Puneet Dutt

Puneet Dutt's picture
Biography: 

Puneet Dutt’s collection The Better Monsters (Mansfield Press, 2017) was a Finalist for the 2018 Trillium Book Award For Poetry, was shortlisted for the 2018 Raymond Souster Award, and was named one of “Ontario’s Best Books” in 2018 by NOW Magazine. Her poems have appeared in Canadian Literature, World Literature Today, and in the anthology Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. Her chapbook PTSD south beach was a Finalist for the Breitling Chapbook Prize. She holds a MA in English from Ryerson University. Much of Dutt's poetry contains elements of narrative, interweaving elements of journalism, news, history, and is in dialogue with and can be read alongside other literary works, such as theory. Her subjects are often historical figures or events that have been largely left out of history textbooks. Themes of immigration, alienation, war, cultural memory, history, and violence often surface in her work.

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?: 

Yes. “The Cinnamon Peeler” by Michael Ondaatje. What was striking about this poem was the power of utilizing all five senses to really read and know it. It draws not only your eyes to the delicious language, but taste, touch, scent, and sound are heightened as well. It changed the way I thought of and read poetry as a teenager. It was like a complete film in a mini form, so compact with a beginning middle and end. And of course, it shows how sex and love can be written about without being crass or sappy, but with an elegance, and realness.

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

I always scribbled poetry, ever since I can remember. It wasn’t until 2013 that I started thinking about sending work in to be published and build towards a larger body of work for a manuscript. I started thinking of myself as a poet after my first poem publication.

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

I think the job of a poet is a micro-perspective on the minute often overlooked slivers and instances of a lived experience through language and form we don’t necessarily use on a daily basis for utility. It’s a special role of non-utilitarian communication to reveal what has slipped through our fingers and notice.

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

Aisha Sasha John’s “Regardless” reads like an anthem or song, so relatable to so many of us. It's something that can be and should be memorized, but is equally wonderful to be shared aloud as she is a performance poet. It has a wonderful lesson in it as well, that despite all of our flaws, and any mistakes or circumstances, we all are struggling to live and survive, and that is ultimately real life. It's so gritty and real, and hides nothing. It's a new voice in Canada, and makes the reader think outside-of-the-box from their ideas of what they think 'poetry' is. And the tonal repetition of “If” is so powerful as well, the refrain is like a fight and defence in itself.

Publications: 
Title: 
The Better Monsters
Publisher: 
Mansfield Press
Editors: 
Denis De Klerck
Date: 
2018
Publication type: 
Book
Title: 
PTSD south beach
Publisher: 
Grey Borders Books
Editors: 
Jordan Fry
Date: 
2016
Publication type: 
Book
Poem title(s): 
Brains, Brains, Brains
Title: 
Best Canadian Speculative Writing
Publisher: 
Chizine
Editors: 
Sandra Kasturi
Date: 
2015
Publication type: 
Anthology