Poets Resist: Katherine Leyton

Katherine Leyton’s debut poetry collection All the Gold Hurts My Mouth (Goose Lane Editions) is a perfect end to #poetsresist: it examines sexual politics through the 21st century lens of ever-present communication technology. Her raw-yet-gorgeous poetics are a view into what poetry as resistance can look like as we strike back, and move ahead.

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This year we feel everyone could see a little more solidarity and community, so we’re getting poetically political with Poets Resist, a series dedicated to poetry as a form of resistance. Every day on the blog we will feature a poet whose work explores one of these topics: colonialism and violence, homophobia and transphobia, environmental destruction, and/or the !@#$% patriarchy.Katherine Leyton’s debut poetry collection All the Gold Hurts My Mouth (Goose Lane Editions) is a perfect end to #poetsresist: it examines sexual politics through the 21st century lens of ever-present communication technology. Her raw-yet-gorgeous poetics are a view into what poetry as resistance can look like as we strike back, and move ahead.
ALU: What are some books that inspired or informed All the Gold Hurts My Mouth?KL: It’s hard to pinpoint which books had a direct influence on All the Gold Hurts My Mouth, but the work of a number of poets has certainly informed and inspired my development and goals as a poet over the years, including Louise Glück, Adrienne Rich, Anne Carson, Eileen Myles, Claudia Rankine, Michael Burkard, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and Raymond Carver. I’m very inspired by work that pushes the boundaries of traditional poetic form (Carson, Rankine, Myles), by women who write with such force it makes you lose your breath (Rich, Plath, Sexton, Rankine), by poems written in incredibly direct and conversational style (Carver, Burkard, Rankine), as well as by work that is spare and detached without sacrificing emotional impact on the reader (Glück).ALU: If you were protesting the patriarchy, what would your protest sign read?KL: Our bodies don’t belong to you.ALU: Why did you write this collection?KL: For as long as I can remember, I have been highly disturbed by harmful representations of and behaviour towards women that are considered perfectly normal. It is the rage I feel on a daily basis over our acceptance of these behaviours and portrayals that has always compelled me to write. I couldn’t have not written this book; it was partly a selfish coping mechanism, partly an attempt to reach out to other individuals who might feel this way, partly a (possibly deluded) attempt to open people’s eyes to the potential damage caused by what we consider normal, and partly a confession of my own participation in behaviours that cause damage to myself and other women.ALU: What does poetry as resistance mean to you? KL: For me, poetry of resistance means that act of writing against or outside of oppressive systems, traditions or behaviours. It is work that exposes or questions oppression, or work by voices that have traditionally been oppressed.* * *
Katherine Leyton was the inaugural writer-in-residence at the Al & Eurithe Purdy A-Frame in the summer of 2014. Her poetry and non-fiction have appeared in numerous publications, including the Malahat ReviewHazlitt, the Globe and Mail, and the Edinburgh Review. She is also the founder of the highly unorthodox video poetry blog, HowPedestrian.ca. A native of Toronto, Leyton has lived in Rome, Montreal, Edinburgh, and Forli.Photo by Kali’i Dixon.* * *This is it – our final #poetsresist feature. Buy All the Gold Hurts My Mouth or any of our other featured poetry month collections and get a Poets Resist pack of a patch and buttons to wear to your next protest. And if you need some more resistance poetry inspiration, check out our poetry bot!Keep up with us all month on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #poetsresist.