PROFile - Barry Pomeroy

Contract faculty member in the English department

Photo by Alana Trachenko

The University of Winnipeg’s (U of W) Barry Pomeroy manages to be a prolific writer, world traveller and a favourite instructor in the English department, but he will tell you he’s not really a “busy guy.”

Pomeroy started teaching at the U of W in 2001 before leaving for a few years to travel and teach in the US. Since 2004, he’s held a fairly regular contract position teaching English literature. He currently teaches two classes at the U of W and two at the University of Manitoba, where he gets a chance to work with international students.

“The students are cool,” Pomeroy says. “You think of university students who are largely from Manitoba, and there’s a little bit of a sense with the 18- or 19-year-olds (that) you can’t express wonder or awe because ‘we’re too cool for school.’

“My foreign students have no one looking over their shoulders, and they are encountering bizarre things.”

Regardless, teaching is one of those things that Pomeroy has a passion for. Travelling is also high on the list.

“I like strangeness and difference, being in a country and something happens and you have no idea why that happened, and you ask a local person, and they can’t really describe what it means,” he says. 

He recalls a South Asian restaurant that inexplicably charged him more – and treated him gradually worse – each day he visited. 

“To this day, I can’t figure it out,” Pomeroy says. 

When he’s not abroad, the writer heads back to New Brunswick, his home province, to a cabin he built for himself in the middle of the woods. It’s where he escapes the distraction of his phone and the internet and works on his projects. This past year, he managed to complete five books, including two novels and a how-to on writing essays.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?: The Windup Girl. It’s a fictional post-apocalyptic text that’s amazing. It’s set in Thailand, and I know a bit of Thai culture … and I’m amazed how much the author knows.

What is something you have learned from your students?: They often see all kinds of things I don’t see. There are 50 or 60 in a class, and the chances of me being the smartest in the class are pretty slim. I just have more knowledge in a particular area.

What is the country you would encourage everyone to visit?: The country I’ve liked the best is Thailand, but when you travel there, it spoils you for the rest of the countries, because the people are amazing.

Published in Volume 71, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 23, 2017)

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