Laurie D. Graham
Laurie D. Graham comes from Treaty 6 territory (Sherwood Park, Alberta), and she now lives within the Rice Lake Purchase (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, centres on the Frog Lake Massacre and 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. Laurie often works with the long poem, the lyric poem, and the found poem.
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:
I’ve been writing poetry for a long time — since childhood — but it was’'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.
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.
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...