Mary di Michele

Mary di Michele's picture
b. 1949
Biography: 

Poet and novelist Mary di Michele is the author of over 12 books, including selected poems, Stranger in You, and the novel, Tenor of Love. Her awards include the CBC Literary Prize, the Confederation Poets Prize, and the Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize. Luminous Emergencies was short-listed for the Trillium Book Award; Debriefing the Rose and The Flower of Youth for the A.M. Klein Prize. She is part of the writing group Yoko’s Dogs with Jane Munro, Susan Gillis, and Jan Conn. Her latest collection of poetry, Bicycle Thieves, was published with ECW in 2017 and short-listed for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Mary lives in Montreal and teaches at Concordia.

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 fell in love with poetry at an earlier age, in grade school, teacher was surprised that I loved the memorization & recitation task we were assigned. Keats’s “La Belle Dame sans Merci” and poetry has held me enthralled ever since I read the poem.

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

I started to write poems in high school; I did not think of myself as a poet until my poems started to be published in journals in the seventies.

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

I think of it as a vocation like a priest’s, not a job, to study and celebrate and perhaps even proselytize for poetry.

If you have a poem in our anthology what inspired you to write it?: 

I was visiting a museum in Greece when I saw the statute of a satyr sleeping on a wine flask. I thought how different it was from the torso of Apollo that Rilke describes in his poem that ends “you must change your life”. I think my poem suggests life changes you if you do not heed that call. Or it changes you anyway.

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

That’s a hard choice, there are so many I would love to “know by heart” and some I already do. I love languages in poems so am very tempted by Gregory Scofield's “I’ll Teach You Cree” but it’s hard to resist P.K. Page’s brilliant “The Blue Guitar” as the glosa gives you a bit of Stevens too.

Publications: 
Title: 
Bicycle Thieves
Publisher: 
ECW Press
Date: 
2017
Publication type: 
Book
Title: 
Stranger in You, Poems Selected and New
Publisher: 
Oxford University Press
Date: 
1995
Publication type: 
Book
Title: 
Luminous Emergencies
Publisher: 
M&S
Date: 
1990
Publication type: 
Book