Poets on Record

A special online series exploring the work and creative process of writers through video interviews. New short videos were released weekly throughout the spring of 2014.


Patrick Friesen

Patrick Friesen, a resident of Winnipeg for 30 years and Vancouver for a dozen years, now lives in Brentwood Bay, Vancouver Island. He is the author of several books of poetry, most recently A Dark Boat (2012), a translator, and has written several stage and radio plays. Friesen has also collaborated with choreographers, dancers, musicians and composers. His book, Blasphemer’s Wheel, was awarded Manitoba Book of the Year Prize in 1996; A Broken Bowl, was a finalist for the 1997 Governor-General’s Award; and Patrick was awarded the ReLit Award for Poetry in 2012 for jumping in the asylum.

Winnipeg: A Halo of Lights on the Horizon (1:58)

In this video, Patrick Friesen describes why Winnipeg is the heart of his life.

Starting Out: “The Words Were There, Always” (1:09)

Patrick Friesen talks about how reading and writing have always been an important part of his life.

Growing Up: Believing in Words (3:02)

Patrick Friesen believes that “a person writes out of what they know towards what they don’t know.” In this video, he discusses how his Mennonite childhood influenced his eventual belief in the power and meaning of words.

The Writing Life: Teaching and Throwing Hand Grenades (2:49)

Patrick Friesen talks about being a teacher, inspiring excitement in his students and why he doesn't think his job takes away from his writing.

Genre Lines: The Colour of a Note (2:57)

Patrick Friesen describes the importance of music and sound in his writing and how his collaborations with musicians such as Marilyn Lerner have helped him to both focus and distort his senses.

Inspiration: The Imagery of Winnipeg (2:34)

Despite moving from Manitoba the West Coast because he felt a "strong desire to leave," Patrick Friesen believes that Winnipeg is his home.

Writing Community: Collaboration as a Way of Life (4:26)

Collaboration is one of the main sources of inspiration for Patrick Friesen. In this video he explains how important his collaborations in music, dance and translation have become for him and his work.

The Creative Process: Writing is about Thinking (3:54)

Patrick Friesen describes his creative thought process and the constraints he observes.

Culture: Mennonite Writing (6:01)

The writing community in Winnipeg has been profoundly shaped by Mennonite writers such as Di Brandt, David Bergen, Miriam Toews, Sarah Klassen and (the interviewee in this video) Patrick Friesen. Many of the city’s best known novelists and poets are of a Mennonite background and several have been involved in creating and maintaining writing communities within Manitoba. In this video, Friesen speaks to why this may be the case and why the Mennonite traditions of storytelling, organization, and spirituality actually help foster great writers.

Writing from Experience: Moving to Winnipeg (4:36)

Patrick Friesen moved to Winnipeg to go to University. In this video he describes how his education at the University of Manitoba inspired his love of language, sparked his interest in writing and eventually led to his being one of the first authors published at Turnstone Press.

Poetry Books: Spain and The Dark Boat (3:50)

Patrick Friesen talks about the inspiration and research behind his book The Dark Boat, released by Anvil Press in 2011, including his submersion into Spanish culture during his trip to Spain.

On Editing: Finishing a Book (3:35)

Patrick Friesen describes why he has difficulty knowing when a work is finished and why he prefers publishing quickly rather than trying to obtain perfection.

Awards & Reviews: Placement Among Peers (0:41)

In this video, Friesen tries to describe how he feels about the many awards and nominations he has received.

Advice for Writers: Experience, Wisdom, and Bullshit (2:47)

Patrick Friesen offers some advice for new writers.

Poem: an audience with the dalai lama or, the old-fashioned pas de deux (5:24)

Patrick Friesen reads his poem "an audience with the dalai lama or, the old-fashioned pas de deux" for Poets on Record.

Poem: Anna (First Dance) (3:31)

Patrick Friesen reads his poem "Anna (First Dance)" for Poets on Record.

Poem: Barrio Santa Cruz (0:48)

Patrick Friesen reads his poem "Barrio Santa Cruz" for Poets on Record.


See all Poets on Record videos >