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This interview is taken from PN Review 189, Volume 36 Number 1, September - October 2009.

In Conversation with Norm Sibum Evan Jones

Norm Sibum was born in Oberammergau, Germany, in 1947, grew up in Alaska, Missouri, Utah and Washington, and moved to Vancouver, Canada, in 1968. He has published poetry with presses in the UK and Canada, the most recent of which are The Pangborn Defence (Biblioasis, 2008) and Smoke and Lilacs (Carcanet, 2009). His Girls and Handsome Dogs (Porcupine’s Quill, 2002) won the Quebec Writer’s Federation A.M. Klein Award for Poetry. He lives in Montreal.

This interview was conducted via e-mail between 26 November 2008 and 20 January 2009.

EVAN JONES: You’re the least biographical of poets, so perhaps we could start with some biography. You were born in Germany?

NORM SIBUM: My descent is one of those complicated wartime stories, but both my parents were German-born, my father a peasant, my mother bourgeoise Berlin. I don’t write about it because it’s been done to death by scads of writers. Although I’m nearly as much European as I am an American (plus being a Canuck as well), I don’t feel that comfortable in Europe until I get over the Alps and into Italy. For the sake of protective camouflage I have gone through life posing as a barbarian. It has been one of my more realised fantasies, sweeping into Rome on the train as a Visigoth.

I was wondering, if it’s not too personal, about your decision to come to Canada.

Vietnam. It was everything it ...

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