A Conversation With Chad Norman

Chad Norman enjoys his life beside the Atlantic, having lived a number of years beside the Pacific. His poems have appeared in magazines around the world over the course of 40 years. He currently has 19 books of poems and two children’s books to his credit. 

I was lucky enough to speak to Chad about life as a poet and his experiences in the publishing industry. I learned about ambition, perseverance, and how to find inspiration in the natural world. Chad Norman’s success is proof that sometimes you need to follow Robert Frost’s advice and take “the road less traveled by” in order to achieve your dreams, no matter what others think.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work!

I am now nearly 64, my first poem was published when I was 24. It has been wonderful to be able to keep sending work out since then. I enjoy seeing my work in journals, magazines, and anthologies still. I also commune with a garden each year, as well as 7 crow families. At the moment, I am busy touring with a new book, A Matter of Inclusion.


You’ve been writing, publishing, touring, and bringing out books for forty years! Your work can be found in an impressive amount of literary magazines around the world. As an author, you’ve won literary awards and published multiple books. If you could go back in time and give your past self any advice before you sent out your very first piece, what would you say? Any advice?

Try to avoid being married more than once. Also, avoid anyone who can’t return a favor. Finally, welcome all the teachings the Wild has to offer.


Who are your biggest inspirations?

At the moment, a chipmunk, seven families of crows, and the sky.


Rejection is an inevitable part of success as a writer. What have you learned from the submissions process?

Know where you’re sending your work. Most magazines/journals have an About link; read it. Many fine magazines/journals provide direct emails. When new work is ready, send it out… be not afraid.


How do you know when your work is ready to send out?

That’s an easy one, it tells me. And that voice comes out of editing, and being in no rush to publish.


You’ve found a career as a poet outside of academia. How has this shaped your experiences in the publishing world?

No, not a career, a life. I am blessed not being an academic, however here in Canada it has at times worked against me, because the scene is so dominated by them. However, not being on that path has led me to places no academic gets to, such as the front-door of a stranger trying to sell a book. All in all, it has shaped my experiences, as you say, in a unique and generously free way.


Before you submit your work, what do you look for in a literary magazine, contest, or independent press? What research do you typically do?

In literary magazines, I seek anything other than what appears to be more dominance of academic wants and leanings. As for presses, that depends on the manuscript, because I don’t write the same one over and over. Research is fairly the same each time, few are different from each other, unless one goes out of Canada.


What’s been the best part of your journey as an artist so far?

Traveling to Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. And, any tours I have done here in Canada. Also, helping out other poets and artists over the years through the reading series, festival, and events I arrange.


Why do you write poetry?

To stay sane. Really, there is no why. I must honor when the words are sent.


Where do you see yourself in the future?

Lunenburg, N.S. Perhaps, receiving a grant I believe I am owed, and able to write my book, The Charity of Clean Water.


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