Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Jan Conn

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Ten Questions with Jan Conn

Jan Conn will read from her latest book, Botero's Beautiful Horses (Brick Books), on September 15th at The Art Bar Poetry Series. See our events page for details.

Open Book: Toronto:

Tell us about your latest book.

Jan Conn:

Botero’s Beautiful Horses begins with the section "The Light of Poinsettias," which is contemporary Mexican poems and a Venezuelan poem, "Angel Falls." The next section, "Cosmological," features several early Mexican cultures, beginning with the Zapotecs and ending with the Aztecs. Blunted Gold is less focused geographically, and more surreal, and includes poems for statisticians, Billy the Kid obsessives, Buddy Bolden fans, a rather harrowing poem written from inside a Spanish insane asylum in 1941 and a poem that takes place on Mars. "Amazonia" is a record of various Brazilian and a Suriname adventure and includes the poems that won second prize in the CBC literary awards in 2003. The last two sections, "Absolute Love" and "Harmonium" are my reactions to the life and times, paintings and writings of the exceptional Spanish-Mexican surrealist artist, Remedios Varo.

OBT:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

JC:

People who think they don’t like poetry.

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

JC:

I travel frequently so I have trained myself to write everywhere: planes, trains, airports, museums, hotel rooms, hammocks and cars.

OBT:

What was your first publication?

JC:

Four poems published in Quarry, when Bronwen Wallace was the poetry editor, sometime in the previous century.

OBT:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

JC:

In Calgary in May, 2009, three experiences affected my writing: a stroll along the banks of the Bow River, a drawing from a show by Quebec artist Sylvie Jodoin that I saw in an art gallery and a visit to the Glenbow Museum where I was overwhelmed by the astounding and poignant sculptures of Joe Fafard. The poem is still under construction.

OBT:

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

JC:

Robert Bringhurst, The Tree of Meaning; Anne Carson, Short Talks; and John Thompson, Collected Poems and Translations. If you asked me tomorrow I would recommend an entirely different list.

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

JC:

The American artist, Jenny Holzer, texts from various shows such as: Truisms, Inflammatory Essays, Laments.

OBT:

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

JC:

Read more widely, zanily, in English and in translation, and go deeper.

OBT:

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

JC:

Be passionate and rewrite. And rewrite.

OBT:

What is your next project?

JC:

I’ve invented an alternative persona. She’s a bit wicked, a bit wild. She’s a risk-taker. She’s fringe.


Jan Conn’s most recent book of poetry is Botero’s Beautiful Horses (Brick Books, 2009). Other books include Jaguar Rain: the Margaret Mee Poems (Brick Books, 2006) and Beauties on Mad River: Selected and New Poems (Vehicule Press, 2000). Her work is included in How the Light Gets In: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry from Canada, ed. J. Innis, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland, 2009 and in Regreen, New Canadian Ecological Poetry, ed. M. Anand, A. Dickinson, Your Scrivener Press, Sudbury, 2009. Her poem, "Space is a Temporal Concept," is forthcoming in the Best Canadian Poetry in English Anthology, ed. A.F. Moritz, 2009. She won the inaugural (2006) Malahat Review PK Page Founders’ Award Poetry Prize and a CBC Literary Award for poetry (2003). She lives in Great Barrington, MA, and is a research scientist who works on the ecology and evolution of insects that transmit pathogens to humans. Her research takes her to Latin America frequently. Visit her website at www.janconn.com.

For more information about Botero's Beautiful Horses please visit the Brick Books website.


Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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