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One final, tremendous thanks to the great folks over at All Lit Up who have been curating and sharing amazing interviews all throughout National Poetry Month! We have one last summary of the resistance for you, from week four: poetry vs. the patriarchy. Don’t forget to check out the All Lit Up blog for all their original NPM content, and follow them year round for great bookish posts!
Consummate poet and writer Molly Peacock returns with her latest collection, The Analyst (Biblioasis), a chronicling of her long-term therapist’s recovery from a stroke through painting. Through the recovery, Molly went from patient to helper, witnessing the transformative power of not only art, but human relationships, too.
ALU: What does poetry as resistance mean to you?
MP: My poetry of resistance means embracing complexity, never oversimplifying situations or people. My poetry of resistance embraces the poetry of emotion, the poetry of big feelings that can be scary and overwhelming but convey intense passion. My poetry of resistance takes psychological risks. And it is female. It resists disguise, and the protection of flattened language. It loves vocabulary, but not curlicues. I think all poetry is written from an initial interior impulse, but what I resist is the inclination to cover that impulse in a cool, ironic, or divorced-from-feeling way. After all, there are only two subjects of a lyric poem: love and death. Do I want to read a poem that isn’t emotionally connected? Nope. I resist that.
Read the full interview with Molly Peacock, as well as an excerpt from The Analyst, on the All Lit Up blog.
In 3 Summers (Coach House), poet Lisa Robertson traces the body in its various forms, exploring borders and boundaries and time, all the while asking what is a body? In Lisa’s words “…the whole female body of time mostly passes beneath representation.” Read on for a poem from the collection, and an interview with the poet.
ALU: Why did you write this collection?
LR: I wanted to represent the passage of time, the different qualities and textures of time in the body of the poem. This time is female. It angers and saddens me that the whole female body of time mostly passes beneath representation. My own body gives me information about this suppressed materiality; so does research, and friendship. I want to get to the core of what the experience of living is, in view of the inevitable fact of mortality. It’s in this sense that I have Lucretian aspirations for my poems.
Read the full interview with Lisa Robertson, as well as an excerpt from 3 Summers, on the All Lit Up blog.
Rachel Lebowitz’s Cottonopolis (Pedlar Press), describes the seedier side of the Industrial Revolution through both found and prose poetry. Moving from the British cotton industry at home to colonization and slavery abroad, the Industrial Revolution’s brutality on its oft-forgotten suffering are revealed, from “little lads” who “get littler” and scavengers who “are not birds.”
ALU: If you were protesting the patriarchy, what would your protest sign read?
RL: Probably something classic like “My Body, My Choice.” Whatever I held, I’d understand it – which would be one up from my great-grandmother. Ida Hannus (the subject of my first book, Hannus) was a suffragist who came from Finland to B.C. (to be part of the Finnish utopian socialist commune Sointula, on Malcolm Island). Family lore has it that when she first arrived in Vancouver, she knew no English and one of the first things she saw was a bunch of women marching and holding signs – and she took one and held it high, hoping that she believed in what it said.
Read the full interview with Rachel Lebowitz, as well as an excerpt from Cottonopolis, on the All Lit Up blog.
Lise Gaston’s Cityscapes in Mating Season (Signature Editions) speaks from a woman’s bodily experience of the world, from the reimagining of a ruined castle as a female body participating in her own patriarchal “ruining,” to the pervading fear of being alone outside, in the dark. The poems lay insight into the female body, a body struggling with illness and trying to define itself against lovers and doctors.
ALU: What are some books that inspired or informed Cityscapes in Mating Season?
LG: The ideas behind this collection began to germinate six years ago: any list is going to be so incomplete. When I think back to the beginning, however, two primary strands of reading stand out. I was interested in how women poets were taking up sonnet sequences and other linked verse forms in new ways: Susan Gillis’s Volta, Ann Carson’s The Beauty of the Husband, Adrienne Rich’s The Dream of a Common Language, Lorna Crozier’s Bones in Their Wings, and Jan Conn’s Botero’s Beautiful Horses come to mind. The second group of books came from my interest in landscape history and aesthetics that inform Cityscapes, particularly as framed through political economic, post-colonial, and feminist lenses: alongside primary sources such as William Gilpin’s An Essay On Picturesque Beauty and Dorothy Wordsworth’s beautiful and important Grasmere Journals, my thinking was influenced by Joanna Zylinska’s On Spiders, Cyborgs, and Being Scared: The Feminine and the Sublime; Elizabeth Grosz’s Time Travels: Feminism, Nature, Power; Ann Bermingham’s Landscape and Ideology; Jill Casid’s Sowing Empire; and Susan Glickman’s The Picturesque and the Sublime: A Poetics of the Canadian Landscape.
Read the full interview with Lise Gaston, as well as an excerpt from Cityscapes in Mating Season, on the All Lit Up blog.
Katherine Leyton’s debut poetry collection All the Gold Hurts My Mouth (Goose Lane Editions) is a perfect end to #poetsresist: it examines sexual politics through the 21st century lens of ever-present communication technology. Her raw-yet-gorgeous poetics are a view into what poetry as resistance can look like as we strike back, and move ahead.
ALU: Why did you write this collection?
KL: For as long as I can remember, I have been highly disturbed by harmful representations of and behaviour towards women that are considered perfectly normal. It is the rage I feel on a daily basis over our acceptance of these behaviours and portrayals that has always compelled me to write. I couldn’t have not written this book; it was partly a selfish coping mechanism, partly an attempt to reach out to other individuals who might feel this way, partly a (possibly deluded) attempt to open people’s eyes to the potential damage caused by what we consider normal, and partly a confession of my own participation in behaviours that cause damage to myself and other women.
Read the full interview with Katherine Leyton, as well as an excerpt from All the Gold Hurts My Mouth, on the All Lit Up blog.