Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Poets in Profile: Jen Currin

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Jen Currin

National Poetry Month is just around the corner and we can't wait to celebrate fantastic poetry by talented Canadian writers. We're getting started early with acclaimed poet Jen Currin, whose fourth collection, School, is fresh off the presses at Coach House Books.

You can catch Jen in person, along with a bevy of other fantastic Coach House poets, at the press' spring poetry launch on Thursday, April 3, 2014 at the Garrison (1197 Dundas St. West) in Toronto.

Today we speak with Jen as part of our following our Poets in Profile series, and Jen tells us about a childhood full of books, the unexpected gifts in student essays and recycling poems.

Open Book:

Can you describe an experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a poet?

Jen Currin:

Here's three: Having a mom who wrote and read. Growing up in a house full of books and music. Reading the bible as a child.


What is the first poem you remember being affected by?


I remember reading poetry in elementary school, and also at home as kid, but don't remember any titles or authors. The first poem I remember that deeply affected me as a young adult was Wallace Stevens's "The Emperor of Ice Cream," which I read in a first year literature class at Emerson College.


What one poem — from any time period — do you wish you had been the one to write?


Any poem by Rumi.


What has been your most unlikely source of inspiration?


Grading student essays, strangely enough. Their good sentences and their bad sentences that make me laugh.


What do you do when a poem is not working?


I write the lines I like in my notebook and then I recycle the poem. Or, I put it in a folder marked "poem drafts" where it will stay untouched for years.


What was the last book of poetry that really knocked your socks off?


Raptus by Joanna Klink.


What is the best thing about being a poet….and what is the worst?


The best thing about being a poet is writing poetry. The worst is having people on planes and trains ask you how you make money after you tell them you're a poet.

Jen Currin has published three previous collections of poetry: The Sleep of Four Cities (Anvil Press, 2005), Hagiography (Coach House, 2008) and The Inquisition Yours (Coach House, 2010), which was a finalist for the Relit Award, the Dorothy Livesay Award, and a Lambda, and won the 2011 Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry. She currently lives in Vancouver, where she teaches creative writing at Kwantlen University and English at Vancouver Community College.

For more information about School please visit the Coach House Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore.

Check out all the Poets in Profile interviews in our archives.

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