Iqaluit-based writer Patrick Woodcock hopes his new book of poetry is good enough that it warrants multiple reads.
“I worked on it for a long time and there’s a lot of material hidden within each piece,” he said. “I think as a work of literature, it’s something that can be re-read, which is what I want. I would never want to write something that you read once and go ‘oh, I get it,’ and that’s it. I would see that as a failure.”
The new book, titled Farhang: Book 1, was released across Canada on Sept. 5. Farhang is the Kurdish word for dictionary, and also the name of the book’s protagonist.
The first instalment of a three-part series, it is a tribute to the people and places Woodcock has seen over the course of three decades working as a writer, volunteer and teacher in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, South America, and the Canadian North.
“I’m inspired by what I see and the people that I meet,” he said.
“Really, the whole point of it is to respect the people and places that have shown me so much respect as well.”
Farhang: Book 1 was written over a period of roughly six years. It took longer than Woodcock intended, but he was hindered by a number of factors, including the challenges of moving every few years, and the rigorous demands of the jobs and volunteer positions he’s held in the places he has lived.
He finally finished writing the project when he was based in Paulatuk, a small community in the Northwest territories, and the last place he lived before moving to Iqaluit a little less than two years ago.
Since moving to Iqaluit, Woodcock has been hard at work at the next instalment of the Farhang series. While part one was inspired by the people the author has encountered on his travels, part two will focus exclusively on natural elements—and he is already drawing inspiration from the things he sees around town.
“I walk everywhere, generally, even when it’s really cold,” he said. “There’s so much to see here if you just walk and take your time.
“A lot of time when I walk into town, I take the Apex trail,” he added. “The other day I noticed that there was a fishing boat going out, and it was sort of bobbing on the waves to the exact same beat as my walking. It had the same kind of rhythm. I won’t be writing in the next book about the fisherman, exactly, but I will be writing about the boat and the bobbing and the footsteps and the trail. I’m not sure where I’m taking it yet, but I immediately knew I was going to write about it.”
Woodcock is hoping to finish writing Farhang: Book 2 in Iqaluit, ideally by August of 2024. The book is targeted for release in 2025.
As he works on the project, drawing inspiration from the natural world around him, he will continue to promote Book 1, which is already receiving positive reviews.
“I’m really proud of the end result,” he said. “I think the project worked really, really well, and I’m extremely proud of it.”