Annick MacAskill is a poet and translator based in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), Nova Scotia, the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq. Her debut poetry collection, No Meeting Without Body, was published by Gaspereau Press in 2018, and was selected as a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the J.M. Abraham Award. Her second collection, Murmurations, was published by Gaspereau in the spring of 2020. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies across Canada and abroad, including Arc, Plenitude, Room, The Stinging Fly, Canthius, and Best Canadian Poetry 2019. She writes lyric poetry and has a long-standing interest in practices of translation and re-writing. Among her influences she counts Sappho, Ovid, Catullus, Agrippa d'Aubigné, Louise Glück, Don Mee Choi, and Karen Solie.
I read a lot of poetry in high school! I was quite taken with my mother's tattered copy of Poets of Contemporary Canada, an anthology edited by Eli Mandel, which contained pieces by folks like Michael Ondaatje, Leonard Cohen, and Gwendolyn MacEwan. I read whatever classics I could find around me, like Shakespeare and Whitman, but I was most taken with the poetry of Evelyn Lau, an author I discovered at the local public library. I was a big fan of her collections Oedipal Dreams and In the House of Slaves.
I first started writing poetry as a child, around the age of seven or eight. I started thinking of myself as a poet in high school. My confidence grew thanks to an encouraging teacher.
I think a poet's job is to compose (write/sing/speak) poetry. I'm not keen to define that further.
I like to memorize poems that make for good company. If I'm waiting for the bus, or a friend, or a meeting, it's nice to have something familiar to turn over in my head. For that reason, I'd say Souvankham Thammavongsa's "Gayatri," because it's about friendship, but also because of the way I can feel my mind expanding when I consider Thammavongsa's lines. She's a master of perspective. In your French anthology, I'd pick "Liberté" by Paul Éluard, because it's about solitude and resilience, and because of its lovely use of anaphora.