Friday 31 May 2019

Lennart Lundh : part three

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began? 

I started writing poetry in the early 1960s, so, yeah. Of course. Right along with my short fictions. What I think poetry can and should do has changed. My subject matter has changed, my voice and craftsmanship have changed. As have my audiences. In part, to answer the unspoken question of influences, because every author, good or bad, of every poem and story I've read since I got my first library card in 1954 has taught me something about how to write. In part because how the world expresses itself and what it speaks about has changed.

Valerie Wallace : part four

How important is music to your poetry?

I want each of my poems to have the music they need to advance their meaning and emotion, and to be a pleasure to the ear. From a young age through my early twenties, I played piano and cello, and creating music on its own is such a distinct and difficult endeavor that it took me awhile to accept and really understand how poetry only truly works on the page when it can be lively in the ear.

Hasan Namir : part five

How do you know when a poem is finished? 

I usually stop the poem when it ends on a word or a verse that makes me say “Aha.” Then, when I revisit the poem, re-read it a few times, take some time off and come back to it again, I realize that it actually needs to end on another stanza or verse, so then I start to make changes based on my new reading of the poem. To reiterate, sometimes you know when it ends as you’re writing the poem. Other times, through revisiting the poem, then you know when it ends.

Thursday 30 May 2019

Kara Petrovic : part five

How does a poem begin?

A poem begins by inviting its reader (or listener) to embark on a journey. A poem begins by setting the scene of the universe in which it exists. A poet, on the other hand, begins by reaching into their heart and squeezing, until something worthwhile pours out.

Jessica Mehta : part one

Jessica Mehta is a multi-award-winning poet and author of over one dozen books. She’s currently a poetry editor at Bending Genres Literary Review, Airlie Press, and the peer-reviewed Exclamat!on journal. During 2018-19, she was a fellow at Halcyon Arts Lab in Washington DC where she curated an anthology of poetry by incarcerated indigenous women and created “Red/Act,” a pop-up virtual reality poetry experience using proprietary software. As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and native Oregonian, place and personal ancestry inform much of Jessica’s creative work.

Jessica’s novel The Wrong Kind of Indian won gold at the 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs). Jessica has also received numerous visiting fellowships in recent years, including the Everett Helm Visiting Fellowship at the Lilly Library at Indiana University at Bloomington and the Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowship at The British Library. Visual representations of her work have been featured at galleries and exhibitions around the world including IA&A Hillyer in Washington DC and The Emergency Gallery in Sweden. Jessica is a popular speaker and panelist, featured recently at events like the US State Department’s National Poetry Month event, “Poets as Cultural Emissaries: A Conversation with Women Writers,” as well as the “Women’s Transatlantic Prison Activism Since 1960” symposium at Oxford University.” Visit to learn more.

What are you working on?

I have four books releasing in 2019, one in 2020, and am currently completing the seventh month of a nine-month fellowship at Halcyon Arts Lab in Washington DC where I’m curating an anthology by incarcerated indigenous women. I also just finished up a manuscript and am working on my PhD in poetry.

Bobbi Lurie : part four

How do you know when a poem is finished?

A poem is finished when another word would ruin it or a poem is finished when you can’t look at it any longer or a poem is finished because it feels “right” or it’s finished because it’s late at night and you want it all to end.

Or a poem is never finished. Once it’s published one still edits it in one’s mind. Last week I withdrew a just-published poem. I realized it wasn’t finished/ that maybe I’d never finish it. So I’d say a poem is never finished. The poet is finished. That’s why I’m finally sending this interview in to you after all these weeks/months. I’m done.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Ariel Dawn : part four

How do you know when a poem is finished?

After leaving the poem in the dark for a month, I’ll read it as a spell to open a gate to another dimension. If it won’t open I will revise and hide away for another week or month and so on until I’m inside and nothing is altered.

Dean Rader : part one

Dean Rader’s debut collection of poems, Works & Days, won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize and Landscape Portrait Figure Form (2014) was named by The Barnes & Noble Review as a Best Poetry Book. Three books appeared in 2017: Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon), Suture, collaborative poems written with Simone Muench (Black Lawrence Press); and Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence, edited with Brian Clements & Alexandra Teague (Beacon). Most recently, he co-edited They Said: Contemporary Collaborative Writing and Native Voices: Poems, Craft, and Conversations. Dean writes regularly for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post, BOMB, and The Kenyon Review. He is a professor at the University of San Francisco and a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry.

What are you working on?

Over the last two years, my poems seem to be grouping themselves in ways neither expected nor intentional. On one hand, I am writing poems I think of as largely political that take on controversial issues such as gun violence, race, and even climate change. A poem like “History,” which was published in the Kenyon Review Online not long after the Charlottesville riots, is a good example of this. Here, I’m looking both forward and backward; somewhere in the middle is my young son, who I seem always to be talking to about past and present transgressions.

On the complete other end of the spectrum is a relatively new poetic obsession—Cy Twombly. I have been writing short, almost minimalist poems in response to specific Twombly pieces. I am particularly attracted to his drawings and to the social and semiotic distinctions between drawing and writing. What does it mean to draw as opposed to write? What does it mean to make a mark on a canvas? Or a page? To paint a poem? To draw the letter e?

Somewhere between these two modes is another unexpected series—elegies for my late father who died in December of 2017. Even though he had not been well for most of the year, his death was sudden and, by all accounts, unexpected. I wrote about his illness for the first time in 2017. Bizarrely, he began dialysis the day of the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in England. Somehow public and private tragedies, local and global mourning, merged in the poem “Elegy Pantoum,” in which big questions seem to loop back on themselves.

So, what do these three interests have in common?

That is what I want to find out.

Somewhere is a through-line. Somehow, the Venn diagram of these concerns overlap and even inform the other. In some way, the endeavors of art in the face of loss spool shared threads. Many scholars and art critics have claimed Twombly’s drawings and paintings are elegies. Maybe my Twombly poems are elegies for our country; maybe the poems about the decline of our country are really elegies for my father; maybe the poems about my father are actually interventions on the ability of art to articulate anything at all.

Wow, that was a long answer. I am also working on an essay about a triple murder twenty years ago in India. I knew the victims and was with them not long before they died. It is, as you might imagine, very difficult to write.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Travis Sharp : part five

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

Athena Farrokhzad, White Blight.
Julia Madsen, The Boneyard, The Birth Manual, A Burial: Investigations into the Heartland.
Shira Dentz, how do i net thee.
Timothy Yu, 100 Chinese Silences.
Muriel Rukeyser, US 1.
Ronaldo Wilson, Farther Traveler.
M. NourbeSe Philip, She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks.
Ed Roberson, City Eclogue.
Jill Magi, Threads.
William Carlos Williams, Spring and All.
Rachel Zolf, Neighbor Procedure.
Dale Smith, Sons.
Jessica Bozek, The Tales.
Julie Carr, Real Life: An Installation.
Steven Zultanski, Agony.
Cassandra Troyan, Kill Manual.

My undergraduates and I this semester are reading many selections. Eileen Myles. Martín Espada. Morgan Parker. CAConrad. Mary Oliver. Eve Ewing. Sharon Olds. Danez Smith. Sylvia Plath. H.D. Patricia Smith. Tracie Morris. William Shakespeare. Harryette Mullen. Alice Notley. Nicole Sealey. Randall Mann. Lorine Niedecker. Stephen Crane. David Ignatow. Gertrude Stein. Yedda Morrison. Douglas Kearney. Nikki Wallschlaeger. Guillaume Apollinaire. W. H. Auden. Phyllis Wheatley. Kate Durbin. Amaranth Borsuk. Claudia Rankine.

Adrienne Gruber : part two

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Finding the time to get truly into it. There are many parts to writing that are difficult, but right now I just wish for more time.

Monday 27 May 2019

K.I. Press : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I’ve recently read most of Karen Solie’s books, Kayla Czaga’s two books, Michael Redhill’s new one (Twitch Force), Alice Burdick’s selected (Deportment), and Billy-Ray Belcourt’s This Wound is a World. Also, I supervised a student’s self-published poetry book recently, and I want to plug it: it’s called Dog Star by Kaelen Bell.

G. E. Schwartz : part six

What do you feel poetry can accomplish that other forms cannot?

Poems at their best create solitudes where we can meet.

Sunday 26 May 2019

Elisa Matvejeva : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished?

A poem is finished when the words start to click. I’m a big fan of the good old circle ending, so I sometimes plan ahead, but that doesn’t always work out. Some poems are written by just writing until I run out of words. Others are written with careful planning. And then there are some that just naturally come to a conclusion. I like to draw back to certain points in the poem and end it by almost summarising, so it reads almost like an essay.

Jennifer Kronovet : coda

Why is poetry important? 

I’m not sure it is. But it can be beautiful, and what’s the point of everything important without depth and beauty and understanding and new ways to talk and think?

Saturday 25 May 2019

Cendrine Marrouat : part three

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

I have been reading haiku collections. Haiku is my favorite poetry form and I have studied it extensively to understand its essence and be able to write it myself.

Haiku teach you to write concisely and impactfully. They are the embodiment of the “show, don’t tell” technique that writers are advised to master and that make stories so much more enjoyable to readers.

Julie Morrissy : part four

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

I studied Eavan Boland in high school. I was consumed by her poetry and her life, because she lived in my neighbourhood. Her work brought an enormous sense of possibility for me—as young woman who was writing. She changed what I thought about living, not just writing.

Friday 24 May 2019

Lennart Lundh : part two

Why is poetry important?

It's our best hope of making teleportation and time travel real. Seriously. I just received a note from a reader, who I'm unlikely to ever meet, in Australia, where I've never been. Here in my 70s, my time is naturally limited, but one day my great-grandchild will open a box holding copies of my books. These events aren't science fiction. They're the magic of creative writing. They're our way of touching other people with questions and observations.

Valerie Wallace : part three

What are you working on?

I’m working on getting back to writing, especially daily writing, which is a challenge for me. This last year I traveled a lot to promote my first book, so it was a very social year. I’m learning to lean into my own words again.

Hasan Namir : part four

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

Recently I read Port of Being by Shazia Hafiz Ramji, who is an incredible poet. I loved how it evoked so much emotions and that’s what I enjoy the most about reading poetry is having all the feels. In the book, the reader is often the voyeur, witnesses and questioning all the surroundings and the very core of our own being. I also loved how the book questions our own political identities through the brilliant form.

Thursday 23 May 2019

Kara Petrovic : part four

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I’m choosing to answer this, because I find it very difficult. I’m always revisiting old poems and finding new ways to edit them. I suppose I know a poem is finished when I can no longer do that, which is very, very rare.

Bobbi Lurie : part three

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Definitely. I now see the danger in words and how most everything written is misunderstood.
Ultimately, there is less to say and even less desire to say it.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Ariel Dawn : part three

How does a poem begin?

For me a poem begins with a memory, moment, vision, and the desire to divine, recreate; then, gathering its energy, material, and writing, a phrase or sentence leads into that new time and space.

Jules Arita Koostachin : part six

How does a poem begin?

• With spirit...

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Travis Sharp : part four

What are you working on?

I recently finished a manuscript, Monoculture, poems on, in, of monocultures, the plant and the animal and the violent human kinds. The plant and the animal kinds are also human kinds, because only the depredation made possible by the human could fathom a monoculture.

I’ve begun writing poems about money. How money speaks, how we are hailed by money, the cuteness of its little coins, its neutral cruelty, its creepy lack of materiality. Money is nowhere, and yet.

I’ve been working on essays: on the rejection of industrial literature in Anne Boyer’s Garments Against Women; on Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall and the prevalent but incorrect alignment of a history of progress with liberation; on the avant-garde as a capitalist project that contributes to environmental devastation.

Adrienne Gruber : part one

Adrienne Gruber is the author of three books of poetry, Q & A (Book*hug), Buoyancy Control (Book*hug) and This is the Nightmare (Thistledown Press), and five chapbooks. She won the Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron poetry contest in 2015, SubTerrain’s Lush Triumphant poetry contest in 2017, and her chapbook Mimic was awarded the bp Nichol Chapbook Award in 2012. Originally from Saskatoon, Adrienne lives in Vancouver with her partner and two daughters.

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I don’t necessarily ever know. My latest collection, Q & A, probably contains some of the most ‘finished’ poems of all my collections, but even those poems could be tinkered with forever. I think it depends on your definition of finished. Sometimes a poem is finished when I’m tired of it and I know if I keep working on it I’ll ruin it. Sometimes it’s finished because life is moving on and if I don’t call it done then it will never move forward. Sometimes a poem is finished because it feels right every time I read it.

Monday 20 May 2019

K.I. Press : part three

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Finding a sweet spot between too much and not enough dot-connecting. I don’t think this challenge is at all unique to poetry; it’s one of the great difficulties of much communication, certainly of literature. We can’t see inside readers’ heads, and our own heads are too familiar a landscape to us. How do we make our own thinking strange enough to ourselves that when we write it, it’s new, with all the elements readers need to come to an understanding, but without holding the reader’s hand?

G. E. Schwartz : part five

How does you work first enter the world? Do you have a social group or writer's group that you work ideas and poems with?

After many years ago when I workshopped and studied with the Irish American poet John Montague and soon after with Joseph Brodsky, I internalized, I believe, the patterns of serious critique, and ever since have written poems with, as the tact of my first collection (Only Others Are) implied, as visioning various individuals and groups, audiences, as it were, for placement of the works, both ghosts and those still corporeal.

Sunday 19 May 2019

Elisa Matvejeva : part one

Elisa Matvejeva is a contemporary poet and filmmaker currently residing in London, England. From her travels around the world, she has gained a unique voice and uses it to write her poems. Elisa has been writing since she could hold a pen and, with her mother's encouragement, has made sure always to keep creating. With the publication of her first book, Elisa hopes to continue making more of both beautiful words and films. In her free time, she enjoys films, wine, and cuddling small animals. She's on Instagram as: @elisa.matvejeva

How does a poem begin?

For me, every poem has to start off either with a bang or a truth. Every poem must be ingrained into the reader’s memory as something they could relate to or picture very clearly. Something fascinating enough to stay on their mind despite the poem having ended long before. I think it’s important to grip your reader early on. Many poems have strong punchlines at the end, but I believe in the importance of creating a lasting first impression.

Jennifer Kronovet : part five

When you require renewal, is there a particular poem or book that you return to? A particular author?

When I require renewal, I (re)watch a tv show or movie with a badass female lead who kicks butt or read a novel that takes place inside a brilliant woman’s brain: the first season of Alias or Nikita, Margaret the First, by Danielle Dutton, Wing Chun starring Michelle Yeoh, Oreo by Fran Ross, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, G.L.O.W., Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, any Marvel scene with Misty Knight or Colleen Wing.

Saturday 18 May 2019

Cendrine Marrouat : part two

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

I believe that poetry and theatre are the only art forms that allow artists to tackle very sensitive topics without offending people the way other artform  would.

In my poetry, I have touched on spirituality, death, suicide, racism, and homophobia, for example. I wrote an entire book of short forms dedicated to helping people grieve the death of loved ones better -- Short Poetry for Those Who Fear Death. (

One day, years ago, I received an email from a reader of that book. They told me that before opening the collection, they had wanted to die. When they were done, their life had a new meaning. They had never wanted to live more. This is one of the best compliments I have ever received. And knowing that this little book helped someone is the icing on the cake.

Julie Morrissy : part three

How does your work first enter the world? Do you have a social group or writers group that you work ideas and poems with?

Mostly I keep my work in progress to myself, but I work with my editor when I’m putting a collection together and I have a couple of close friends and mentors who review work for me. I also do a lot of readings so that is often how the poems first enter the world.

Friday 17 May 2019

Lennart Lundh : part one

Lennart Lundh is a poet, short-fictionist, historian, and photographer. Since 1965 he's authored seventeen books of poetry and two more of short stories; had his words and images published in hundreds of journals, magazines, and anthologies; and read in front of well over a hundred audiences. Len's books can be found on Amazon and Etsy, while his photography is available from Fine Art America and Redbubble.

Photo credit: Jen Pezzo.

What are you working on?

Right now, I'm doing a 30/30 where folks make a donation to St. Baldrick's and I send them a poem each day of April, along with a book-format pdf and hand-bound chapbook after the month is over. St. Baldrick's is second only to the US government in financing research into cures for childhood cancers, and this is the sixth year I've done Poems Against Cancer. (

Valerie Wallace : part two

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Absolutely. When I make a poem now, it’s about the poem and the reader, not about the poem and my own needs. I’m now inexorably attuned to form, thanks to the good work of teachers and reading other poets.

Hasan Namir : part three

What poets changed the way you thought about writing? 

The one course that changed the way I perceive and write poetry is English 472- Advanced Poetry (Simon Fraser University). It was taught by Jordan Scott, who is not only an incredible poet, but an amazing mentor. He opened my eyes to a whole new world of experimental poetry, which intertwines with the dialectical themes such as sexuality and religion, two major themes that I play with in my poetry book War/Torn. If I had wrote the book with rhymes, then it would lose its significance. I am very grateful for him and also super grateful for my professor/mentor Jacqueline Turner, who inspired me to find new ways to write poetry. She challenged on the way I incorporate words and how to reshape them so they would give new meaning. Another author/poet who inspired me is Fred Wah, especially the term languageless, being hyphenated in-between two opposite languages. I find myself hyphenated between Arabic-English, Iraqi-Canadian, in search of reconciliation between the two identities and languages.

Thursday 16 May 2019

Kara Petrovic : part three

When you require renewal, is there a particular poem or book that you return to? A particular author?

Always, always Richard Siken. I have many poetry books to-be-read, they are piling up on my desk. But I always return to Richard Siken, particularly Crush, when I find I need to be renewed.

Bobbi Lurie : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

Poetry happened to me. It was at my father’s funeral. I didn’t even realize it happened at the time. But I wrote my first poem at my father’s funeral. I went off to write in my journal which I carried with me everywhere I went. Only this time it was all fragmentation. I was hiding behind a tree, unable to finish a single sentence. These indeterminate lines and half-expressed thoughts mirrored the sense of confusion I felt. And the fragmentation was truer than anything I had experienced before. My way of writing changed forever.

I realized later that these unfinished collections of lines and blank spaces might be called poems. They weren't like the poems I remembered reading in school. It was a revelation. I felt poetry was an absolute miracle and, strangely, I realized it was actually something I had always been doing, combining words and blank spaces, images and words together on the page.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Ariel Dawn : part two

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

The poetic prose of Elizabeth Smart, Marie-Claire Blais, Virginia Woolf, Leonard Cohen, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Andre Breton, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell, Dylan Thomas, they write from the borderlands of reality and dream, and the narrative as well as the poetry is immersive.

Jules Arita Koostachin : part five

Why is poetry important?

• Poetry is important to me because I love how we can make our most traumatic experiences into art... almost like the words can disguise our deepest pain, but also share it with our readers without having to really go there. There are things in my life that I have never shared, but when I write I can creatively express myself without feeling vulnerable.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Travis Sharp : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

When you stop reading or writing, a poem is finished. A finished poem might be finished like wood is finished or finished like a death is a finishing. When I stop reading, stop writing, stand up, get some coffee, look out the window, pet the cat, check my phone, send an email, the poem is finished.

Monday 13 May 2019

K.I. Press : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

In grade three, I had read the Alice books so many times that I realized that I memorized parts of them without even trying—especially the poems. So, I started memorizing poems on purpose: everything in Alice (I can recite “Jabberwocky” in both English and French and do a mean “Walrus and the Carpenter” to boot, though I’ve forgotten many of the others), then the poems in Roald Dahl books, then traditional ballads and Robert Service poems, Dennis Lee, and Tennyson and anything else that Anne Shirley might have recited. My mom was taking university courses by correspondence when I was in grade three, so I got a lot of my material from the Norton Anthology of Poetry (there was no bookstore in my small town, not a lot of poetry in the library, and this was way before the internet). I probably reached the height of my informal poetry recitation career in grade five or six, though in high school I got turned on to Shakespeare soliloquies.

G. E. Schwartz : part four

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

At near 61 now, I approach the page, especially in my "solo" work of poems themselves, as a kind of temenos, a sacred place, a space (almost a landscape) dedicated to worship or deemed divine. When at the outset, when I began writing steadily on in my teens, the last thing I wanted in my work was the imaginative power of numinosity, as then, under the heavy influence of John Berryman, it was all about creating poems as soliloquys, characters speaking their profane bits.

Sunday 12 May 2019

Lucas Lejeune : part five

What are you working on?

I am currently the resident writer in Castel Coucou, a contemporary art space in an old French synagogue. This religious building inspired me to work from religious texts, combining them with technological elements. The final piece may or may not be the fake translation of an imaginary codex, written by a fictional, digital entity. In the final book, this "original" text would be partially decoded, transcripted, translated and commented (thus giving hints about the sources, protocols and constraints used). A visual piece might go with the book, as a reproduction of the "raw data" from which the original text would come from. My goal is to generate the feeling of a mysterious, parallel, global, high-tech religion like one from Science-Fiction. I want to achieve this in a more chaotic, abstract, cryptic and fragmented way than a story would do, which is why I use poetry instead of fiction.

Jennifer Kronovet : part four

What poetry books have you been reading lately?

Lately I’ve read these three amazing books: Hardly War by Don Mee Choi, Calamities by Renee Gladman, and Hey, Marfa by Jeffrey Yang.

Saturday 11 May 2019

Cendrine Marrouat : part one

Cendrine Marrouat is a photographer, poet, author, and French Instructor. Born and raised in Toulouse, France, she moved to Canada in 2003.

Cendrine started her artistic career in 2005 and has released 11 books, including five collections of poetry, three photography books, a play, and three social media ebooks. Her 12th book will be released in February 2019.

Cendrine specializes in nature, black-and-white and closeup images. Her photography seeks the mundane to capture the fleeting, but true beauty of life in its many forms.


How does a poem begin?

In my case, a poem usually starts with a title. I cannot write anything if I don’t have that first. So, even with an idea, which often comes to me in the shower, my creativity will only flow naturally after this first step.

In rare occasions, a poem will come to me like a bolt of lightning. I always have a pen and piece of paper handy to jot down notes. 

Julie Morrissy : part two

How do you know when a poem is finished? 

I love how Rachel Blau DuPlessis thinks about states of completion. In Drafts 77-95, she writes, “Perhaps there should be no more poems, only acts of writing. There would be no more books, but transfer points; no finished pages, simply work sites.”

Friday 10 May 2019

Valerie Wallace : part one

Valerie Wallace is the author of House of McQueen, selected by Vievee Francis for the Four Way Books Intro Prize, and the chapbook The Dictators’ Guide to Good Housekeeping. She lives in Chicago and when she’s not making poems, she’s creating websites.

Photo credit: Marc Monaghan

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Following the courage of my convictions. Crafting the conviction of my courage.

Hasan Namir : part two

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

Novels and other forms of writing often have a strict structure and style, whereas poetry can be expressed in various forms. With poetry, I am able to experiment with words, space. Also, poetry accomplishes deep emotions that resonate with me for a long time. Poetry is personal and fills all the emptiness that’s inside me. The poems are my bodies, often destabilized to evoke the conflicting emotions that I’m feeling inside. Hence, I have artistic freedom with poetry, which allows me to experiment unlike other forms of writing.

Thursday 9 May 2019

Kara Petrovic : part two

How did you first engage with poetry?

I first engaged with poetry when I was just 8 years old. I wrote a poem, lost forever now, about empathy that was featured in our local newspaper. I haven’t stopped since.

Fern G. Z. Carr : coda

If I were to share my experience with emerging poets, I'd distill it down to the following:

• Read poetry by many different poets who write in many different styles. 

• Write because you truly want to write.  Poetry is a labour of love.  It is not about financial gain. 

• Persist, persist, persist!  The rest will naturally follow.

Bobbi Lurie : part one

Bobbi Lurie is the author of The Book I Never Read, Letter From The Lawn, Grief Suite and the morphine poems.

What are you working on?

I’m working on a new poetry collection. I’m also working on a collection of stories about / with Marcel Duchamp. I’ve been collecting Marcel Duchamp’s quotes from YouTubes and interviews for years, using them to invent an imaginary world where Marcel Duchamp comes back from the dead, existing as my confidant and friend. It’s also an autobiography of sorts, an autobiography of my relationship with art, the longest relationship of my life.

And, of course, I’m working on this interview. I finished all the questions you sent months ago, I actually finished them the minute I received them. But I decided to put my automatic answers away. I went on to read other interviews you’ve published, thinking back to everything poetry has ever meant to me. I’ve really appreciated taking the time to think about these questions. This, for me, is the most fascinating subject. What poetry does. What poetry is.

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Ariel Dawn : part one

Ariel Dawn lives in Victoria, British Columbia with her son and daughter. She spends her time writing, reading, studying Tarot, and working on her first collection of prose poems. Recent work appears in Guest, Train, and Litro.

How did you first engage with poetry?

I grew up in the country, rather a misfit, tormented by mental illness, but sometimes my mother played Leonard Cohen, and there were fireplaces and walls of books; so I began to listen, read, write, in order to live.

Jules Arita Koostachin : part four

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

• I write from an InNiNeWak (Cree) ethos, I see the world as an Indigenous woman (no other way) so my writing is a reflection of that worldview. I was raised by my Cree grandparents and my mother, a residential school warrior and so, my narrative is a compilation of all of their stories. At times, I wonder if non-Indigenous people can connect with my writing, if they do great and if not, why? What's important to me as a writer, is that there is room for all of us from different walks of life to share our stories. Also, if my words make one uncomfortable and/or question, then I know that I am creating change in some way or form. 

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Kenning (FKA Kenyatta) JP García : part five

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Jim Carroll and then Ted Berrigan and then Frank O'Hara in that order laid the groundwork for my poetic stylings. Breton and Jean Genet shifted my ideas. Bob Kaufman added yet another layer to my poetic understanding but David Antin and Nicanor Parra brought me back to the beginning. They got me back to thinking about talking and chronology and brought me around to the potential of antipoetry and its relationship to conversation and diary.

Travis Sharp : part two

How does a poem begin?

Torn between idealism and materialism, I can’t decide if it begins in the mind, conceptual image, or if it begins in the placement of a mark onto a substrate, the drawing of a letter onto a surface. I’ll say that it is somehow, impossibly yet actually, both.

Monday 6 May 2019

K.I. Press : part one

K.I. Press is a writer in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her four books are Pale Red Footprints (Pedlar, 2001), Spine (Gaspereau, 2004), Types of Canadian Women (Gaspereau, 2006), and Exquisite Monsters (Turnstone, 2015). She has an MA in English from the University of Ottawa and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She teaches writing at Red River College in Winnipeg.

What are you working on?

I am working on a fantasy novel about theatre students who go to a Shakespeare world—not an Elizabethan world, but a world where everything plays out like it is on a stage. Time and space work differently, and the Shakespearean characters, though they are run amok by the standards of anyone who knows their stories, live with a profound sense of fatalism, because they know their outcomes are determined by a mysterious script. Also: pregnant action hero. (Of course, all this could change by the time I really finish the darn thing.)

G. E. Schwartz : part three

How do you first know a poem is finished?

If it seems to hold its gestalt on the page and if when I read it slowly aloud, it feels it says what it has to say with no more or no less.

Alexandre Ferrere : coda

This is more a thank you note than a comment or a coda. I seize this opportunity to thank the writing community out there (readers, writers, editors, interviewers and so on) which is full of incredible people who, like you, are working hard to build beautiful monuments on a turbulent ground.

Sunday 5 May 2019

Lucas Lejeune : part four

What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

Writing poetry is easy since everything became poetry. But writing good poetry, whether it be purely conceptual or deeply lyrical, is very difficult. Honestly, I still don't understand how poetry really works. I'm not sure about what makes a good poem, it might entirely be its readership for all I know. Nevertheless, I think a good poem is often smart, ambiguous, radical, funny, subversive and/or musical. Sometimes everything at once. Most importantly, good poetry should display multiple layers of meaning.

Jennifer Kronovet : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

I wish I could answer this question. I’ve tried to! I know that I resist writing poems that close up at the end, but I also hope if you hold my poems upside down, something stays inside. I can say that I rarely get that feeling of boom, I did it after I finish a poem. And when I do, I don’t trust the feeling or the poem one bit.

Saturday 4 May 2019

Julie Morrissy : part one

Julie Morrissy is an Irish poet, critic, and activist. She has spent time living in Canada and the U.S. Her debut poetry pamphlet I Am Where (Eyewear, 2015) was shortlisted for Best Poetry Pamphlet in the 2016 Saboteur Awards. Also in 2016, she was selected as a “Rising Generation” poet by Vona Groarke, editor of Poetry Ireland Review. In 2015, she was shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize 2015, and selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. Her creative and critical work has been published widely in Ireland, the U.K., Canada and the U.S., including in gorse, Cyphers, The Stinging Fly, Poetry Ireland Review, ASAP/ Journal, and White Wall Review. Where, the Mile End is her first book. Morrissy currently lives in her hometown of Dublin, Ireland.

Photo credit: Siobhán Butler.

How did you first engage with poetry?

We read and wrote poetry in school, both in Irish and English. And my family are interested in poetry—my grandmother kept clippings of poems from the newspaper. I remember writing a lot of poems as a kid.

Candice Wuehle : part five

How does a poem begin?

With a glitch. Most (maybe all?) of my poems begin with trying to think through something that resists comprehension, something that is managing to exist outside my own intellectual economy: an excess/affect/aura that can’t be accounted for in my schema. This takes a lot of different forms. I think in my earlier work I thought a lot about emotional excess, but I’ve really become more obsessed over the last few years with thinking about psychic excess. So, for example, every poem in my last book, DEATH INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, takes its point of departure from a moment of sublime uncanny in a photograph by Francesca Woodman. The poem “i’m trying my hand at fashion photography” (forthcoming in The Bennington Review) takes these lines:

[…]                           Frames
become us all. Lift
a limp glove with a glovved hand
to estimate the importance of a body. Everything
i say is nude
propaganda, is spiritual inseam. Spit
ash. Pin the fur to the wall. […]
from this photo of Woodman’s. The engine for the poem was really just thinking through the weirdly animated quality of the empty glove, trying to figure out why it was so effective.

Friday 3 May 2019

Hasan Namir : part one

Hasan Namir was born in Iraq in 1987. He graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BA in English and received the Ying Chen Creative Writing Student Award. He is the author of God in Pink (2015), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His work has also been featured on Huffington Post, Shaw TV, Airbnb, and in the film God in Pink: A Documentary. His latest book is War / Torn (Book*hug Press, 2018). Hasan lives with his husband in Vancouver.

Photo credit: Tarn Khare.

Has your consideration of poetry changed since you began?

Growing up, I was writing poems that would rhyme at the end, sometimes lyrical. I perceived poetry as words that had to flow and rhyme with each other. Then, when I enrolled in English 472 – Advanced Poetry at Simon Fraser University, my whole perception of poetry was questioned and revolutionized. I veered away from rhyming and my poems all became free verse. I started to experiment with form and words to give new meaning. Now, my poetry writing has continued to be experimental with the form complimenting the words and themes.

Thursday 2 May 2019

Kara Petrovic : part one

Kara Petrovic is 23 years old and is currently living in Toronto, Ontario. They are a survivor of trauma three times over and are living with a variety of mental health disorders. They have been writing poetry since they were 8 years old. They have self-published a collection, titled beyond rock bottom in 2017 and have been previously published in CONKER magazine in 2018. In 2019, their work was selected for publication in Philadelphia Stories' upcoming issue. They have also been selected to read at Toronto's Emerging Writers Series 2019. They also recently self-published another collection, titled forget-me-not. They identify as genderfluid and pansexual, and this is frequently reflected upon in their work.

Photo credit: Logan Cerson.

What are you working on?

I think a more appropriate question would be what aren’t I working on. I currently am working on promoting my first collection, beyond rock bottom and my second collection out February 15 2019, forget-me-not. There are two other chapbooks that are currently undergoing the process of submission. A creative nonfiction I wrote is scheduled for publication in Philadelphia Stories this Spring. I finished the first draft of a very queer, very noir fiction book I co-wrote and am working on revisions. I’m submitting poetry like crazy, drowning under piles and piles of rejections, and desperately trying to… well, get out there.

Fern G. Z. Carr : part five

What are you working on?

I have recently finished working with my publisher, Silver Bow Publishing, on the release of my poetry collection, Shards of Crystal. I am therefore currently focussing on readings and sharing my poetry with others. 

I'm still submitting my work to journals and anthologies worldwide which I do on a regular basis.  That is in addition to my ongoing personal challenge to be published in all fifty USA states.  (I've been published in most of them so far but am working towards fifty.)

I've always composed foreign language poetry and will often translate it into English.  I'll sometimes start with one of my English poems and then translate it into another language.  My preference though is to write the poem in my language or languages of choice and then translate it into English.  It seems to come across as more genuine that way. 

All that said, I am attempting to write more poetry in Mandarin.  It is such a great language.  Typing the Chinese characters on the computer can tend to be pretty time-consuming though.

Wednesday 1 May 2019

Jules Arita Koostachin : part three

How do you know when a poem is finished?

• I know because I feel like that there is nothing left inside me, but with that stated, my poems also feel like a continuation of the one before. So when I am writing, I almost pick up where I left off, and I allow myself to travel into other realms once again. There are times when I don't really know what I will be writing about, I just sit at my computer and let my spirit guide me. After a writing session I reread my words, and often wonder where they came from...