Toronto Writer Joanna Sworn on Poetry

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Inteview with Toronto Writer Joanna Sworn.

Submitted: November 08, 2007

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Submitted: November 08, 2007

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Toronto writer Joanna Sworn on poetry
Joanna Sworn is a most promisingpoet living in Toronto,sheis publishedin severalChapbooks, and in a book of Short Stories . Joanna is a member of Phoenix Poetry Workshop , MoosemeatShort Fiction Worshop,T-Dot Meet-up Writing Group, …
Rosa: Joanna, tell me about your poetry writing Is it 10% inspiration, 90% effort?Do you like images or are you more a metaphor /simile person?
The poetic impulse is something I enjoy and as I go out and about I meet many people who tell me they too write poetry.The poetic impulse is a worthy companion, it speaks to us in the most friendly way. Some great poets have expressed their deep longings and angers and frustrations, their disappointments and hurts, their wonder at the world and delight in it. Some stay close to the impulse.Others stray and wonder away, enjoying the margins of their feelings, playing with the idea of concepts and abstractions in relation to themselves. The country of poetry is vast, as I say in one poem of mine.But it is an open country, we can go there without passports or documentation of any kind to be harboured and sustained.Agreat place to be.Listening to other people’s experiences of this country is a bit like beingshown holiday snapshots or hearing holiday anecdotes, sort of fun but also at times feeling imposed on. This is where the art comes in. Art and a creative tradition.
Rosa: What do you think is meant by a voice in poetry?
About a voice; it’s like singing, either you have it or you don’t.
Rosa:What makes a voice immediately recognizable, distinctive, and memorable?
Voice is something individual, many different elements give it distinctive twag, and for me it’s the way I use words!
Rosa:: Do youoften find yourself chasing images? And do you think images help convey stronger meanings in poetry?
Images? - I’m not sure … I read because I enjoy it as a creative activity. An interpretative thing.But I have a poet friend who believes that with a more disciplined approach there’s a greater reward. A form of studying I am disinclined to do.
Rosa: Are there times when you feel writing want to take over and control you?
The ear is an interesting place compared to the eye. Eyes take time to process things; the visual field scans and interprets. The ear is faster more immediate mechanism, the brain is less certain of where it fits in the Endeavour but because of that there’s greater emotion reach. Poetry on the page combines a bit of both, its intrinsic music should sound even in the reading while engaging the mind’s eye with its images. Clever counterfeiting huh?
Rosa: Do you think there’s some validity to automatic writing?
Definitely some validity to the Yeats’ automatic writing.Kept him happy with his woman! Interesting stuff too by Jamet Malcolm on Gertrude Stein and her “play” with words.Stein aimed to separate from a certain sort of logic which tends to assume position over these wanton and prevaricating entities. Although it takes a poet to describe them as such. We have this other amazing world.Our world of words.And a strange relation with this other version of everything that is.We make names and they become another focus.The world seems to like it;this capacity of ours; brain growing as it is.
Words are one thing; lines another and living in a world of sloganeering; we, the people of slogan, as much as of the warning call, appreciate carry power.
Rosa: Do you think poets are mostly sad people? If so do you this sadness is dangerous and unhealthy?
Sadness comes with the human condition, it can be a healthy orientation to the world as it is at times but poetry is a quick way to get back to a wealth of magnificence which surrounds us. Poems can be prayers and prayers can be poems.Poetry is a form of prayer, a vital connection to the large.We can get trapped in narrowness; poetry and prayer are good ways to get out.
Rosa: Is solitude important to a poet?
Solitude can be a productive sense of space but it is contrary to the social orientation of the human animal. We’re troop animals and solitude sparks a particular vigilance in us.
That vigilance can be a very creative tool in awareness enhancement but ultimately can
Become debilitating and solipsistic. Some solitude is good but not too much and we need to beware of tendencies to escapism a creative conscious allows.The usual balancing act.I was brought up confined with contemplative order of nuns, admirable mysticism but not one I endorse.
Rosa: Joanna do you think poetry can transform people?
I’m not a “transform “person. I was in a group who were doing “trans-something” poetry.I said” I’m not into the spiritual, great idea, but not ‘me”.I like this idea of opening eyes, and minds.Hearts, too.Oscar Wilde, of course, in inimitable fashion says
“an open mind is like a sewer”, but the sewer is what has made the human ant heap work.
I wonder how ants deal with their wastes- they live in their termite mounds for thousands of years. We need to work on our sewaging.Maybe vegetarianism would be good for our sewage too.But we are a wonder of the animal and I wouldn’t want us to be so different,
there’s a lot in us as it is.
Rosa: Indeed! One final question .Do you wake up in the middle of the night and feel you must write?
No, writing happens when I am awake.
Below you will find copies of two of Joanna’s poems perhaps they could be published in the poetry section of thisautumn’s Events Quarterly.Of course Joanna has given us permission to use them.
Hotel Nights
In the hotel
Noise takes the next room
Makes for itself a stay
Tho’ without pay
Noise bedded down brings in
Sea who with a clap enfolds
Beach and drives hard on her hard
Great shuddering in each gasp
Till with final pound, let loose
Is sound
Noise goes out to fiddle
With the electricity connections
Gets them hummering on wires
Guitar tight for strumming
Then leaves them to crackle
Frustration
Noise has an altercation
With his upstairs neighbour
Hits the roof in noisy bouts
Threatens to unloose in cannonade
A rumble the neighbour’s puny drone
Can oppose only in fading
The whisper
On a turned on TV Noise mimics
Commentator’s cool tones
As language freed of bones
Seeps in some miasma of
Aliveness beneath the door,
Spreads over a floor to
Climb the blanket
And Stifle legs as Noise’s child in a Sleep roar
Echoes a father
By implore
Noise’s cock crows long before dawn
In a fiefdom lament sop Noise clatters
All the pans to wake the family
Then clumps them past in a long line
Of departure, bags rustling a take out Of
Garbage, to grind himself onto the Truck and
take off in town
For the day
Fore Given
Does Summer forgive Winter
When all the richness is spent
Does Monday forgive Tuesday
As follower in sequence pent
Does blue forgive yellow
As together the turn is mellow
Does happiness forgive sorrow
When excess of feeling swings on low
Must deep night forgive broad day
To see shadow come of glow
Can noise forgive silence
As open gives of fence
As opposition finds compliance
Does weakness owe reliance
As wholeness falls to tear
Does cascade race to weir?
….there is no time
to suffer fools gladly
….glad fools or the
gladness fools suffer
….there’s is no time,
Suffering or glad,
to fool.
there’s no suffering,
time or fool
to be glad, fooled or suffered
….there is no fool
who will not suffer time
gladly
there is no fool.


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