic prose or prosy poetry.
Does your reading choices reflect your writing choices?
Yes, often. But I also like to touch base with non-fiction every now and then, so that I don’t get swept off the planet on a cloud of my own imaginings. I need that tether to ground me, and also as a source of good information, especially if my book/poem explores those areas. I’m currently reading Catherine Gildiner’s GOOD MORNING, MONSTER, which is an account of five of her psychotherapeutic patients and their heroic journeys. I graduated with a degree in counseling psychology, so these kinds of books are great for me as a writer to deepen my understanding of why people do what they do. I’ll also be interviewing Catherine about her book on December 3rd, as part of Orangeville Library’s annual WOW (Words the Orangeville Way).
Which type of characters are your favorite to write?
I like to write characters who are on the edge in some way, whether it be through their own making, or the circumstances in which they’ve been raised. ‘Normal’ characters don’t interest me that much. Maybe it’s because I’m something of a weirdo myself, in the way I think about the world. Some writers who I appreciate in this regard include Chuck Palahniuk, Donald Barthelme and Lydia Davis.
If you could offer once piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Don’t get stuck in the ‘writing what you know’ schtick. One of the great pleasures of this craft is the exploration of parts of the world and of human endeavour that you would never have experienced if it weren’t for the impulse to write about it. Read books about stuff that you have little to no interest in. I know, it’s tough. But it’s an exercise that helps on several levels: we learn something new; we exercise our willpower (which is indispensable when it comes to long-form writing); and we stay unstuck from the one-note groove of ‘what we know’. I’m not saying don’t write about what you know. But don’t get stuck there!
Do your characters come before or after your plot?
They tend to come before the plot. I fall into the category of intuitive scribblers, letting the plot find its own direction based upon the world in which the character is living. Somewhere it is said that ‘character is destiny’. I truly believe this, and that all else follows from character. In other words, who you are is what you do.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished a first draft of HERE IS BETTY, the third novella in a trilogy that started with PEGGY LEE’S DELICIOUS LIPS (Quattro Books), followed by DUX DISPAR (currently being shopped around). I also continue to write and present poetry as part of my duties as Poet Laureate.
A smorgasboard of Harry's books...
PEGGY LEE’S DELICIOUS LIPS
Percy Barnum Thurman is driving up a hill in the countryside. That’s it. That’s all. Except for the thousand and one moments in a squidgy life that determine who and what we are, that leap in front of us like a startled deer shooting across the road in front of a man driving up a hill in the countryside. Metafiction that is very bendy.
Flash fiction that explores the wonder and mystery and terror that is death. Funny, poignant, profound. You’ll die every which way but loose!
Poetry that explores the nature of, the feelings of, the adventure of life as a bird. Includes bird paintings by the author. Perfect for the young reader.