DiscoverVerse: Sadiqa de Meijer + The Outer Wards

Sadiqa de Meijer takes on the ALU DiscoverVerse today to discuss her book The Outer Wards (Véhicule Press), a collection about maternal love and duty and finding new frontiers of language to convey sense of powerlessness as a mother facing illness. Sadiqa shares more with us about knowing the boundaries of her work, of outer worlds, and using what is closest to her physically or from the past to inspire her poetry. Plus, read on for a poem from the collection!


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During the month of April, you can buy any of our featured  DiscoverVerse books for 20% off (+ we’ll send you a set of three poetry bookmarks so you’ll always find your place.) 

Interview with Sadiqa de Meijer

All Lit Up: What did you learn writing The Outer Wards?Sadiqa De Meijer: I learned not to overwork the poems. Of course they still went through drafts and iterations, but I tried to edit more receptively than interventionally, with a sense of trust in the poems becoming themselves.ALU:  If you were a character in a Choose Your Own Adventure story, what kind of quest would you be on? What three things would you have with you on your journey?SDM: I guess I’d be looking for the boundaries between worlds. I’d bring a thermos of chai, a raincoat, and the complete works of Etty Hillesum. If I was permitted a companion, I’d ask Frieda Berlin from Orange is the New Black. Her skills could avert disaster. ALU:  Where do you draw inspiration from outside of poetry?SDM: As far as other art forms go, I love drawings,  paintings, and dance shows. Thematically, I’m inclined to examine what is close to me, literally or in terms of past and ancestry—body, home, neighbourhood, languages and landscapes of origin. ALU:  Help us with a poetry prompt for our readers. Can you come up with a writing prompt for our readers to write their own poetry?SDM: When I have no ideas but want to write, I sometimes assemble a found poem. If you want to try this, I recommend finding an interview that you really like—it can be an artist profile or a news feature or another format; what matters is that the material fascinates you. Lift your favourite phrases from the answers to create your poem—listening to how they sound, seeing how their meanings interact. You can leave the lines long or break them into stanzas. This exercise allows you to distill whatever it was that gripped you—which can fuel further writing— and because it uses another’s voice, your sense of phrasing and language will bend.

A poem fromThe Outer Wards

On Industry I’ve sensed sunrise at my pillow’s edge,groped for shaded glasses.Held my child.I’ve blessed her day. And I have been supine and muteuntil the hours were spun wool, have waited still,then lifted leaden feet,traversed the room, for the sakeof movement itself, the gesture that refusesto forsake. I’ve contemplatedsilver flecks that float in turmeric and honey tea.I have collected supper at my door.Crept into bed,then held my child again,archaically tired and pleased somehow,like one who has pushed beans into the ground all day,and knows it could rain or not rain.

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Sadiqa de Meijer’s first collection of poems, ‘Leaving Howe Island’, was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. A portion of the manuscript won the CBC Poetry Prize. Her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in a range of journals and anthologies, including POETRY, BRICK, The Walrus, The New Quarterly, The Next Wave (Palimpsest Press) and the Best of Canadian Poetry series (Biblioasis). Her writing often explores themes of place, belonging, motherhood, race, and spirituality.

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 During the month of April, you can buyThe Outer Wardsand any of our featured DiscoverVerse books for 20% off! PLUS: FREE shipping!Keep up with us all month on  Twitter,  Instagram, and  Facebook with the hashtag #ALUdiscoververse. BONUS:Play our Choose Your Own Poetry game where YOU are the narrator! Choose from multiple paths on the way to one ultimate goal: visiting your local bookstore to browse poetry. As you move through the story you will find poetry books to collect in your tote bag. There are a total of 36 poetry books to discover across the various paths with 12 possible endings. Which poetry collections will you find on your path?Playing time: 1-2 minutes per path. To play, click the link below to start the download. DiscoverVerse: Choose Your Own Poetry Game