Open Book: Toronto Profiles Helen Guri
Can you describe an experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a poet?
Very early in my life, when I still planned to become a veterinarian, an adult stranger asked me the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We were on a ski lift together.
Believing that the short form of “veterinarian” was “veteran,” this is what I answered, to the stranger’s astonished silence. I was maybe seven years old.
The embarrassment of this mistake, when I later realized it, ruined me for the care of small animals, and, as the stranger’s reaction had suggested, I was not a particularly likely candidate for the military. This left poetry. I was, after all, uncommonly good at confusing words.
What has been your most unlikely source of inspiration?
I don’t really know how to answer this question because all inspiration strikes me as unlikely. There I am, in an Etobicoke parking lot, on a break from a temp job as a provincial test grader, staring up at a giant, hideous tower of uncertain purpose that resembles, in the words of a friend, God’s stick-shift, and, well, there it goes.
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