Rachel Rose is a dual American/Canadian citizen whose work has appeared in various journals in Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and Japan, including Poetry, The Malahat Review and The Best American Poetry, as well as numerous anthologies. Her most recent book, Song & Spectacle (2012) won the Audre Lorde Poetry Award in the U.S. and the Pat Lowther Award in Canada. She is the winner of the Peterson Memorial Prize for poetry and the Bronwen Wallace award for fiction, and the recipient of a 2014 Pushcart Prize. She is the Poet Laureate of Vancouver for 2014-2017.
What is the most valuable insight or skill that your VMI writers have learned from you?
To separate and protect the creative self from the fraught realities of publishing; to nurture creative joy.
What do you gain from the mentoring process?
Many gifts: I gain new ways of seeing, of thinking, of approaching creative challenges; I gain opportunities to collaborate with writers who in turn teach me, and I am forced to clarify my own techniques.
What will VMI participants gain from the program?
The opportunity to work with someone who is invested in the success of their project.
What is the most valuable piece of writing advice you have received?
As Elmore Leonard says, "It doesn't get easier, it gets harder. But it's fun, it better be fun. Otherwise why spend all that time doing it?" So for me, it's that hard fun--very difficult, maddeningly challenging joy.
What book, poem or other written work has been most inspirational to you?
Impossible question! I will limit myself to four, with difficulty: Robert McKee's Story, Phil Stutz and Barry Michel's The Tools, Frances Mayes' The Discovery of Poetry, and Vivian Gornick's The Situation and the Story.
What books do you recommend VMI participants read for additional advice?
The four above are a good place to start.
What are you currently working on?
A memoir about riding along with police dogs.
What do you enjoy most about being a VMI mentor?
The opportunity to work with one individual, and one project, over an extended period of time. It is a deeply satisfying way of working, as I can give the writer and the work precisely what they need to flourish.
What do you wish you knew when writing your first manuscript that you know now?
Critics can be cruel; editors can be sloppy or unfair; thus, a community (even of one or two other trusted writers) is sustaining and essential.