Poetry Muse: Carlie Blume + Gigglepuss
Carlie Blume lists her poetry muse(s) behind her collection Gigglepuss (Guernica Editions) as "a collective of all the empathetic, hard working women in my life": most notably her grandmother, who made the incredibly difficult, incredibly brave decision to pursue MAID. Carlie shares a poem from the collection inspired by her grandmother: "Waiting for Palliative Care."See more details below
An interview with Carlie Blume
1. Who or what is your muse?
To only choose one muse feels next to impossible for me — I would have to say that is a collective of all the empathetic, hard working women in my life. A lot of my poems in this book were inspired by women like my mother, my late grandmother and best friend since childhood, Sarah. I am also inspired by the female writers whose work I devour daily — women who dare to write about emotional interiority and loss in an original and offbeat way — Ottessa Moshfegh, Sheila Heti, Evelyn Lau, Sharon Olds, Jonina Kirton, Elena Ferrante to name a few.
When it comes down to it though I think a lot of my grandmother and the strength and perseverance she demonstrated throughout her life has inspired me. In the last weeks of her life she had made the difficult decision to peruse MAID (medical assistance in dying) and during those final days I witnessed her grapple with that decision and then press forward into it with a bravery I had never seen in anyone before. Despite her not being with us anymore I still hold her energy close.
2. What inspired you when you started writing your poetry collection? And what is your creative process when you begin writing?
I was in my early to mid-thirties when I first had the idea for this collection and it was a time in my life where I was really starting to reflect on the idea of memory, familial ruins offset by the more tangible physical ruins of late stage capitalism (abandoned malls, effects of climate change etc) and how all these things were sort of connected for me.
A lot of my creative process starts with figuring out what kind of ideas and themes I want to focus in on—this begins as a very loose structure that I will usually build on as the writing comes to me. In the beginning there are a lot of messy notes and beat up looking notebooks that I will draw from to create the more concrete poems.
3. When did you start writing poetry and why did you choose to write poetry over other forms of literature?
I started writing poetry when I was about ten years old. My first poem was about my Cocker Spaniel, Velvet and I really liked how the density of language paired with imagery and line breaks helped me express my own litany of challenging emotions around life that I otherwise struggled to parse. As I got into my teens I remember at the time, the singer Jewel had come out with her collection of poetry A Night Without Armour and I found that there was something so inspiring about how she compiled her thoughts and emotions into this quiet, contemplative book — I knew from the moment I read the first page that it was an art form I would really connect with. I appreciated the duality in the still, reflective act of reading a poem paired with the emotive power behind the words themselves.
4. How would you describe your poetry collection?
This collection is interrogative, hopeful and a bit drunk on its own nostalgia.
5. What advice would you give to aspiring poets?
Advice feels a bit tricky because what works for one person might be inconsequential for another but I guess I’d say stay curious about everything around you. As a poet it’s so easy to stay locked inside your own head but I think when your senses are keen to the people around you and their experiences your work will have a deeper, more meaningful resonance.
6. Are there any poets or poetry collections that you admire?
A few collections I find myself coming back to consistently are:
- Page As Bone—Ink as Blood by Jonina Kirton
- Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith
- Tumour by Evelyn Lau
- Ritual Lights by Joelle Barron
- Where The World Ends and My Body Begins by Amber Dawn
- Stags Leap by Sharon Olds
- Braided Skin by Chelene Knight
6. Does music inspire you when you start writing poetry?
Music is always a pretty important component when I write. When I was deep into this book I listened to a lot of Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, Chastity Belt, Solange. Lots of Sophistipop from the 80’s—I think I listened to "Captain of Her Heart" by Double close to fifty times.
From Gigglepuss: "Waiting for Palliative Care"
I hold your hand and I am witness
to your body’s
rocky choreography in these final moments,
its branch and indigo tributaries
still spanning skin, cobweb fine.
You stroke my hair
while I listen for the thud in your chest,
ear against conch,
pausing for ocean’s hush
whichever comes first.
So what will it be?
or rusted November skyline?
and I pull back to study
the kingdom in your face,
tread firm waters
while we wait
for that soft-spoken doctor from
a black oval
I fall into.
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Carlie Blume was born on the unceded and ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh (Vancouver). She is a 2017 graduate of Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio and the author of Gigglepuss (2022). She currently lives on Salt Spring Island, B.C. with her husband and two children.
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During the month of April, you can buy Gigglepuss and our other featured Poetry Muse books for 15% off + free shipping in Canada with the promo code ALUPOETRYMUSE. Or find them at your local independent bookstore!
Keep up with us all month on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #ALUPoetryMuse. And catch up on the rest of the Poetry Muse series here.
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