1. How did you conceive your first book?
Although I have a manuscript of unpublished poems, “Untamed,” written back in Poland when I was in my 20’s, I would like to talk about my first book in Canada, Whatever We Are, which was published by Hidden Brook Press in 2019. It took me over 25 years to feel that I could write in English in much the same way as I write in Polish. For years I expressed myself visually as an artist, being represented by galleries and having my paintings in the collection of Archives Ontario and in various museums in Poland. My first published book was written as a collection of reflections on life, provoked by memories that I wanted to share.
2. What does it mean/suggest for you to think about your writing as a craft that you can grow as a writer? How do you do that?
For me poetry is the interpretation of reality, not just a description of it. When writing, I concentrate on projecting my thoughts about something by translating them into metaphors. I like my words to be measured and precise – to be more than just words, but rather the keys to open new ways of expression. I don’t care if I’m stylish enough to satisfy certain popular demands. What I seek is originality in my work, based on the power of language. So, when I find it, I feel sufficiently rewarded.
3. What specific incident incited/inspired your last piece of work?
My upcoming third book Solace took one year to write and was completed during the pandemic when I was coping, much like everyone else, with the imposed isolation and witnessing the deaths of so many people around the world. This was an especially difficult time for me because I couldn’t visit my sister, Krystyna, who was in the last stages of dementia in her long-term care home. To cope with the feelings of despair and sadness, I began writing daily to find relief from my painful thoughts.
4. What was the most satisfying aspect of your recently completed work?
The completion of my third book Solace. Writing is an internal and external journey where we can visit places that nobody entered before us, to wander, or at times just to enjoy the simple things that life brings. As poets we are receptive to everything around us; we reflect on events in our personal life and on what is happening on the world stage. Emotional stress triggers the impulse to write. It is an important factor in the creation of my artwork and poems. In this book, I was looking for ways to find comfort during the pandemic and ways to cope with grief.
5. What writing rituals or behavioral patterns do you follow?
I write mostly in the morning. Sometimes during the night, a line of poetry comes to me unexpectedly and then I need to write it down. From this line, other lines appear, and so the poem arrives. I’m not committed to a specific morning routine like some writers. I wait for a special urge to write. Writing is never easy for me. Also , I’m never fully satisfied with the outcome. I measure myself against the best crafters of poetry, admiring their perfection, where everything has its place. I go through many drafts before the poem assumes its final shape.
6. Have you ever collaborated on a writing project with another writer? Or maybe you’ve collaborated with an artist/dancer/musician/actor? Can you share your experience?
Although I prefer to be left alone while creating a painting or writing, I really enjoyed the collaboration of writing the poetry book Fire and Water with my husband, Laurence Hutchman. The idea for the book was born naturally when we realized that we had a number of poems, which expressed love and longing, and were written at the beginning of our relationship when we were living in different provinces. The poems are passionate and driven by the power of love. Given the fact that I am an artist, producing illustrations to complement them was a natural next step for me.
7. What stories do you have (perhaps generative, perhaps constraining) about yourself as a writer? How have these stories changed or remained the same over time/across different experiences?
I’m not a typical storyteller as other poets I know, although I carry many stories with me. Especially the ones connected to experiences as a young woman back in Poland, which was then under the Communist regime. During this time, tensions were building between the Communist government and the Solidarity movement. Many innocent people were jailed. I left my country to seek peace, to live in a democratic country with free elections, to be able to travel to different places in the world without restrictions imposed by police. I would like to write about this and about my first years in Canada as a refugee, but I still find it difficult to find the right words for expressing my experience. Maybe I will write it down soon. My past is waiting. It needs to be told.
8. What is your understanding of an effective piece of writing?
In my opinion, effective writing when completed represents what the poet intended to achieve. It is the message that he/she expresses to engage the reader in a productive dialogue. Also, it is a piece of writing containing a brilliant structure, or a unique choice of words that create lines of the finest expression.
9. Can you name a source of inspiration before the age of 12 that impacted your writing in some way?
I wrote my first poem at the age of 11. It was about a river. Until then, I believed that only adults could be poets. There was no encouragement from teachers to write poems in the classroom. However, when my best friend, Alina, showed me her poem, I knew that I wanted to write them too. From that moment poetry continues to live with me—sometimes it speaks quietly, while at other times it sings.
Eva Kolacz is a poet and artist living in Ontario. She graduated from the Fine Arts Department of the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. Her works can be found in private and public collections, including, the Archives of the Government of Ontario and the national museums of Poland. Kolacz is a member of the League of Canadian Poets, the Ontario Poetry Society, and the Ontario Society of Artists. She has published Whatever We Are with Hidden Brook Press in 2019, Fire and Water (with Laurence Hutchman) with Black Moss Press in 2020, and this autumn, “Solace” will be published with Black Moss Press.