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DiscoverVerse: Smokii Sumac + you are enough
Transmasculine Ktunaxa poet Smokii Sumac chats with us for ALU DiscoverVerse about his boisterous, touching, and often funny debut collection you are enough: love poems for the end of the world (Kegedonce Press) — which grew from a challenge to write one haiku a day — where he draws inspiration from, three things he’d take with him on his own Choose Your Adventure quest, and more. Read on for that and the titular poem from you are enough, below.
An Interview with Smokii SumacAll Lit Up: What did you learn writing you are enough?Smokii Sumac: I think, for me, there was a difference between the writing the poems (which I did quickly and daily on social media) and compiling/curating the collection that later became the book. I learned, in working on the book, that my work had more depth and connection in it than I had previously thought. I learned how to reconsider my audience, and think about who this book really was for. And, later, I learned how good it can feel when my words reach that audience. 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?SS: I feel like, as an Indigenous person, we are on a quest already (I’m thinking of Cherie Dimaline’s book, the Marrow Thieves as I write this). Our quest is not only survival for us, but for future generations, and for all of our relations. So, if I had to choose three things, I think the things I keep closest to me. They are: 1. Medicines (I know this is more than one thing, but I can’t choose one!) 2. A flint (I was gifted one by an Elder and this reminds me I need to practice using it!) 3. My family. (There’s no way I can get through on my own). ALU: Where do you draw inspiration from outside of poetry?SS: My work is deeply grounded in my life experiences. I am ever-inspired by other 2SQ and Indigenous women artists; Joshua Whitehead, Gwen Benaway, Tenille Campbell, Beth Brant. I am inspired by the full moon. I’m inspired by the soft skin of my lover. By the way my Elders pause to find the right words when they talk, and by the laughter of aunties visiting at kitchen tables. 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?SS: What do you love? Tell me everything about it/them, but remember to keep a little something for yourself.