The Calgary Journal's interview with Tyler B. Perry about Belly Full of Rocks

By Colin Macgillivray

You might not think The Silence of the Lambs and Little Red Riding Hood have much in common, but as Calgary poet Tyler B. Perry sees it, the works are indeed very similar. He explains that this is because the stories share many of the same sinister undertones. Perry, a high school english teacher at Bishop Grandin who moonlights as a poet, explores this dark and sadistic side of children’s fairy tales in his latest book, Belly Full of Rocks.

Father to a nine and seven-year-old Perry, 36, grew up listening to and reading the countless Grimm’s fairy tales that were littered throughout his father’s bookshelf. Revisiting those stories he once adored as a child as an adult with his own children, he was fascinated by the simplicity of the tales — a feature he found a hidden complexity in.

“You see these stories 20 years later, and you’ve lived so much more and you’ve lost some of your naivety, and you realize things maybe aren’t quite as simple as they came across to you as a kid, “ Perry explains, “Maybe the Wolf isn’t entirely evil? Maybe Red Riding Hood has her own sadistic side? Maybe that third pig didn’t have to treat the wolf so cruelly?”

Enthralled by the dark and iniquitous nature of literature since he was a high school student, Perry cites Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie as one of his major influences, among other contemporary poets.

“[There’s] something about what it said about the way we live our lives and the purpose for art... and I always feel like literature has been a way for me to interpret the world, and my own life,” says Perry.

Dark and distorted literature continued to incite Perry’s imagination, discovering the infamous Charles Bukowski while sitting in coffee shops and hearing the song "Bukowski" by alternative-rock band Modest Mouse.

“It was poetry I had never seen before,” he recalls, “There was no regular form to it, no rhyme pattern. It was just free verse poetry, and it just seemed that he wrote the way he wanted to. [Bukowski] broke free from any conventions that other poets had. I wanted to do that.”

Read more in the The Calgary Journal.

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