Laurie D. Graham

Laurie D. Graham's picture
Photo credit: 
Photo by Jason Graham
Laurie D. Graham grew up in Treaty 6 territory (Sherwood Park, Alberta), and she currently lives in Nogojiwanong, in the treaty and traditional territory of the Mississauga Anishinaabeg (Peterborough, Ontario), where she is a poet, an editor, and the publisher of Brick magazine, a journal of literary non-fiction based in Toronto. Her first book, Rove, is a book-length long poem that attempts to articulate the meaning of home as a descendent of prairie homesteaders. Rove was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for best first book of poetry in Canada. Laurie's second book, Settler Education, addresses the various ways that oppression of Indigenous people by settler society reverberates in the present tense. Settler Education was nominated for Ontario’s Trillium Award for Poetry. A third book will be published by McClelland & Stewart in 2022. Laurie often works with the long poem, the lyric poem, and the found poem.
Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?: 

I got to know Maya Angelou in junior high school after reading her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and I remember both her story and later her verse having a strong effect on me. Her poem “Caged Bird” echoes her autobiography, and I recall liking the musicality of it. I studied music before I studied poetry, so Angelou’s work was a good “gateway” for me:

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.
When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?: 

I’ve been writing poetry for a long time — since childhood — but it wasn't until I got a bit older that I started understanding the stuff I was writing as poetry. I only started thinking of myself as a writer of poetry in my early twenties. That’s when I started getting deliberate about writing.

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

More and more I think the poet’s “job” is to figure out how to live as an invested, attentive, conscientious, sensing being and to take notes while you’re doing that. 

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

Give me any of the Lorna Crozier, the Dionne Brand, the Fred Wah, the Marilyn Dumont, the Allen Ginsberg, the Joy Harjo, the Dennis Lee...

Settler Education
McClelland & Stewart
Dionne Brand
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Hagios Press
Harold Rhenisch
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Poem title(s): 
Stone barn, fuel cloud
Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis
Coach House Books
Kathryn Mockler
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