NOW Digital Residency: Ontario's Best Books
As part of this month’s Ontario’s Best Books Digital Residency, we’re profiling some of this province’s prominent authors. See all of the profiles here.
What’s your most recent work about?
Admission Requirements is about how we orient ourselves and the ways we are tied to landscape. As the title suggests, the poems explore what’s required of us to enter, to arrive and to live within real and imaginary borders.
Do you have anything specific you do for your writing process?
Poems tend to arrive when I’m doing something else or while I’m on my way elsewhere – sometimes just a line and sometimes large chunks of a poem. I would repeat these bits to myself again and again until I could get them down. I don’t have a great memory but accuracy is less important than capturing the essence of the thing. This way of writing really helps to tighten up syntax through repetition and bring out the inherent music of the line. So a means of capture born out of necessity has now become my preferred process. It allows me to work on several things at once, but also means that I’m prone to walking into furniture, doors, people, etc. It’s not the safest way to write.
What’s one thing Ontario creative industries could do to be more inclusive of authors from indigenous and diverse communities.
One thing is to look closely at the spaces your organization occupies and to reflect upon how welcoming it is to people of colour and Indigenous peoples, and if you find that these venues and meeting spaces reinforce the power dynamics inherent within our culture, then if possible, try to transpose your programs and activities into other kinds of spaces. For instance, go into the communities your organization wants to forge relationships with rather than expecting them to come to you or to adjust themselves and to conform to your organization structures and ways of dialoguing.
What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had shared with you when you were first starting out as a writer?
When you’re first starting out as a writer, there’s a lot of time, space and silence which can be isolating but it’s also an incredibly rich time full of potential because you can become any kind of writer, write anything. Becoming more involved with the community and more well-known also brings its own riches but then that time and space becomes a rare commodity, one that requires protecting.
Name a person in your field who you think deserves more attention – and tell us why.
Jasmine Gui, a poet, artist, editor, producer and recent transplant from Singapore who founded Project 40 Collective. Project 40 is an Asian Arts Collective based in Toronto that has become a creative crossroads for emerging Asian and South Asian Canadian artists and writers, whose work is showcased in their Looseleaf Magazine. What Gui and the other Project 40 staff and volunteers have accomplished in such a short period of time is so impressive and necessary, particularly in their approach towards acting in solidarity with other marginalized communities and orienting themselves towards anti-racism and anti-oppression.
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