Bad Habits is the outstanding new collection of poems by one of Canada’s senior and most important poets and literary figures.
Fraser Sutherland occupies a unique place in the literaty culture of Canada. He is widely travelled, and has been a freelance writer, reporter and staff writer for major newspapers and magazine, including the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Wall Street Journal, Quill & Quire, and Books in Canada. He is widely admired as a critic and editor. He is the only Canadian poet who can claim to be a lexicographer having written and edited for dictionaries in three countries. He has published fourteen books in many genres ranging from poetry to history, business to essays, short story collections to a thesaurus. His work has been published in many journals and anthologies, and has been translated into Farsi, French, Italian, Albanian, and Serbo-Croat.
Fraser Sutherland explaining himself:“Working in various literary genres has had a peculiar effect on me. As soon as I’ve started working in one genre, I start feeling guilty about not doing something else.”
“Poetry can’t defeat ongoing ignorance, repetitive wrong-doing, physical deterioration nor persona extinction. But to say a few meaningful words about being in the world in the face of infinity and eternity – well, that’s something.”
“I’m …curmudgeon, contrarian, realist by turns; but basically? I’m a counterpuncher.”
“Canadian poetry also faces structural problems. An unending series of arts-council subsidized first books drop off the production line into a void. Few receive reviews; and, those that do receive them are usually superficial or sycophantic. Even more regrettably, no one attempts an overview of the poet’s working past, much less our collective literary past. The same is true of publishing…Publicity replaces criticism while big cash prizes become Potemkin-Village substitutes for a healthy engaged culture.”
“One apparent oddity on my CV, by no means the only one, is my work on dictionaries. For many years I earned a minimum-wage living as a freelance, self-taught lexicographer, chiefly dealing with definitions. Apart from some cross-over with creative work, editing and writing definitions has had its obsessive-compulsive satisfactions.”It’s just as hard as ever to be a writer; to make something fresh, something good. And it’s just as hard as ever to find wisdom.”
“The idea of poetry-writing as therapy is especially seductive; if you’re writing a poem and it’s going well there’s no better feeling in the world.”“Geographically, I’m a displaced, unreconstructed Nova Scotian farm boy. I kept returning home through adulthood, only to find I wasn’t at home. But I’m a Maritimer, and always will be. Given a Scottish Canadian background, one was expected to get an education and make good. Instead, I slowly, systematically set about making myself unemployable.”
“Somehow, a good writer has to work aslant to the existing order. For a writer to be popular, to win prizes, to be feted by the media – those to me are grounds for suspicion. If the trappings of public success, however welcome, began to descend on me I’d start to suspect myself.”
“Existentially, I think writers have to be moved by a certain dissatisfaction with the way things are. Even a poem in praise of life and the living implies that it’s necessary to add something to the sum of the world, that a step is being taken toward redemption and completion.”