Sherwin Tjia profiled in Capital Xtra!

Capital Xtra!, Ottawa's LGBT biweekly paper, ran a profile on author and artist Sherwin Tjia on April 15, 2009. The profile, written by Lorraine Garrison, paid special attention to Tjia's poetry collection The World Is A Heartbreaker.

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Punchy, postmodern, irreverent, surreal, somehow flirtatious and occasionally just plain weird, Sherwin Tjia's poetry is like the most random, unkempt, one-night stand you ever brought home from a drag show.

Self-proclaimed pop-culture addict and video game lover, Montreal's Tjia writes his bizarre and strangely charming 'pseudo-haiku' as if they were the titles to larger works -- but there is no larger work that follows.

The form is astonishingly short, consisting of three non-rhyming lines, usually no more than three words on each line, sometimes as short as three simple words, one after the other, not necessarily in a coherent order. Tjia says he writes these pseudo-haikus because it's the form that appeals to him the most and is the least constraining.

'I would write a very cool title for a poem,' he says, talking around a thick cold, nasal and wheezing, 'and the poem itself wouldn't live up to it. So I cut out the middle man.'

Tjia collected them for The World Is A Heartbreaker (2005) published by Coach House Books -- the same Toronto-based publishing house that put out the words of bpNichol, Steve McCaffery and the early works of Michael Onadaatje.

Tjia is also a painter and illustrator. He is the author of two collections of poetry and two collections of comic strips, Pedigree Girls, and Pedigree Girls Forever. This fall, The Hipless Boy, a collection of short, interconnected graphic stories will be released by Conundrum Press. He's also the quirky organizer of Slowdance Nights and Strip Spelling Bees in Montreal, Toronto and now Ottawa.


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