Headwaters Inspired Profile: Harry Posner


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Location: French Press

When the muse comes, he’s ready to write

Harry Posner is quite proud to be Dufferin County’s first Poet Laureate.

“I know towns and cities have Poet Laureates – Owen Sound is on their sixth one, Toronto on their fifth, and Collingwood will soon have one, but I think we are the first county. The idea was suggested to Dufferin County by our local MP, which might surprise a few people.”

Posner is often asked what a Poet Laureate does. In his position, he has a few specific obligations such as writing poetry, making public appearances and promoting literacy overall, but he’s taken it far beyond those duties.

See ekphrastic poetry for yourself

He’s helping to organize an innovative show, Lines That Bind that combines visual art and poetry.

Posner explains, “We ask a painter to paint a picture, then have a poet spend time with the painting and write a poem influenced by what he or she sees and feels. Then we give that poem to a different painter and ask them to paint something inspired by the poem. That’s called ekphrastic poetry, where a poem amplifies and expands the meaning of a painting.”

In simpler terms, Posner refers to it as “an artistic telephone game”.

No stuffy garrets for this poet

Posner likes to write in public, specifically coffee shops. He’s comfortable with the background noise, and sometimes he’ll overhear conversations that inspire a piece of writing.

“I used to be a professional chess player,” said Posner, “So I’ve learned to focus and not let noise bother me. I like to be in public. I get energy from people around me.”

Have you been visited by a muse?

Like many writers, musicians and painters, Posner believes in the “muse”. He writes when the muse comes, and spends some time thinking about what he wants to write. Then he gets down a first draft which may require a few edits, but not countless revisions like some writers.

Posner also believes in paying attention to his dreams. “If I remember a dream, or wake up in the middle of the night thinking about a dream, I’ll stay awake and mull it over to keep it going so that I can write about it that day. I’ve done a lot of writing based on dreams.”

Posner notes that he writes more than poetry, having completed numerous works of fiction, audio books and an e-zine. How does he manage all these projects?

“I’m writing more than ever. It’s a gas and a half.”