Clarise Foster: The introductory quotes to the book and epigraphs to several of the pieces in this collection are excerpts of poems: Alden Nolen, Patrick Friesen, W.H. Auden, Catherine Hunter. Clearly poetry has a substantial impact on your song writing — when did you become interested in poetry and how does it shape your creative process?
John K. Samson: Sure, I became interested in poetry at the exact same time as I became interested in music; at a very young age, I think, it was the Lutheran liturgy. I grew up in a Lutheran church, and the liturgy — it was a fairly conservative Lutheran church, traditional — the service is sort of half sung and half spoken, and words are kind of crammed into musical phrases that don’t quite work. And I think that’s stuck with me my entire life, and that my song writing can be traced back to that in a way. And the talk-singing thing is something that I’m accused of often and it’s just a fact, I kind of talk-sing. [Laughs.] I think that that’s my genre. So I think the marriage of words and music was there at the beginning, and then so certainly the language of religion was the primary introduction for me. And then I think I started reading poetry in my teens, and was consumed by it. I adored it. And I was politicized in my teens as well, so the language of politics crept in there; political poets and songwriters certainly were a really important part of my process. And then, discovering poets that spoke in a voice that I recognized, so people like Catherine Hunter and Patrick Friesen and people from here. That was a huge door for me, to recognize that Winnipeg was a place that had its own vernacular and its own way of speaking and that I recognized it and it made me feel complete and excited about trying to interpret the world. I think poetry is still the art form that I reach for first. Fundamentally, it’s just a great comfort; I find it very comforting in the best sense of that word.