Ariel Gordon is a Winnipeg-based writer. She is the author of two collections of urban-nature poetry, both of which won the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry. She is the ringleader of Writes of Spring, a National Poetry Month project with the Winnipeg International Writers Festival that appears in the Winnipeg Free Press. Gordon co edited, with Tanis MacDonald and Rosanna Deerchild, the anthology GUSH: menstrual manifestos for our times (Frontenac House, 2018). 2019 saw the publication of Treed: Walking in Canada’s Urban Forests (Wolsak & Wynn, 2019), a collection of essays that combines science writing and the personal essay. It received an honourable mention for the 2020 Alanna Bondar Memorial Book Prize for Environmental Humanities and Creative Writing and was shortlisted for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award at the Manitoba Book Awards. In the spring and summer of 2020, she collaborated on a chapbook with her sister, the visual artist Natalie Baird, called Pandemic Papers: Phase One (At Bay Press, 2020). Her most recent book is TreeTalk (At Bay Press, fall 2020), a public poetry project where Ariel hangs poems in trees and asks passersby to add their thoughts, ideas, and secrets. It is the first book in the TreeTalk series.
I read poetry in my English classes but in my own time, preferred terrible teen romances and excellent fantasy novels by Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Frank Herbert, and Dave Duncan. That said, I was reared on the poetry of Shel Silverstein and Dennis Lee and the good lyrics/bad banter of Stan Rogers.
I started writing poetry in first year university after spending my teen years writing a fantasy novel. I was working at the student newspaper The Uniter and studying English lit with poet Deborah Schnitzer when I took something that I thought was fiction to writer-in-residence Dave Margoshes. He read my work and said, “Are you sure this isn't a poem?” Though there were many other steps in the process of writing and publishing poems — studying creative writing with Catherine Hunter, working as a summer student at Prairie Fire, volunteering at Zygote Magazine — but I think that moment in Dave's office was when I started thinking of myself as a poet.
I think a poet's job is to go out into the world and send dispatches back to her readers.
I'm not great at memorization; even after multiple readings of my own work, I'm usually only three-quarters off-book. But if I had to memorize something, I would attempt Kevin Connolly's "Plenty."