Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with Kim Trainor

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Kim Trainor

Kim Trainor's Karyotype (Brick Books) lives up to its arresting cover image, exploring in its title poem the imagined history of Loulan, a woman who lived four thousand years ago and whose preserved body was found in the sands of the Taklamakan Desert.

A collection that ranges from the minutiae of DNA to the enormity of the firebombing of the National Library of Sarajevo, Karyotype takes its readers from Montreal to Chinese deserts and back, ruminating on beauty, survival and violence. Don McKay called the collection, which is Kim's debut, "a crucial text in the work of reimagining what it is to be human".

Today we speak to Kim as part of our Dirty Dozen series, where we ask writers to share twelve unexpected facts about themselves.

Kim tells us why we want her beside us on our next long bike ride, what she's reading since she stopped reading fiction and the cozy family memories that trained her to love country music.

  1. I can't spell.
  2. Our mom put me and my sister into a five-pin bowling league when we were around 11 and 12 years old, at the Fraser Bowling Lanes in Vancouver. I won a trophy for most improved bowler.
  3. I love bikes. I spent part of the summer stripping and rebuilding my Apollo road bike, with lots of help from UBC's Bike Kitchen (thanks Pablo!!!). My favourite part was taking apart and cleaning the rear derailleur, a Shimano Deore derailleur from about 1982. The jockey wheels fit back together like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.
  4. For some reason I can no longer read fiction, so I read mostly poetry, travel writing, and theory. I recommend Dervla Murphy's Full Tilt: From Ireland to India with a Bicycle: "On a bicycle called Roz, Dervla Murphy dared to do what most girls....would dismiss as impossibly chancy."
  5. I skipped most of my undergraduate classes so I could hang out in CiTR, UBC's student-run radio station.
  6. My daughter was born on my birthday.
  7. I have no sense of direction, and always go the wrong way. It isn't possible to anticipate this, by choosing a direction as usual and then deliberately going the opposite way. It will still be the wrong way.
  8. One summer I worked as an office temp in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Aboriginal Division.
  9. Friday nights my sister and I often stayed at our grandma's boarding house, drinking ice cream floats and watching Dallas. We'd fall asleep to the sound of country music playing all night on the transistor radio in the kitchen. I still love old country.
  10. My family always had budgies for pets because I'm allergic to dogs. Their names were Stanley, Stanley (in memoriam), Pepper, and Basil.
  11. This is about the 6th or 7th time I've written this list. I start to panic around item 8, have an existential crisis, stop writing, and then somehow, possibly deliberately, misplace my notes.
  12. I tap danced in the Commodore Ballroom when I was six, in a white sequin-studded tutu.


Kim Trainor began writing poetry in the spring of 2009. Over the years she has worked at a campus radio station, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, a biomedical library, and is currently a sessional lecturer at UBC. Her poetry has won the Gustafson Prize and the Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, and has appeared in the 2013 Global Poetry Anthology and The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2014. She lives in Vancouver. Karyotype is her first poetry collection.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

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