Alyssa Cooper

Alyssa Cooper's picture
Photo credit: 
Kingston WritersFest
1990
Biography: 

Alyssa Cooper is a Canadian poet, author, and performer currently living in Kingston, Ontario. Heavily influenced by modern spoken word performers such as Neil Hilborn and Kay Kassirer, her poetic style is modern and lyrical, relying heavily on rhythm, syncopation, and alliteration. Her work addresses sensitive topics such as sexism, rape culture, toxic femininity, mental illness and eating disorders, as well as lighter topics like personal relationships, nostalgia, and environmentalism.

First published in 2008, Alyssa is the author of four novels, a short story collection, and two poetry collections, as well as having had her work included in over fifty magazines, journals, and anthologies, both nationally and internationally. She performs regularly in both Kingston and Toronto. She is also an active member of the Kingston literary community, holding executive positions on the planning committee for the Queens Poetry Slam, the Kingston Poetry Collective, and the Limestone Genre Expo.

Micro-interview: 
Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?: 

In high school, I was in love with the work of nineteenth century French poets, particularly Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud. One poem that has always stuck with me, even as I began to move on from dead French men and toward modern performance poets, is « Je t'adore à l’égal de la voûte nocturne, » by Baudelaire — especially the version translated to English by Laurence Lerner.

When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?: 

I dabbled with writing poetry from a very young age, probably while I was still in grade school, but as a child and teenager I devoted the bulk of my efforts to writing stories and novels. I didn’t truly fall in love with the art of poetry until I was in my early twenties, when I discovered the spoken word scene in Canada. The modern style of spoken word poetry really spoke to me, and inspired me to develop my own voice.

What do you think a poet’s “job” is?: 

I think that a poet's most important job is honesty, both in their work and outside of it.

In their work, a poet must write honestly about the themes that they chose to address and explore. A poet's voice can be a powerful thing, and I think that it's important to use that voice truthfully, to create an accurate representation of the world — even if the world you're representing isn't necesarily real.

Outside of their work, a poet must speak honestly to their readers, especailly to the younger generation of poets who may be looking to them for guidance.

If you had to choose one poem to memorize from our anthology, which one would it be?: 

If I could only choose one, it would have to be “Wolf Lake” by Elizabeth Bachinsky.

This piece has the modern free-verse style that lends itself well to my performance style, so it has a certain sense of familiarity — but the subject matter is fictional, completely different from what my performances usually touch on. I think it would be really interesting to get into the mind of her narrator, and allow that character to guide my recitation.

Publications: 
Title: 
Cold Breath of Life
Publisher: 
Hidden Brook Press
Editors: 
Bruce Kauffman
Date: 
October 2013
Publication type: 
Book
Title: 
Unlike Icarus
Publisher: 
Thee Hellbox Press
Editors: 
Hugh Barclay
Date: 
March 2017
Publication type: 
Book
Poem title(s): 
Things my mother doesn't know
Title: 
Cat on a Leash Review, Vol. 1
Publisher: 
Chicago Literary Writers
Editors: 
Dianne D. Dillette and A.A. Malina
Date: 
February 2017
Publication type: 
Periodical/Magazine