Malahat editorial assistant stephen e. leckie talks with Joelle Barron about life since winning the Open Season Award for Poetry in 2014.
Now that your poem "A Girl Like This Might Have Loved Glenn Gould" is a year-old, Open Season prize-winner, how do you feel about your piece?
I still love my poem and am proud of it! Writing contests are such strange, slippery things, and I'm just grateful that I happened to write something that struck the judge's fancy.
I observed a subtle eroticism, albeit a lonely one, in the place names, the body parts, and the changing seasons. How does your speaker's identity reveal itself, in relation to her experience(s)?
This feels like an essay question on a lit exam! My idea for the speaker was that she was caught in this limbo of attraction and admiration for Glenn Gould...she wants to be him, but she hasn't been afforded the same opportunities as he has. She's also attracted to his talent and strangeness, where he sees her as a sort of living artifact. He takes advantage of her, perhaps without realizing it, and when it's all over, she is left in the same place she was before she met him, while he gets to move on.
What inspires you to enter literary contests? Have you submitted to any other contests in the last year?
Money inspires me to enter literary contests. I'm sure all writers can relate.
How has this prize affected your writing practice? Has it allowed you take poetic risks otherwise undreamed of?
I think anytime we, as writers, are acknowledged by our community as being outstanding in some way, it gives us fuel to keep going with what we're doing. I don't think I've taken any "undreamed of" risks, but I've certainly continued to work hard.
What are you currently working on? What are you reading?
I'm currently working on editing the poetry manuscript I wrote as my graduate thesis. I'm also having a lot of fun writing a YA novel with lots of queer characters. I'm always reading a million things at once; right now, the list includes some great works by Roxanne Gay, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Ina May Gaskin, and Anne Carson.
Are there any themes / subjects you would like to add to the 'official' list of Canadiana?I think that Canadiana is less an official list and more a feeling; hard to describe but we're certain we know it when we see it.
stephen e. leckie
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