Writers' Rooms: Matt Rader

Matt Rader

(c) Rader

I’ve moved more times than I care to remember in the twelve years since I left my parents’ home on Vancouver Island. Recently—as in last week—I returned to Vancouver with my wife and daughter from two years in Eugene, Oregon. The desk I’d used for the last eight years did not survive the trip. This was less a problem for my writing habits than for my habit of producing piles of random paper which all week have been shunted from my kitchen table to my bookshelves and back again as I sort out what piece of existing furniture will step up to fulfill the role of junk station in my new home.

Currently, I have my laptop, my printer, my Oxford Concise English Dictionary, Oxford English Thesaurus, a notebook, a small lamp, several pens, and yes, some scrap-paper on a birch coloured card-table I am using as a desk. This small station occupies the north-east corner of our living-room. Next to the table I have a filing cabinet I’ve never used, a printer, and the Korean Fender I’ve been abusing since my sixteenth birthday. To the right of where I sit and just behind me, two decent sized energy-star windows look out on the quiet residential east Vancouver street I now call my own.

But none of this is particularly important when it comes to writing. I like to have a window nearby, sure, but it’s not necessary. Perhaps more necessary are the dictionary and thesaurus, but even these I could do without in a pinch. The guitar? Not so important to the writing I suppose, but a critical relief valve for those moments of intellectual fatigue and frustration. All of this is to say that my writing habits have less to do with any particular room, or even any particular arrangement, than the idiosyncrasies of my personality and body. I need to be able to get up and pace, to crouch upon my chair like some kind of weak-backed gargoyle, to let my legs unwittingly tremor. Though the clock some times disagrees with me, I cannot sit still for long. It’s almost as if the more my mind retreats into a composition the more my body is compelled to move. In extreme moments even my body has been forced to retreat and I will find myself curled up under a blanket in a dark room trying to collect myself. Please repeat this to no one.

The author of two books of poems, Miraculous Hours (2005) and Living Things (2008), Matt Rader's poems, stories, and non-fiction have appeared in journals and anthologies across North America, Australia, and Europe and have been nominated for numerous awards including the Gerald Lampert Award, the Journey Prize, and two Pushcart Prizes.