The Author Spotlight Series shines a light on writers creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their books and why they do what they do.
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“Joseph Dandurand is a member of the Kwantlen First Nation, located on the Fraser River about twenty minutes east of Vancouver, BC. He resides there with his three children. Dandurand is the director of the Kwantlen Cultural Centre and the author of several books of poetry including The East Side of It All (Nightwood Editions, 2020), which was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize. In 2021, Dandurand received the BC Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.”
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I was in college about to go on to Theater School at the University of Ottawa and I took a creative writing course and wrote a short story about my grandfather and when I finished the story the whole class was silent. It was then I knew I had a passion to write.
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
It was a short story about my grandfather who killed himself when I was 14. The story was about when we buried him. He was a fisherman all his life. When the last shovel of dirt was placed an eagle could be seen soaring over the river and then it dove and took a salmon. The story ends with the last line…’my grandfather lived on…’
How did you develop your skills?
I kept writing as I finished school and when I graduated my first job was as an intern at the museum of civilization where I wrote scripts for their interpretative theater company. From there I went on to Toronto where I was the playwright in residence. Through the last 30 years I write every day.
Who are some of your biggest literary influences? Do you have a favourite book /author?
I read all of Charles Bukowski. I really liked his method and simple word use. Even though what he writes about is ugly I still liked his style. I today try and keep my work simple event though the content is ugly.
How would you describe your work?
My last manuscripts of poetry are in the style of 3 paragraphs of run on sentences. Again I keep it simple, and each poem is thought or emotion, image, dream, or something through which I have lived. Also my work on the east side of Vancouver has influenced my work. I would describe my work as simple and tragic and endless.
What’s your writing process like?
I write every day at 5am. When I am working on poetry, I write one poem a day. when I am writing a new play, I write one scene a day. when I am working on a book of short stories I write one story a day. I never get writer’s block. I know enough to take a break. This does not last very long as the desire to create is always there.
Tell us about your most recent book.
I just finished a new manuscript of poetry. I am taking a few days off but the desire to write is overwhelming me and I think I will write a new children’s play.
What are you working on now/next?
I am reviewing a friend’s book of poetry and I am to write a blurb for the book. I think I will write a new children’s play. Something to do with sasquatch and other creatures that children really like to see on the stage. After that I will be back to poetry. I love poetry and it does not love me…
Joseph’s latest children’s book was released on April 29th called The Girl Who Loved The Birds.