Rob Taylor talks poetry with the Vancouver Book Club


About 30 poetry-loving people joined the Vancouver Book Club and Rob Taylor at the Waldorf Hotel this past Sunday for an afternoon of conversation about the Vancouver Book Club’s spring selection, The Other Side of Ourselves.

Images from the TOSOO poetry-inspired photo contest served as a backdrop for the event as Rob read poems from The Other Side of Ourselves, which is now in its second printing.

“Shark Chaser” brought forward an unusual tale about history and modern poetry; “The Slave Castle of Elmina” referenced back to the time Rob spent in Ghana. Rob’s landlord, who makes a cameo in the poem “Errant”, was at the Waldorf to hear the poem read aloud for the group.

“The love poems, to me, are what hold the book together,” Rob said as he read a final poem “The Same Thing.”

Rob even had a group member read one of his poems aloud and we learned that the final line of “Early Rain” holds the answer to the question, “Why did you title the book The Other Side of Ourselves?”

“I like to hear other voices read a poem,” Rob said. “It unlocks new things for me.”

A discussion about creating accessible work – such that “any reader will get a meaning of the poem on a first reading,” –  the theme of inspiration, and the idea of a “spirit-like” connection between a poem and its readers all provided insight into Rob’s approach to poetry.

“What makes a poem successful is mysterious,” Rob said as the group discussed how the interpretations and meanings people bring to poems can be things the author never considered.

Rob shared thoughts on what led him to poetry, including the influence of his father and a desire to work with history and keep stories alive. He also talked about how challenging it can be to communicate emotions, stories and ideas in a simple way and he referred a couple of times to “riding on the edge of cliché” as the place he tries to push himself to.

(left to right) VBC host Liam Ford, photo contest winner David Jez, and Rob Taylor. Photos by Erica Mattson

At the end of the event David Jez was announced as the photo contest winner for his black and white landscape image, which was paired with Rob’s poem “The Horse Grazes.” Thanks to everyone who participated in the photo contest, and congratulations to David, who won a coveted first edition of The Other Side of Ourselves as well as a copy of Anakana Schofield’s new book Malarky, which is was revealed as the VBC’s Summer Selection. Subscribe to our mailing list and stay tuned for updates on the date and venue.

Special thanks to the Waldorf Hotel and Cormorant Books for supporting this event, and to Rob Taylor and all the participants for an inspiring afternoon of poetry and conversation.