Saturday, 21 May 2022

Benjamin Niespodziany : part one

Benjamin Niespodziany's writing has appeared in FENCE, Sporklet, Fairy Tale Review, Puerto del Sol, and others. Along with being featured in the Wigleaf Top 50, his writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Microfiction. His debut chapbook, The Northerners, was released at the end of 2021 through above/ground press. More can be found at neonpajamas.com.

Photo credit: Michael Salisbury

What are you working on?

I'm fine-tuning a few manuscripts that were written over the last few years. One is a collection of domestic poems, one is a collection of one-act plays, and one is a woodland novella told through linked prose poems. While those are 99% done, I have a few other ideas in the middle/early stages, including an ekphrastic manuscript, a manuscript on film, and a tiny collection of nursery rhymes. 

Jean Van Loon : part three

What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms can't?

I'm not sure that other forms can't achieve this, but I think poetry does it most consistently: combine brevity with complexity. I marvel at how an accomplished poet can suggest so much with a few words along with creative use of white space to suggest such things as the passage of time, another voice, another angle of view. A good poem also, more deftly than other forms, penetrates to the emotional heart of a subject.

Friday, 20 May 2022

Tariq Malik : part one

Pakistan-born, Vancouver-based BIPOC author Tariq Malik works across poetry, fiction, and art to distill immersive, compelling, and original narratives. His working English is a borrowed tongue inflected with his inherited languages of Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi. He writes intensely in response to the world in flux around him and from his place in its shadows. He came reluctantly late to these shores, having had to first survive three wars, two migrations, and two decades of slaving in the Kuwaiti desert. 

Author: Rainsongs of Kotli and Chanting Denied Shores. Debut poetry collection Exit Wounds to be published by Caitlin Press on 16 September 2022.

What are you working on?

My new poetry is evolving under the working title of Kotli Petrichor. It is based on the microcosm of my 1000 year-old ancestral Punjabi hometown of Kotli, and reflects on the lives of its inhabitants as they encounter global subjects of displacement, social inequality, injustice, and social exploitation. 

Catrice Greer : part three

What poets changed the way you thought about writing? 

Toni Morrison “Honey and Rue” song cycle. — I always knew poetry was music to a degree. But Morrison taught me that there are no limits and no boxes for me as a creative woman. She led by example. 

TS Eliot — long form stories can be interesting and dense, but on target.

Tracey Chapman - masterful storytelling via her lyrics

Wislawa Symborska - Her skill, her mix of humor and realism.
Andrew Marvel - Be unconventional and do it your way. 

Sonia Sanchez - she was my introduction to spoken word after many years of studying and writing traditional poetry.  I learned that using my voice in interesting ways on the page and in performance was possible and freeing— My poem MommaMendsUs is a spoken word performance poem.  

June Jordan - said I can be powerful. Her poetry taught me to speak of social issues with personal power.

Maya Angelou’s work -  Taught me that  I can empower myself and others with dignity

Sitkala- Sa’s work taught me lyricism and spirituality can exist comfortably in the work

Jamaica Kincaid’s poem “Girl”. Taught me that there was room to speak of my Caribbean cultural influences and familial relationships via that cultural reference and lens. I learned that vernacular and identity had a place in poetry. I learned how to take up space on the page and let the work exist as it needs to speak intuitively. 

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Nicholas Ruddock : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

When, after multiple edits, I can read it aloud and still like it, or love it. The ending loops back to the start, like a coiled snake. Most of my poems are prose poems, breathless, without periods or semicolons, only with commas, so that helps also, when the writer and reader need to breathe, it’s over.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Matt Vekakis : part four

Why is poetry important?

Poetry is an ancient, sacred craft—one of the oldest forms of written expression. I think of poetry like a stream. This stream began thousands of years before me, and will continue for thousands of years after me. But poets of all eras are connected synapses, building on our predecessors, and moving our collective understandings of what it is to be human, forward. 

Anna Lee-Popham : part one

Anna Lee-Popham is a poet, writer, and editor living in Toronto. She is an MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph, and a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University and University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Education Creative Writing Certificate, where she was a recipient of the Janice Colbert Poetry Award. Her recent writing received second prize in PRISM international’s Pacific Poetry Prize, was shortlisted for The Fiddlehead Creative Nonfiction Contest; and has been published in Riddle Fence, Canthius, and Autostraddle. Anna co-hosts the Emerging Writers Reading Series and is a contributing editor at Arc Poetry Magazine.

What are you working on?

I am working on a collection of poetry, titled Empires of the Everyday, that looks at how imperialism is ever present and often operates invisibly in the contemporary quotidian. The “I” of the poems is the voice of a piece of AI machine technology that is fed news and spits out text exposing the history and ongoing presence of colonialism and state violence.