Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Susan, a lesson in awesomeness (part 3 & 4)

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As some of you may have suspected I am a dedicated Susanphile. So much so, that I’m currently in the midst of editing a new anthology: Desperately Seeking Susans, which will only contain Canadians named Susan (or reasonable variant thereof). As much as I loved Susans, before I began editing the anthology, my knowledge of Canadian poets named Susan wasn’t exhaustive. Among the Susans I discovered in the process of my research were Susan Ioannou and Susan Telfer. Susan Ioannou is a wonderfully talented and prodigious Susan who already has many books, while Susan Telfer is a relatively new voice whose beautiful first book House Beneath was published in 2009.

I hope you enjoy these Susans as much as I do!

Susan Ioannou

1) What makes you so awesome?
The question should be instead: “What makes the Muse so awesome?” She is a harsh taskmistress, who demands a poet kneel at her feet.

2) What inspires you to write when you’re feeling stuck?
Anything that sparks my imagination or stirs deep feeling—an oddity, a memory, a strain of music, a quirk of science, conjunctions—I am wide open.

3) What fascinates you?
The mysteries of existence.

4) What poem do you wish you had written? Why?
A perfect poem that is sensuously rich, musical, and profound. I would hope it has enduring meaning for someone.

5) What do you wish you had known when you started writing?
Nothing. The endless journey itself of discovering how to write poetry is what fulfills me.

6) What’s your best joke?
That I can never remember the punch line.

Susan Ioannou is a Toronto poet, who also writes literary essays and fiction. Her poetry books include Coming Home: An Old Love Story (Leaf Press) and Looking Through Stone: Poems about the Earth (Your Scrivener Press), and the guide A Magical Clockwork: The Art of Writing the Poem (Wordwrights Canada).

Susan Telfer
1)What makes you so awesome?

I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world and lots of awesome pies, including pecan, chocolate, blueberry, blackberry, apple and peach.

2) What inspires you to write when you’re feeling stuck?
Yoga, going for a walk, playing with poetry magnets, free-fall journaling, naps, long weekends, reading my favourite poetry, or hearing Time's winged chariot hurrying near my back.

3) What fascinates you?
How to make a house cozy; how each room of the house is like a stanza in the poem of my home.

4) What poem do you wish you had written? Why?

"Dark Pines Under Water" by Gwendolyn MacEwen because I wish I could rhyme deeper and sleeper and still sound profound and scary.

5) What do you wish you had known when you started writing?
I wish I had had more confidence in the voice of inspiration within and not doubted it so much. Also, I wish I'd known that some poems take years and not to feel frustrated by that fact.

6) What’s your best joke?

I am not a humourless person; in fact, I often make others laugh with my situational comments. However, I don't have a lot of good set jokes memorized, which I know I should. I do have a fondness for chemistry jokes, though, and here is one my niece told this weekend: "What did the chemist say when, in the lab, she found two helium atoms together? HeHe."

Susan Telfer's first book, House Beneath, was published by Hagios Press in September, 2009 and selected as one of the top ten books of the year by the literary blog picklemethis.com, and is on the 49th Shelf list of The New Generation of Canadian Poets. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Sunshine Coast Arts Council’s Gillian Lowndes Award. She teaches English in Sechelt and lives in Gibsons, B.C. with her family.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Sarah Tsiang

Sarah Tsiang is the author of A Flock of Shoes (Annick Press, 2010), Sweet Devilry (Oolichan Books, 2011), Dogs Don’t Eat Jam and Other Things Big Kids Know (Annick Press, 2011) and Warriors and Wailers: 100 Ancient Chinese Jobs You Might Have Relished or Reviled (Annick Press, 2012). Her latest picture book, Stone Hatchlings, will be released in fall, 2012.

Go to Sarah Tsiang’s Author Page