POETS RESIST: NPM ON ALU, WEEK 3

This content has been provided by All Lit Up, an online bookstore and blog run by the Literary Press Group for readers of emerging, quirky, and unabashedly Canadian literature by some of Canada’s finest independent publishers.

We are already into the final week of National Poetry Month! Today on the blog we’re catching up with the resistance happening over at All Lit Up — we have the tail end of week 2 (poetry vs. homophobia and transphobia) and a full summary of week 3, poetry vs. environmental destruction. Thanks to All Lit Up for curating and sharing these fantastic interviews!

 

With references as wide-ranging as Bollywood and an old edition of Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, Guyanese-Canadian poet Faizal Deen uses his collection The Greatest Films (Mawenzi House) to queer and decolonialize the cultural and historical touchpoints that make up the poems within it.

ALU: If you were protesting homophobia and/or transphobia, what would your protest sign read?

FD: MAKE MORE QUEERS!

ALU: Why did you write this collection?

FD: I wrote this book to explore some aspects of a queer diasporic migration that takes place between Canada and Guyana in the 1970s and 1980s and how these experiences inform the exile’s transition from adolescence to adulthood. I envisioned my book as a collection of scenes for a film. The poems are sliced up according to how I would see them in my mind; as I would sit down to write them. I knew they would not be easy to read because the language of diasporic displacement resists the grammatological normativity of traditional verse lines. However, it is my hope that readers will accept the poetic speaker’s invitation into the text and its linguistic mysteries and to travel with the poet through their fragmented psyche.

Read the full interview with Faizal Deen, as well as an excerpt from The Greatest Films, on the All Lit Up blog.

 

The small farming community of Blomidon on Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy is the setting and heart of Deirdre Dwyer’s The Blomidon Logs (ECW Press). The poems in the collection refer to the legends of the First Nations chief who once settled there, and celebrate those who make a living off the land. Below we share an interview with Deirdre, along with “The Years Mapped Out,” a poem from her book that in her words is about “my father and with a reference to the destruction of the hardwood forests.”

ALU: What does poetry as resistance mean to you?

DD: I think artists, writers, and poets have the responsibility to voice their concerns about events that are happening in the world. Poetry can and should be political because the personal is political. As a feminist, as one concerned about the environment and political upheaval and injustices, I wrote protest poems and feminist poetry and poems that speak to concerns about equality, environmental destruction, justice, and freedom. I think about Carolyn Forche’s poem, “The Colonel,” about violence and torture in El Salvador. I think of Denise Levertov writing essays about political poetry. Artists, poets, and all writers need to articulate their concerns and share them, and to speak out.

Read the full interview with Deirdre Dwyer, as well as an excerpt from The Blomidon Logs, on the All Lit Up blog.

Leanne Dunic’s collection  To Love the Coming End (BookThug) is environmentally-conscious, in an entropic sort of way: “Everything will end,” she says in our interview. “Such is the nature of life.” All the same, Leanne discusses improving our environment to give us the space to fix our other failings.

ALU: Why did you write this collection?

LD: Environmental crisis is at the forefront of my mind. Of the many problems our world faces, if we can’t correct our treatment of the environment, there will be no place left for us to work on correcting our other problems. Everything will end. Such is the nature of life. Since that’s one thing we truly know, I want to suggest embracing the impending ends of our worlds while doing what we can to sustain people, relationships, environments, etc.

Read the full interview with Leanne Dunic, as well as an excerpt from To Love the Coming End, on the All Lit Up blog.

In Caribou Run (Goose Lane Editions), Richard Kelly Kemick’s debut poetry collection, we glimpse the Porcupine caribou herd of the western Arctic through its annual cycle of migration, exploring what we share with this creature and what remains ineffable. Running the gamut in form and theme, the poems range from lyric studies of the caribou and its environment to personal poems that use the caribou as a metaphor.

ALU: What are some books that inspired or informed Caribou Run?

RKK: Don McKay’s Strike/Skip; Sue Sinclair’s Breaker; Anne Simpson’s Light Falls Through You; and (Christ, forgive me) Wordsworth’s Selected. Oh, and anything by Rilke (pretentious, I know). Of course, Karen Solie’s Pigeon, as well.

ALU: If you were protesting the environmental destruction, what would your protest sign read?

RKK: For sale: landscape, heavily worn.

Read the full interview with Richard Kelly Kemick, as well as an excerpt from Caribou Run, on the All Lit Up blog.

Poet John Reibetanz’s collection  Afloat (Brick Books) explores humanity’s relationship to water: how we use it, are threatened by it, corrupt it, and are made whole by it. John calls our relationship with water the “natural metaphor for the reciprocal relationship between humanity and the environment,” discusses his inspirations both poetic and photographic, and shares the poem “Another River” in our interview below.

ALU: If you were protesting environmental destruction, what would your protest sign read?

JR: “Save the Environment: Save Your Breath”

ALU: What does poetry as resistance mean to you?

JR: It means giving poetry a backbone so that it can resist any forces that the poet’s conscience finds unacceptable.

Read the full interview with John Reibetanz, as well as an excerpt from Afloat, on the All Lit Up blog.

Jeff Steudel’s Foreign Park (Anvil Press) voices concerns about the natural world and our relationship with it, exploring both our individual and collective impact on the environment. As the poems detail the effects of destruction on our land, they also peek into the communities in Vancouver’s coastal cityscape, asking questions about everything from death to fidelity. Below Jeff shares a poem from his collection, his inspirations behind his work, and some insight into what poetry as resistance means to him.

ALU: If you were protesting environmental destruction, what would your protest sign read?

JS: During the Enbridge protests in Vancouver, my sign was “Stephen Harper is an Environmental Terrorist.” Now, I think it would have something to do with challenging the tired idea that we need new pipelines to pay for clean technology. The problem is that people of my generation have been hearing that rationale for our whole adult lives. Sure, it may be easier to keep doing what we have been, but it definitely isn’t better. Maybe something like this: CEOs and politicians should have to go and live in the communities where their products and/or policies cause destruction.

Read the full interview with Jeff Steudel, as well as an excerpt from Foreign Park, on the All Lit Up blog.