Joanne Epp

Joanne Epp's picture
Photo credit: 
Anthony Mark Schellenberg
Biography: 

Joanne Epp's poetry appears in Heartwood: Poems for the Love of Trees (ed. Lesley Strutt) as well as in Prairie Fire, The New Quarterly, Lemon Hound, Geez, and other magazines. She won second place in the 2017 Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest, and third place in the 2018 Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Contest. Her first poetry collection, Eigenheim (Turnstone Press, 2015), explores ideas of home, memory and longing. Her work is influenced by poets such as Anne Szumigalski, Alice Major, and Sarah Klassen, and by prairie and boreal landscapes. Born and raised in small Saskatchewan towns, she spent several years in Ontario and now makes her home in Winnipeg.

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?: 

I did read poetry in high school — we didn't get much of it in school, but the poems we did read made an impression on me. A poem I particularly liked, and the one I remember best from high school, is “Leisure” by W.H.Davies. I liked it, not just because I found the lines “No time to stand beneath the boughs/ And stare as long as sheep or cows” rather funny, but because I thought the poet got it right: it is important to “stand and stare,” to take time to notice what's around us.

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

I wrote my first poem when I was eight, and wrote a handful of poems during my school years. It wasn't until I was twenty that I decided I wanted to do more of this — there was a definite moment when that happened, and then another moment, a couple of years later, when I decided to take poetry seriously and learn how to write better. It took a long time to get from “I write a bit” to “I’m a writer,” and I’m not sure when it happened. Having my first poems published in a journal was very encouraging, but still didn’t give me the nerve to say “I’m a poet” out loud. The turning point may have been around the time I started getting book reviews published, or when I was accepted into a mentorship program; either way, it came after I'd been writing for a long time.

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

Attentiveness is a big part of a poet's work. I approach poetry as a way of expressing and giving shape to what I encounter in the world, and so, while a love of language is essential, poetry also has to come out of a love for the world.

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

Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I like it for the sheer pleasure of its sounds, and for the way it describes things the poet observes in the natural world — things I've seen, and noticed with pleasure, but would not have thought to describe in quite this way.

Publications: 
Poem title(s): 
"Stopped in the Qu’Appelle Valley”
Title: 
The New Quarterly
Editors: 
Pamela Mulloy (editor), Barbara Carter (lead poetry editor)
Date: 
Summer 2019
Publication type: 
Periodical/Magazine
Title: 
Eigenheim
Publisher: 
Turnstone Press
Date: 
2015
Publication type: 
Book
Poem title(s): 
"In the dome car”
Title: 
Prairie Fire
Editors: 
Andris Taskans (editor); Barbara Schott & Lindsey Childs (poetry editors)
Date: 
Summer 2019
Publication type: 
Periodical/Magazine