EVENT Issue 48/1 Contributor Spotlight: Hannah Macready Interviews Cassidy McFadzean

Cassidy McFadzean was born in Regina, graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and currently lives in Toronto. She is the author of Hacker Packer (McClelland & Stewart 2015), which won two Saskatchewan Book Awards and was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial AwardHer poems have appeared in BOAAT, EVENT, The Fiddlehead, PRISM international, and The Best Canadian Poetry 2016and have been shortlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize and The Walrus Poetry Prize. Her second book is Drolleries (M&S 2019).

Cassidy McFadzean has two poems published in EVENT 48/1: “The Way” and “Study of a Torso.

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Hannah Macready: You have two poems published in this issue of EVENT. How do you go about choosing what kind of work to send to certain publications? Is there a list of magazines that you hope to see your work in, or is it more of a cast-the-line-and-hold-your-breath kind of test?

Cassidy McFadzean: I send to magazines that publish poems that excite me, primarily in terms of voice or form, and I keep note of magazines that publish a lot of emerging poets and new writers. I do keep a list of magazines I’d love to appear in and I’ve been sending to EVENT for years, so I’m thrilled that these poems were selected for this issue.

HM: Your first poem in this issue is entitled “The Way,” and it speaks of a character attempting to live their life naturally but finding themselves bogged down by the inhumanity of reality. I find as women, there is a sort of constant alertness that is required to keep ourselves safe. As your character experiences, a relaxing walk in the park holds numerous opportunities for violence and fear. Of course, conflict is necessary for story, but what price does the artist pay for constantly revisiting this kind of pain?

CM: This poem is very much about scanning the environment for threats, an experience many women can relate to and that was familiar to me from a young age. For many, public spaces can feel hostile, if not dangerous, and I wanted to explore the effect this has on our experiences of the world and our bodies. I think that writing about trauma can be draining, but it can also be validating and empowering and I try to make sure I’m in a good headspace before approaching difficult subject matter.

HM: In your second poem, “Study of a Torso,” the narrator speaks about the way violent news stories can infiltrate our lives. The character suffers visions of gore and terror as they fulfill daily routines, constantly reminded that the world is unsafe and full of cruel horror. News media and social platforms give us constant updates of tragedy and I think it becomes almost necessary to normalize the news in order to absorb it. How do you think we can all draw a line between being informed but not consumed by media? How do you do this personally?

CM: Every day presents another horror, and it’s hard to not feel the effects of this on our physical and mental wellbeing. Most days I do a pretty bad job of finding any sort of balance, and the speaker of the poem certainly fails at this. One thing I do find useful is taking breaks from social media to read and reflect. I remind myself I don’t need to respond to everything immediately, if at all. As a white cis-gendered woman, it is often more important to take a step back and listen.

HM: Your book of poetry, “Drolleries,” came out this year with McClelland and Stewart. The book mixes fantastical themes with individualized struggles. Can you tell us a bit about curating this book, and what your self-editing process looked like in choosing the contents?

CM: When I’m first working on a project, I tend to focus on individual poems rather than themes, and articulating what I might be doing too early in the process always seems to suck the inertia out of a project. While threads of transformation, mythology, and violence do appear throughout the book, I was only able to identify these in the final stages of editing. It is important to me to maintain a sense of curiosity as I write, and to allow myself to meander down detours and dead-ends. I want to stay open to those moments of mystery, discovery, and surprise that made me fall in love with poetry in the first place.

HM: Thank you so much for sending us this wonderful work, Cassidy. My last question is geared towards all the aspiring writers that may want to follow your career path. You have a long list of impressive publications and acknowledgments; do you have any tips for emerging writers who are just beginning to navigate the publishing world?

CM: Thanks so much! I would encourage emerging writers to read as widely as possible with an emphasis on magazines that are supportive of new voices such as CV2, which was the first place my poems appeared, and Arc, which has an excellent poetry mentorship program, just to name a couple. I find that themed calls for submissions can be great opportunities to have your work read closely. It’s also helpful to seek out feedback on your writing, whether through mentorship programs, workshops, or exchanging your work with a trusted friend.

Hannah Macready lives in Vancouver, BC.