canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999


TDR Interview: Erina Harris

Erina Harris has been published in literary journals across the country, including: ARC, Grain, The Fiddlehead, Other Voices, CV2, Ink Magazine, and Exile. A member of the League of Canadian Poets, she is continuing to refine her metaphysics and experimental aesthetics. She was short-listed in the 2000 Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award. In 1997 Erina put out a chapbook of her poems the 82 short poems of eliza (Circus Press).

Erina is active in the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario. She acts as an editor, events organiser, workshop facilitator, judge and instructor. She attended the Sage Hill Poetry Colloquium. In 1998 she placed first in This Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt. She is attentive to the many different circles of writing in K-W: the two university communities (the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier University), various local writers, and the covert ‘zine culture. She is currently at work on a full-length poetry manuscript. 

Nathaniel G. Moore interviewed her early in 2001.


time of month

in a town called Reason, women give birth to coat hangers
and Ljubitsa, consults her tea leaves as day breaks, an egg, crooning
"well then, I must take another lover."
her body, a filthy fiddle in someone else’s city gone mad.
when he left her flesh spread like a wound, refusing to bleed.

From the collection several short poems of a woman on fire



ERINA HARRIS: As with most cities, there is no unified Waterloo writing community. From what I can see, even well represented cities, cities that are "on the map," so to speak, are still comprised of many different pockets of writers.  Rumors and myths reach me about other writing scenes and circles:, both tales of antagonistic cliques as well as tales of generalized acceptance. As far as the Waterloo Region goes, I have found writers very supportive of one another, though many local writers do not know about one another (many reasons for this).  

This area has been very supportive of my work. Though many criticize me for it, I am not attached to this area in a way that I feel the need to get it on the proverbial literary map, simply for that sake. It is important to me to support other writers and if we happen to live close by, all the better, in most instances. What I do find enviable about some other areas is that the writers living there are more aware of one another. I am in what I would call a privileged position around these parts, in that I fit in nowhere in particular ( I guess I choose this on some level) but have a foot in many doors.  I have never been comfortable with the limitations (stylistic or otherwise) that can sometimes become part of the culture of belonging to a certain pocket or other, though writers around here are pretty open-minded in that respect.

And writing is a solitary craft anyhow. (And us writers can be cagey!) In my work I have borrowed from many places -Academia, feminism, pop culture, as well as from many different countries, literary traditions and non-traditions. So I keep my ear to the ground in many areas. I suppose this position could be very useful to bring different folks together...I don't tend think a wholly united community of any kind can exist. Diversity and an "underground" are always required.  In terms of this area, as I have said, it would be desirable for its writers to be aware more of one another. There are numerous diverse and skilled writers here & I am interested in seeing them receive more recognition, based on ability and innovation. I am definitely curious to see what would happen if the different local groups were to be gathered... an anthology is an interesting idea. It has been done before in this area.  Likely time for another one.


EH: The pursuit of operating any journal or zine is a valiant one! I hope The New Quarterly is able to maintain longevity. It supports its particular niche (any publication has its own) very strongly and has been important to many up-and-coming writers. It seems to be recognized, in particular, for its keen editorial eye on Canadian fiction. I am no stranger to the profound challenges of fundraising for the arts, and any project with a national focus, as opposed to a solely local focus, has the added difficulty of reaching those who will want to fund and support it. Canada is sadly uncommitted to its artists in general, which adds to the difficulty of any literary operation whatsoever... So we will all have to be astonishingly resilient and crafty.


EH: From promoting and organizing, I have discovered that this would be difficult for this area to pull off. Population size, funding and a few ( at least  a few) totally committed, energetic and obsessed people are required to get something like that off the ground. The local universities promote various reading series and conferences, cultural centres & bookshops often have readings as well.  Fine small presses also exist in the area & there are many organizers, writers and some journals & zines in these parts. However, I have not yet seen the numbers, or met the people so inclined as to oversee a more underground-minded production.  I hope to be surprised. It would be both refreshing and hopefully, one hell of a good time. This area does have small writers festivals, from time to time.


the girl on the swing makes streaks of orange cuts
weeping sky to shreds & peels with her swish.
and swoop.
painted fingernails, the glory.
ropes of oranges & mangoes XX (for a description of her bones).
clementines & marigolds for hair.
body covered in nasturtiums XX fruit-coloured air XX and breathe:
& boys. hiding in the bushes, flock. XX waiting (she sings like this)
to steal; see: XX a single glimpse under her skirts orange in affirmation
as she soars (in this way, visceral electric).
boasts and whispers coming from the bushes, an elbow in the ribs
all speaking at the same time & calling each other names.
the riot in which little boys exist.

now a talking bush inches towards her shedding crows; and she
imagines this is paris, relishes a mouth like summer:
the pathway of an arc through sky begins with pointy red buckle shoes
the little boys are dying to catch a flash of the orange glint in her eye
to be the one to hold it the longest
so it may make them orange too. XX & sky stretched fantastic with she.
someday. (or now in another story :)
a woman in ringed fingers & orange dress will stop here. just so.
poised in perfect lines by the open mouth of this yes swing.
she will try to return here
(o again those eyes on me like stars, again.) she'll say (all her life)
when the heaviness shows through every dreamcometrue
( parcel pick up ma'am ? XX or XX these girls, made of gingham)
this without. which is delicately, & remember.
ringed fingers hers will sift through memory & candyfloss clouds
that once swallowed her little shoes like a promise.
: a woman lingering like this, all raindrops
she will call this XXX orange XXXXXXXXX .
sometimes she remembers and the world goes final, clementine.
while still, her body softly greys.
in this same story the boys too, become.
one day XX she will :
XXXXXXXXXXX fuck one of them
(she tried to get him to whisper gerbera & a jack'o'lantern promise
when he comes)

XXXXXXXXXXX break the heart of the other
with guilt
that will ripen into indifference
(he who will never stop smiling about the small of her back)
XXXXXXXXXXX and be left by the one she will be certain she loves
only just as he is leaving (memory of unattainable oranges) .
but for now

we find her suspended in flight. small yellow sky rethinking
the idea of a thimble.
until then. the little boys quiver in the hedge nervous like peppermint
while all the world's little girls (the oranges on the trees) swell in giggle.
little girls (all affectation & vases) craving the sting of falling into
grasses greedy green fingers: artifice of an awkward tree all dressed up
to the nines in leaves. XXXXX (today the orange sky is still her ladder.)
sky so small sky so small (

To contact erina harris:
c/o madame jacques press
170 university ave west
suite 12 - box 151
waterloo, on   n2l 3e9

Nathaniel G. Moore writes filthy fiction. He also does zine + book reviews for Broken Pencil Magazine. His work has appeared in Urban Graffiti, and B+A New Fiction. 







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