Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Desi Di Nardo

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Ten Questions with Desi Di Nardo

How refreshing to find a writer so unabashedly poetic as Desi Di Nardo. In a world of politicized screeching and lament, one is reminded of Pablo Neruda's definition of art as that which "gives people hope". By that definition Di Nardo stands head and shoulders above the mob of academic sirens and macho wailers. A poetry to be thankful for.
—Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, Toronto Poet Laureate

Desi Di Nardo is a poet and author in Toronto whose work has been published in numerous North American and international journals and anthologies. Her poetry has been performed at the National Arts Centre, featured in Poetry on the Way on the TTC, and displayed in the Official Residences of Canada. She has also worked as an English professor and Writer-in-Residence. Desi Di Nardo is the author of The Plural of Some Things published by Guernica Editions. Visit: www.desidinardo.com.

UPDATE! (April 15, 2009): Listen to Desi di Nardo read from her new collection here.

OBT:

Tell us about your new book, The Plural of Some Things.

DDN:

The poems in The Plural of Some Things were written over a seven year period and touch on many topics and issues but there are common themes connected to nature and the interrelatedness of all life forms. I’m fascinated by the various kinds of interactions, whether among humans, animals, or between different species. There’s a need, or you might even say, an urgency to explore those intricate dealings and interactions between humankind and the environment and the relationship between the two.

OBT:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote The Plural of Some Things?

DDN:

No, I don’t believe I knowingly write with an intended audience in mind. Writing poetry for me is a highly unconscious and, at times, enigmatic process so I suspect when I am writing about topics which touch on the human experience or the human condition, I’m somehow connecting to different people from various age brackets and backgrounds without being cognizant of who I might be affecting or touching.

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

DDN:

It usually depends on my frame of mind but I find I mostly do my finest writing when I have perfect quietude. I prefer the outdoors, whether that involves sitting in my backyard surrounded by the greenery of cedars and junipers and the prattling cicadas in treetops, trekking through protected wetlands in southern Ontario, or canoeing over the shoals of Lake Simcoe — I thrive when I’m in a natural environment away from the ongoing drone of pedestrian and automobile bustle.

OBT:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

DDN:

I’m glad you limited it only to three! Any one of Alice Munro’s short story collections, hands down. Of course, there’s Susanna Moodie’s Roughing It in the Bush and I would also include Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock.

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

DDN:

At the moment I am fully engaged in Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a beautifully told story, with a cast of compelling characters and a plotline that unfolds during the Nigeria-Biafra War.

OBT:

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

DDN:

During my studies at the University of Toronto, I considered a Ph.D. in English. I went to speak to a professor and told him of my intentions to eventually teach and simultaneously write. His reply was candidly honest and somewhat unexpected actually. He replied, if you intend to write, to really write, do not bother with teaching or Ph.Ds. That counsel turned out to be invaluable advice for me.

OBT:

Describe the most memorable response you’ve received from a reader.

DDN:

I remember hosting a poetry workshop at a local Toronto library where an adult audience member leapt up excitedly from her chair, turned to the head librarian and demanded I conduct regular workshops there. Aside from being flattered, it was very rewarding to see someone outrightly enthused about poetry and to know that individual was connecting so profoundly with my poems. I believe poetry, and all literature for that matter, has the power to influence any and all people in society.

OBT:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

DDN:

What is key, for any writer aspiring to be published, is developing and honing a style and voice that is unique and authentic. I would say, read profusely, write whenever you get the chance, and perhaps even more importantly, do not give up. Just because one publisher may turn you down, doesn’t necessarily mean your writing is not good quality or interesting or worth publishing. Remember, writing, particularly poetry, is an art form that is highly biased.

OBT:

Which books made a great impression on you when you were a child?

DDN:

When I was about eleven I read Wuthering Heights and was instantly entranced after the first couple pages. I recall a camping trip with my family where I toted the book around the whole time. It lured me in so intensely that I had to be pried out of the tent in order to go swimming, tree climbing, or frog chasing — activities I rather relished. I remember reading with rapt admiration, utterly impressed with Brontë’s character building and the intensity of the storyline.

OBT:

Describe your writing process.

DDN:

I find writing to be a challenging and oftentimes contradicting process. It demands the rigidity and discipline of setting aside writing time, avoiding distractions, and dedicating time to the craft. And yet, it also requires the freedom to allow your creativity to steer you and flourish. I don’t think I’ve completely figured out the proper combination for the two but I do know that my best writing occurs when the words come freely, either due to my surroundings or my overall state of mind.


For more information about Desi Di Nardo’s The Plural of Some Things, visit the her website at www.desidinardo.com.

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