David Groulx was raised in Elliot Lake Ontario. He is proud of his aboriginal roots, Anishnabe and French Canadian. He won the 3rd annual Poetry NOW Battle of the Bards. Read at the IFOA in Toronto & Barrie, (2011), International Ottawa Writers Festival (2012), and the Festival International de la Posie in Trois Riviers, QC. (2014).
He also appeared on The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network APTN in 2001 and 2012. He was the Writer-in-Residence for openbook.com Toronto for November 2012.
His poetry has been translated into both French and Ojibwa. Red River Review nominated his poetry for the Pushcart Prize in 2012. One Throne Magazine nominated his poetry for the National Magazine Awards in 2014. His poetry has appeared in over 165 magazines in 15 countries. He lives in Ottawa Ontario Canada.
Geosi Gyasi: How did you get into writing?
David Groulx: In grade 4 I wrote a short story and was asked to read it aloud to my classmates. I was amazed at how the written word could create such an animated response, especially within the confines of a strict Catholic Educational environment.
Geosi Gyasi: How do you get ideas to write?
David Groulx: Writing is only an expression of an idea, the idea is always something that makes you think so strongly that you want to share it with other people. Or is it emotion that moves you to write the way you feel about an idea ? I think that writing is the mental expression of the emotion that moves me to write. My writing has to do with identity, politics. Ideas come from the exploration of identity especially being from two cultures aboriginal and french. I see Canada as a very ideological place, and I don’t believe that aboriginal or french people are a part of that ideology.
Geosi Gyasi: You were raised in the Northern Ontario mining community of Elliot Lake. Could you tell me something about your childhood?
David Groulx: I think that I had a very fortunate childhood. My childhood home was full of books. Both my parents believed strongly in reading and having us learn how to read. School wasn’t a priority to my parents but education was, thinking and doing for yourself was encouraged.
Geosi Gyasi: Why did you go to En’owkin Centre, BC, to study creative writing?
David Groulx: The En’owkin Centre in BC was the only place of its kind in Canada that teaches creative writing from an Aboriginal perspective. At En’owkin Centre the people realize that when speaking or writing the creation stories of any tribe in Canada there are certain protocols and respect that the dominate society doesn’t understand. When you are an aboriginal writer in Canada, you seldom get the chance to meet other aboriginal writers. An opportunity like En’owkin is so encouraging.
Geosi Gyasi: What is the writing process like for you?
David Groulx: A few cartons of smokes and a few pounds of coffee and a computer that I no longer have, quiet mornings, two dictionaries, three thesauruses (all hard covers of course).
Geosi Gyasi: What inspired your book, “The Long Dance”?
David Groulx: The Long Dance was inspired by events from my childhood. The funny part is the title poem was written in about ten minutes without editing.
Geosi Gyasi: Are you happy as a writer?
David Groulx: I think happiness is very subjective, if I could, I would happily spend the rest of my days writing poetry.
Geosi Gyasi: Which book(s) have had the greatest impact on your writing?
David Groulx: In my opinion, a great book changes the way you think about things, it changes the way you see the world. A book that did that for me was Frantz Fanon: The Wretched of The Earth. Another was Vine Deloria Jr. God is Red and Red Earth, White Lies. I probably owned all of these books at least 4 or 5 times.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you have any ritual you indulge in before you start to write?
David Groulx: Not before. Someone famous once said “When a writer finds out his book is getting published he usually gets sick or he gets drunk”, I prefer the latter.
Geosi Gyasi: How did you choose the title for your book, “Until The Bullets Rose”?
David Groulx: Until the Bullets Rose. That was the original title for A Difficult Beauty. The title was changed to a Difficult Beauty before it came out. During the writing process each of my manuscripts will go through about four or five titles before the final title is chosen.
Geosi Gyasi: Are there times you feel like not writing?
David Groulx: Yes there are, most of those times is when you feel like you aren’t being heard. I usually have a few drinks, feel sorry for myself , pick myself up, dust myself off and start again in the morning. Writing is not for the faint of heart.
Geosi Gyasi: Tell me about the inspiration behind your poem, “Hobbesian Notions”?
David Groulx: I find western philosophers such as Decartes and Rousseau and Hobbs premise their writings that man was born alone and learns to live in a community. I think in contrast to that, in aboriginal philosophy men are born in a community and live within that community. When aboriginal people came into contact with Europeans, western philosophical thought had an opposite polarizing effect on those communities and instead of living in their own societies aboriginal peoples lives became “nasty, brutish and short”. As a result of western philosophical thought and its views on the state of nature, aboriginal lives continue to be “nasty, brutish and short”.
Geosi Gyasi: What are you likely to be caught doing when not writing?
David Groulx: Can be seen visiting my local watering hole, or feeding the wildlife in my neighborhood.
Geosi Gyasi: What do you regard as the greatest poem you’ve ever written?
David Groulx: I find the greatest poem I’ve ever written seems to be the one I’m currently working on.