Woven Odes: Kerry Gilbert

April 6, 2016

Our second Woven Odes feature is from Okanagan Valley-based poet Kerry Gilbert, whose second book  Tight Wire is soon to be released from Mother Tongue Publishing. As its name might suggest, Tight Wire is a soaring collection of poems centred around imagery of the circus – chiefly, tightrope walkers – but more deeply, concerns itself with the "balancing act" women face on a daily basis between their domestic and public lives. 

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Our second Woven Odes feature is from Okanagan Valley-based poet Kerry Gilbert, whose second book  Tight Wire is soon to be released from Mother Tongue Publishing. As its name might suggest, Tight Wire is a soaring collection of poems centred around imagery of the circus – chiefly, tightrope walkers – but more deeply, concerns itself with the "balancing act" women face on a daily basis between their domestic and public lives. 

For a taste of what Gilbert's exquisite prose, you could listen to the acclaim for her first collection: "love Ondaatje style". Or, you could read a short excerpt from Tight Wire below, "No. 1," as well as a short interview with this gifted poet.

 

ALU: Which particular poets or poetry collections have most inspired your writing (in general or for this particular collection)?

Kerry Gilbert: So, so many—and for fear of leaving out some important ones, I will pick just one. Sina Queyras Lemon Hound, specifically a poem like “The lover,” was very inspiring to me. I read that collection/that poem and thought, yes—I am home here.

Partially what inspired me to play with the white space/prose poem balance in Tight Wire was feeling, while reading Lemon Hound, that I would love some breath/space between each prose poem.

ALU: Are you inspired by a particular place, thing, or someone other than a poet?

KG: Two places really inspire me: being in/on/around the mountains (slightly hackneyed, but true) and readings (poetry or other)—where some lovely artist is brave enough to stand in front of a room of friends and strangers to speak/perform their art.

ALU: Do you have any writing rituals?

KG: I start by writing a poem by hand. I copy edit the first draft, rewrite a variety of good copies by hand, and then type my favourite version to see if I’m happy with how it’s working—especially aesthetically with line breaks (if I’m using them). When it comes to ordering a manuscript, I scatter all of the printed poems on the floor and find the flow of the narrative one poem at a time.

 

 

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Follow along all April long with our  Woven Odes series, in celebration of National Poetry Month. If you've fallen for Kerry Gilbert's death-defying collection, check out our  interactive poetry web to see which poets you might like to read after Tight Wire.


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