Bio: Patrick Woodcock
He was born - July 12th - thus his first name is William
after the orange fela his second name is Patrick after the 
other fela - emotionally torn - his first two names bring 
together the loving protestants and catholics - to top this 
off with Woodcock (which is a name Shakespeare used to 
mean idiot) is certainly one of the classics of the name 
game. He found out what his name meant in grade 5 
through a gesture he wants to forget read Dostoevsky's 
The Idiot in high school and decided he had to move to 
Russia or at least get as close as he could - drank till 
morn - had his first real beer in Montreal and decided to 
move there . . .many moves later including Iceland, 
Poland, Russia, The Baltics, The Balkans especially 
Bosnia and Herzegovina - The Sultanate of Oman and 
India, he now lives in Saudi Arabia. His seventh book of 
poetry Forgive The Host, Then Bury Him is due for 
publication Nov 2006. The future? Poet Laureate of Acton? 
And died playing the fluegelhorn.


Q:   Patrick, why do you write?
A: It helps postpone my inevitable physical and mental decay. Layton said that if he 
didn't write during the day he felt like a lump of coal. I feel the same way but would 
change 'a lump of coal' to 'the cover art for John Denver's Greatest Hits Volume 2.' 
Empty. It's just something you're naturally drawn to do isn't it?  Even when nothing 
happens and the act itself is literally making me ill I feel I must continue with it. There 
are many days when I dread the thought of sitting down and writing. It's quite similar to 
the way I feel about eating. I really derive little pleasure from eating anymore, but 
obviously I must. 
Q:   Why do you think anyone will be interested in what you write?
A: I don`t really think about it - which doesn't mean I don`t care. It just means that 
the interests of others has little affect on my approach to writing. 
Q:    Do you think there are too many 'young' poets at the moment? If so, how 
can they improve or define the Canadian canon? Does it need to improve -we have 
Layton, Cohen, Purdy, Bissett, Atwood,Gord Downie already. 
A: I can't answer the first question. But, I do believe there are too many people, 
both old and young, who call themselves poets. I think the word 'poet' and 'poetry' has 
gone to rot. Why do so many people care about the Canadian canon or at least pretend 
to? I don't like Layton, Cohen (note: Gordon Lightfoot is a better lyricist than Cohen) 
and Purdy because they are Canadian. I like them because they are good poets. What 
about Nowlan? I rarely hear anyone talk about him anymore and I think he is the best. 
When will Canadians just accept that not having an identity is our identity not everything 
can be defined. We cannot have one voice one definition or absolute - stating 
what a Canadian is. How do we define the canon? I don't know. Can a poet in Toronto be 
the voice of Iqaluit? 
If I read a Canadian poem that is average am I then supposed to praise it because it is 
Canadian? Am I supposed to suffer it and give it the benefit of the north side of the 
border doubt. I fear the kind of community that would allow this to happen. They are 
the same people who refuse to believe nationalism can (not will) lead to isolationism and 
artistic mediocrity. Maybe I just want to be an other writer among other poets among 
other Canadians. Last point. Lets say that I agree that defining the Canadian canon is 
important. Is it more important than what the West has let happen in Africa? More 
important than what North America alone has done to the environment. Is it more 
important than trying to understand the mentality of those policeman raping children in 
the Congo? Is it more important than offering psychiatric assistance to the Bosnian 
children who were shot at for over 3 years? Let the poets worry about those things first - 
the inequities of power. Lets worry more about the canons that are blowing are heads off 
before we worry about those giving us paper cuts. 
Q:   Do you think that poetry is gaining in momentum internationally? If so 
what do you think it can hope to achieve?
A: I don't know. There is so much older poetry that I am trying to get through that I 
find I have little time to search out more current writers. I think I still have another two 
or three months of reading Paul Durcan and Anthony Hecht. Christ I like their work a 
lot. Are they Canadian? (joke) I'd also like another go at Brodsky. What can poetry 
achieve? My opinions on this change daily. I used to despise art for art's sake. I guess 
because of my ties to Ireland and my travels in Eastern Europe, Russia and the Balkans I 
have become far more political or at least more aware. And being a minder for PEN has 
certainly humbled me in many respects. But now . . . the world is in such a horrible state 
that I find I need to read literature that is socially conscious while also reminding me that 
men can be more than butchers. (Tomorrow I will re-write this and on and on . . .) I want 
to try and combine the two and write poetry that entertains while reminding the reader of 
one's duty and accountability. 
Q:   Are you, like, a big T.V. personality in Bosnia?
A: I'll always wonder what would have happened if I had continued with The Black 
Chronicles. The producers asked me to return and continue my part but then they 
screwed up my plane ticket and someone had to take my place so my career in the 
Bosnian version of Law and Order was limited to the first episode. Lord I was a nervous 
wreck when I was acting. But at least I had a hair girl and my own chair. I don't care 
what he said. I said no fucking witnesses  BANG.
Q:   As you publish in Bosnia and Canada do you think that the people (poets, 
readers) of Canada fully understand your work?
A:  I've been published in a few more places than the two you mention Slovenia, 
Mimico, Serbia, Long Branch, Poland the list just goes on and on. If the piece is written 
well then I think most people will find something in iteven if the link to their emotions 
is tenuous at best. Obviously if I write about the parliament building in Sarajevo it would 
help if someone knew what it looked like but the work shouldn't depend on it or rely on 
it. It has to be able to stand on its own without biographical, geographical, political etc. 
information. But I also think the reader should get off his or her arse and do a bit of 
research. You should never be able to understand a poem immediately (try it with 
Mallarme) Immediacy is for those who like to go to poetry readings and laugh out loud at 
bad stand-up comedy. Immediacy is for those who applaud after some wanker compares 
his poem about the lovely eggs benedict he had for brunch in The Beaches to Philip Larkin.
Q:   Some of your earlier writing (Scarring Endymion et al), was sobre 
and serious stuff. Do you think you`ve been able to tap into your funny side, and for 
that matter do you want to? Are you worried, being a naturally funny guy that 
people won`t take you seriously?
A: I do think I have written some funny pieces. When I was living in Oman I used 
to go for long walks in the Wadis dry riverbeds and take photographs of dead goats. I 
wrote a poem about one of them and compared its pecker to a minaret. Isn't that funny?
In another piece about Sarajevo I compared a mountain to a balding businessman 
awaiting the cosmetic dignity of a blonde toupee of fog. Funny? 
 I don't think what I write is 'serious.' I think that is too general a term. When I 
was asked to describe what I wrote at a festival in Slovenia I called it 'Remote 
Literature.'  There are two reasons for this. Firstly, because of the form I have chosen, 
the way I write and the topics I write about I can never see myself being widely read. It 
will always be impossible for me to find even an average sized audience. So there is 
'remote' in that sense. But I also like the word because of its relationship to television. If 
I am watching the news, a movie etc. and grow bored I use the remote to change the 
channel to something more relevant or stimulating. This is also how I write. If I need to 
switch to symbolism or surrealism during a piece that is ultimately a folk narrative I do 
it. I change the channels constantly during my writing. And it is because of this and my 
present inability to control this type of writing that I think some of the humour is lost. In 
the end the reader might think that something I think is very straightforward and amusing 
is dark and apocalyptic. I had this really great idea the other day. How about I write a 
book with only "a"s in the first chapter and "e"s in the second chapter and "i"s in the third 
etc. I think it would be a really neat little vowel book a conversation piece. I hope no 
one has already attempted it. I'm so excited about it I could crush my nuts "nuts" goes 
in the "u" chapter. Funny?
Q:   What sort of pants do you wear round the house? Are you a cutoffs kinda 
guy? A 'Y' Front man or do you go commando when people come by to visit whom 
you don`t like? Of course we can move on...
A:  Well considering it's the summer and I'm living in Saudi Arabia I can honestly 
say I try to never wear pants. I went for a 3 hour walk today - but only after a lovely 
swim in the Persian Gulf washed away my sunblock - so tomorrow and for the next 
week or so I will be wearing layers of burnt, peeling skin. Peel away the evil John, 
always peel it away. 
Q:   Any thoughts on your next book? On securing a Canadian publisher?
A:  My next book is called Forgive The Host, Then Bury Him. It is due for 
publication in Belgrade, November 2006 by the same people who published Controlling 
Mastema - "Kunst und Gott" . I'm going to read from it in Sofia, Bulgaria and Nis, 
Serbia in October, 2006. I won't approach another Canadian publisher until I am living in 
Canada. I appreciate the amount of work publishers have to go through and the financial 
burdens many suffer from. If you are lucky enough to have someone pay to publish your 
book you should feel obligated to promote it is as much as you can and I cannot do that 
from the Middle East. 
Q:   Any interest in writing a novel?
A: No. The book I'm working on now is a collection of prose poems entitled Look, 
The Fish Are Having Nightmares. I have also been working on a few short plays. Has 
the word 'playwright' been ruined yet? 
Q:   Any interest in getting your Irving Layton film on the T.V.?
A: Yes, I'd like to get it shown but I want to add a different ending I think I will
 visit his grave when I'm back in Canada and use some of that footage instead. 
Considering our budget and your state of mind when you were filming it I think it turned 
out well. If I remember correctly you wanted to stab me in Montreal. Why? 
Q:   Any interest in living with another writer again? Or not living with another 
A: No to the writer question. 3 months paid = 3 nights stayed = enough. I'd like to
live with a cellist or a cobbler. (not a joke) 
Q:  How do you see yourself dying? 
A: I've thought about it quite a lot recently. How will it (I) go down? I truly believe 
I will be hit by a car. Now, whether it is the driver's fault or mine I am not sure. Do you 
have a driver's license? I hope I'm wearing my Irish suit, I'd like to fade away in tweed.
don't plead for those willing 
to jump in the river
don't grieve for the drowning 
smitten and scourged
let water rush over 
both goat legs and silver
past camels in car parks 
where men's souls float purged
Written at 7am, July 11th 2006 in Jubail Industrial City, Saudi Arabia
Patrick Woodcock