BWS 12.07.17: Terence A. Go


Terence A. Go has been dating-app free for two months and counting. A first-gen, Indonesian-Canadian spoken word artist, he has read at various venues across the city; most recently, he has featured at Naked Heart – An LGBTQ Festival of Words (2016) and Poetic Justice: A Proud Reading Series (2015, 2016) at Glad Day, and Fleurus 2 at Hart House (2013). Terence’s work has been published in Misunderstandings Magazine and Zhush Redux (2012), and he has released several collections, UNgh (2007) among them. He has facilitated OUTwrites since 2003.

Ahead of his July 12 Brockton Writers appearance, Terence visits the blog this week for an interview, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his first book’s publication!

BWS: You recorded many of the poems in your first collection and provided those recordings for this interview, so that’s how this interviewer first experienced them: aloud. It made me think about first impressions of a poem, and how they might differ when heard as opposed to being read on the page; when you write, do you think more about someone hearing the poem than someone reading it, or vice versa, or is it a combination…?

Terence: Music has always been a part of my life. Whether it be my classical training on the piano, or playing clarinet and bassoon in a high school band, or just listening to baroque and Hip-hop/R&B music growing up, I have always been attracted to the rhythms and cadences of language.

When I compose a piece, the speaker is definitely one who tells his tale aloud. That said, I am also an admirer of great architecture, and whether consciously or not, I often integrate some symmetry to my pieces in print.

BWS: The sound of the poems does come to life, and a sonic theme even seemed to emerge in a couple of them: you actually sing “Wheels on the Bus” before the sexually charged nature of the transit ride becomes apparent in “Frottage Cheese”, and in the “All in the Bawdy” series and “Commuter II” some child-like rhythms come through as well. Do you see a kind of simplistic/child-like/intuitive element as a key part of your poetry? Or of poetry in general?

Terence: I learned once that the appeal for the “sing-song” quality of children’s nursery rhymes derives in part from the same soothing heartbeat rhythms that we heard in the womb, the same way a child falls asleep to the “white noise” created by a car ride. I see the musical works of Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, and the sound of Diggable Planets partly as an extension of this aesthetic. I think most poetry has an inherent rhythm whether it is the structured meter of a sonnet or the departure from that in free verse. Much like the theme and variations of a Bach piece, I enjoy establishing a rhythm or line and playing with it, through sound and sense.

BWS: It’s been 10 years since you published your first collection. Can you believe it? How do you remember the experience now? Do you think about the work a lot?

Terence: Much to the consternation of nosy friends and family, I would rather speak of how old I feel rather than what my driver’s licence reveals. Haha. Ha. Hmm. My first collection was the result of a Creative Writing class at the University of Toronto and a group of poets who performed at Hart House and created an anthology for the evening. As I am sure is the case with many authors, I sort of cringe thinking of some of the dramatic interpretations I performed in the past (socks on my hands in a re-enactment, a broomstick with my mother’s image), but I enjoyed its free-spirited quality. I like to think that my work has matured both in subject matter (coming out, dealing with familial homophobia) and delivery, but I still find it amusing to recount the foibles of gay single life through humour.

BWS: What are you working on now?

Terence: Currently, I’m trying to compile a new collection and do more regular readings. I just finished a trip to Europe, the Middle East, Indonesia, and Australia, so I’m working on a collection that complements a selection of those photos from the obscene horde of pics sitting in my cloud drive. I am interested in researching more about Indonesian history and culture as it intersects with my own identity as a queer, first-generation Indonesian-Canadian, so I look forward to completing that project. Overall, travel, reading, and writing more is always the ideal goal.

BWS: Looking forward to hearing more about it on July 12, Terence, thanks!

Terence A. Go visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 (Queer Night!) in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside jes sachse, Ron Schafrick, Kai Cheng Thom and a special guest talk, “Five Things You Should Know Before You Do Anything About Your Children’s Book Idea”, by S. Bear Bergman!


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