B.R. Houtman discusses experience, writing, and his debut novel
B.R. Houtman’s Verses from Montréal is for the lovers, the wanderers and all those in between. Set to the backdrop of his first year in Montreal, Houtman explores the city and recounts his experiences through a fresh set of eyes. Houtman decided to spend some time away from his home in Victoria B.C., where he soon fell in love with Montreal and all it had to offer. Although he had been writing poetry prior to moving, his new surroundings inspired him to devote more time to honing his skill. The writer’s debut poetry compilation captures what it means to be part of something more and how those in the city celebrate life in all its most beautiful and complicated states. Split into four sections, the book has a chapter dedicated to each season, offering something for everyone.
“I will say that with the whole seasonal theme and the structure, the premise going into it was that every season is a stage from the human life,” explains Houtman. “At the beginning, it’s a lot of poems about falling in love and these new experiences when I was getting to Montreal.”
Through each section, readers are awarded a glimpse into the author’s ruminations as he falls in sync with the bustle of the city. Although many poems in the book are dedicated to the city’s eccentricities, Houtman sheds light on the intricate moments that make up each of our lives.
While numerous poems were scrawled down during rides on the metro and other outings, it took the author about four months to compile his work and another four to prepare it for publishing. Although the process was arduous at times, the most challenging part for Houtman came after the book had been released.
“Poetry has always been a release and something that is very personal, so I think something that I didn’t expect to be so challenging was making the decision to share it,” he says. “It’s very revealing and you’re making yourself very vulnerable, so that took me a while to get over.”
While every writer has a unique routine, Houtman maintains an allotted time every day to write. “I’m pretty regimented in the sense that I sit down, and I have my times, maybe a few hours in a day,” he says. “I think it has been very fruitful to me, but it may not be how others approach it.”
When his book was finally released back in June, Houtman was pleased to find that readers were connecting to his words on a personal level.
“I think the biggest thing for me is really trying to be true to yourself and recognizing that these things that feel very individual to you are more universal human experiences,” says Houtman. “I think what I’ve realized through this process is if you stay true to representing your own thoughts, you end up being able to connect with people who have those same thoughts in such an intimate way.”
Those looking to purchase a copy of Verses from Montréal can buy directly from Houtman’s website or can visit Librairie St-Henri, Drawn & Quarterly, État de Style, The Word and Librairie l’Échange.
Photos courtesy of B.R. Houtman