Writer's Block: Julie Joosten

March 25, 2014

We're getting so close to National Poetry Month I can almost taste it! To tide us over these last few days before it's all poetry, all the time for the entire month of April (can you tell NPM is a big deal at All Lit Up?), we're featuring poet Julie Joosten in this month's Writer's Block. Julie's most recent collection is Light Light, published by Toronto press BookThug.

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We're getting so close to National Poetry Month I can almost taste it! To tide us over these last few days before it's all poetry, all the time for the entire month of April (can you tell NPM is a big deal at All Lit Up?), we're featuring poet Julie Joosten in this month's Writer's Block. Julie's most recent collection is Light Light, published by Toronto press BookThug (You can see her read from Light Light here.)

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The view from Julie's desk.


What do you enjoy reading?

I enjoy reading across genres and disciplines. And I like reading several things at once. Recently I've been reading works on the philosophy of science and on modes of thought and thinking.  

Do you have any rituals that you abide by when you're writing?

My rituals while writing are obliquely enjoying the companionship of my two dogs, listening to music (especially that of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson over the past year), and drinking lots and lots of black tea.

What's the toughest part about being a writer?

For me, it's ensuring that my solitude doesn't become isolation or insularity.

What advice would you give other writers? (Be creative!)

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Have you ever experienced writer's block?  What did you do about it.

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I often experience writer's block. Especially after periods of intensive writing. I guess I don't really think of the non-writing as writer's block exactly; I think of it in the frame of crop rotation; In the Georgics, Virgil writes, "For a crop of flax will burn / the soil, and oats will burn, and poppies, too, / Swimming in Lethean sleep, will burn your land, / But crop rotation will reduce your work, / Only you must not be ashamed to soak / The dried-out soil with rotted, rich manure / And scatter filthy ashes all over / Your tired fields." Periodically, I inhabit a fallow and filthy field!  

What is the most surprising thing about being a writer.

How, moving back and forth and in between the solitude of writing and reading and more social forms of engagement, writers are so regularly generous with their time, care, and thinking about other writers' works -- that of their students, peers, and people they don't even formally know. I think of this as the "most surprising thing" because I am so regularly humbled by and grateful for this generosity. It's my favourite part about being part of a community of writers.

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Julie Joosten lives in Little Italy in Toronto, Ontario. She keeps a vegetable garden and eats an inordinate amount of kale. She has a red bicycle with a yellow basket, which she tries to ride year-round. While walking her dogs, she listens to books on tape. Blue, momentarily, is her favourite colour.

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Thank you to Julie for giving us this behind-the-scenes peek into her writing life, and to the BookThugs for connecting us!

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Edited from the original post, published on the LPG blog


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