Jenn Currin takes us to School

I said shortlist poets would be featured on Mondays – I did, but here I am on a Tuesday with a lingering chocolate hangover from the weekend’s festivities and a delayed post.  With the brilliant Jenn Currin as our guest interview today, I think you will agree that both she and her book are well worth the wait.

SchSchoolool is shortlisted for The Pat Lowther Memorial Award which is given for a book of poetry by a Canadian woman published in the preceding year, and is in memory of the late Pat Lowther, whose career was cut short by her untimely death in 1975. The award carries a $1,000 prize and its winner will be announced at the LCP Annual Poetry Festival and Conference in Winnipeg on May 30th, 2015.

This year’s Pat Lowther Jury describes Jenn’s book as intense: intense in emotion, in experience, in formalistic experiment. Each poem built of a series of disjointed lines articulates that sense of unease aroused by life lessons: the death of a parent, the rush of new love, daily failures. For all this push to experiment, the real world is always there, in concrete, vivid and at the most unexpected moments, humorous terms.

But now, let’s hear from Jenn Currin herself:

What inspired this book of poetry?

School is inspired and informed by the idea that life is a spiritual school.

Describe your writing process.

I’m primarily a collagist. I keep a writing notebook with me at all times and am always taking notes. When I go to write, I leaf through my notebook to see what interests me, and I weave lines together, adding new content as I go.

The theme for this year’s National Poetry Month is food. If your book were a meal, what would it be?

Green tea and honey with a dash of cayenne.

What is your favorite food?


Favorite poets?

Rumi, Elizabeth Bishop, Max Jacob, Fanny Howe, Alice Notley, Wallace StevensJenn Currin

You are this century’s Rilke composing your Letters to a Young Poet. What is your advice?

If you don’t ride a bike, get one, and compose poems while you bike. If you are a bicyclist, get off your bike and walk it. Compose poems while you walk.


Jen Currin’s previous books are The Sleep of Four Cities, Hagiography and The Final Inquisition Yours, which was a finalist for three awards and won the 2011 Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry. She lives in Vancouver and teaches at Vancouver Community College and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Visit her website for more information or buy her book here!