Nedjo Roger’s often politically engaged poetry and songwriting pursue glimpses of transcendence in the everyday. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Canadian Literature, SubTerrain, Contemporary Verse 2, and Class Collective, among others journals and online publications, and in various chapbooks including In Air/Air Out in 2011.
PP: It’s been a minute since we last connected. What are some artistic projects you’ve worked on in the past few years?
NR: In 2014 I wrote and performed a Chaucer-inspired solo mock epic in verse, “The Trois-Rivieres Tales,” for the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival and reprised it in 2016 in Vancouver and on Salt Spring Island. So much fun to be part of the Fringe.
In 2018 I was lucky enough to connect with a travelling musician JA Cockburn who arranged and recorded a bunch of my songs, which led to the 9-song album My Utopia Is DIY.
In 2019 with sponsorship from Salt Spring Arts I put together a two-day performance festival, Saltfest. I lined up a performance space and ten shows, supported the artists with their performance needs, hosted.
PP: Wow! That’s an amazing amount of productivity and lifting up other writers. What have you read lately that lit you up? Can you add a why or how for the shoutout.
NR: I’ve been intrigued by approaches to narrative. Ali Smith’s Companion Piece, how it freely weaves in myth, etymology, dream. In Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout I was fascinated by how explicitly the narrator sets out structure and even the mechanics of the story. How does this not interfere with the spell of the fiction? But it didn’t, at least not for me as a reader. I also recently read or reread most of Ivan Coyote’s back catalogue. Love their storytelling.
PP: Solid choice. Love Ivan’s books too. What’s your life’s focus these days, literary or otherwise?
NR: The highlights are of my week are two afternoons my partner and I spend with our two year old grandchild, plus a day a week I help out one of my kids on their farm. I fit in paid work and writing where I can around that.
PP: That sounds super-healthy and life-work balanced.What have you got underway or forthcoming? Anything you can speak about?
NR: I have a piece coming up in Canadian Literature’s special issue on poetics and extraction. I’m at work on and off on a history of mining in British Columbia inspired by the vignette style of narrative that Eduardo Galeano used in his Memory of Fire trilogy.
PP: Cool. I’ll check that out. Any other work can people read?
NR: My chapbook A Country In Between with two pieces I wrote for performance is available as a PDF to download and print. The first piece is a sonnet cycle that begins from the question: how would the “fair youth” that most of Shakespeare’s sonnets are addressed to to respond to the bard?
A satirical poem “The Meaning of Class in Relatively Wealthy Industrialized States Fairly Early in the Twenty First Century” is in Class Collective, which describes itself as “A literary magazine that illuminates the class struggle(s) hidden in the shadows of our culture.”
PP: Cool. Any author site, social media urls or things you’d like to plug?
PP: Super. Thanks for taking your time to share all this! Any last notes?
NR: Just that I love what you’re doing here, checking in with the many writers you’ve published. It’s been fun reading on your blog what others have been up to. So much of the arts is this work of connecting. So thanks for this!
PP: Quite literally, my pleasure. It’s wondrous how much skilled creativity there is busting out all around.