“Around the time that I was coming out, my university invited Shane Rhodes to visit our school and read from his debut collection of poetry, The Wireless Room. I was mesmerized by his work, and it opened up a whole new vista of possibilities for me. Here was poetry written by a young Canadian, and a queer man, and it was unlike any poetry I had read before. It was respected by the very professors who were teaching me the canon in my classes. And he had gone to university in the same province (New Brunswick), only a few towns away.
“Best of all, it inspired me to start writing, something I hadn’t done for many years. I started writing poems in a little notebook, and submitted a portfolio to the one creative writing class offered. Also, I remember spending hours in the basement of the library, combing the shelves for the literary journals that had published his work. This was my introduction to many young writers, and more generally to publishing in Canada: to the journals where so many of us get our start, to chapbooks, to independent presses across the country. As the years passed, I continued to be a fan of Shane Rhodes’s work: Holding Pattern, The Bindery, and Err. Though I moved away from writing poetry myself for a time, it remains my first love.”
Matthew J. Trafford is the author of The Divinity Gene: Stories, and has had work anthologized in Darwin’s Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow and Best Gay Stories 2012.