Poet and U of C Writer-in-Residence

Photo of Nick Thran from CBC News, The Calgary Eyeopener August 28, 2015

Nick Thran, CBC News, The Calgary Eyeopener August 28, 2015

On November 3, we were delighted to have as our guest speaker Mr. Nick Thran, author of three books of poetry and this year’s University of Calgary Writer-in-Residence. A native of Prince George BC, he received his Masters of Fine Arts from New York University (NYU). Currently he is poetry editor for Brick Books. He is married to poet Sue Sinclair and they have a young daughter.

We were given an interesting glimpse into the mind of a poet, as Mr. Thran talked about motivations and behind-the-scenes efforts of writing poetry. As a child, his family moved a great deal and he experienced intense feelings as a teen which he was able to express through poetry.

He discussed the importance of finding images which resonate in one’s life so as to be able to fit these intense images into writing. For example, he carried an image of a flooded river in the south of Spain when he was 16 years old. The ripe oranges from the local orchards had spilled over into the flooded river and this image stayed with him. Years later, when he read Ezra Pound’s poem, “In the Station of the Metro,”  the memory of the oranges resonated and he was able to make a connection and write a poem.

While still a young man, Nick Thran had the opportunity to work in a book store and was allowed to take home all the books he wanted as long as he returned them the next day in pristine condition. This afforded him the freedom to read a huge variety of books. He feels that he became a better poet by reading broadly.  While taking his Masters at NYU, he was influenced greatly by a professor of journalism, Lawrence Weschler.

His wife, Sue Sinclair, is a poet. He read one line from one of her poems – “side by side with eternity, but never touch” – the comma is extremely important! He taught us that poets spend a great deal of time dealing with the microscope of the language in a tactile way.

We were fortunate to hear Nick Thran read several of his poems:

  • “Azucar” (sugar)
  • “Marginalia”
  • A poem from the book, Earworm, “Coastguard vessel pleasure boat” in which each line was taken from headlines of Globe and Mail newspaper articles
  • “The Particular Melon” is from his newest book, Mayor Snow, about two fictional people having a conversation about making a film about a melon

And he read an excerpt from an essay, “My Library.”

After time for questions from the audience, Anne Tingle thanked Nick Thran for helping us de-construct poetry.


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