Rayanne Haines is the 2022 Regional Writer in Residence for the Metro Edmonton Federation of Libraries. She is the author of three poetry collection and for Urban Fantasy novels, each of which have hit bestseller lists. As a poet she has performed across Canada and her work has been published in Canada, the USA and the UK. Rayanne hosts the literary podcast, Crow Reads and is the Vice President for the League of Canadian Poets. She is a 2019 Edmonton Artist Trust Fund Award recipient. Her poetry and prose have been shortlisted for the Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta Award, The Raven Award and the John Whyte Memorial Essay Alberta Literary Award. She won the 2019 WGA Global Health writing contest for her short story, Cut Lines.
Her artistic practice focuses on projects that look to redeem and empower women's narrative. In addition to her writing, teaching and festival work, she also produces/curates intersectional feminist poetry films and panels with authors across Canada. Her current work focuses on mental health and intergenerational female trauma. tell the birds your body is not a gun her most recent collection of hybrid poetry and essay released in April 2021.
Rayanne teaches at Macewan University in the Arts and Cultural Management Program.
My access to poetry in high school was limited, which is partly why I am passionate about going into schools. My most memorable introduction to poetry came from a particularly exceptional teacher who in grade 11 introduced me to Mary Oliver. The first poem I fell in love with is “Wild Geese,” by Mary Oliver.
I say I started writing poetry while in college, though looking back I realize I’ve been writing my entire life. I filled many notebooks with poems to try and understand my own place in the world or to make sense of growth and loss. I believe everyone has a poem in them, they only need support to bring it out. I began to formally consider myself a poet after my first chapbook was released in 2013. I still write all my poetry on paper. Somehow that feels more intimate to me and I believe all poetry must come from a place of intimacy and vulnerability.
I believe it is the poet’s job to question, to seek answers, to share experiences. A poet cares about the emotion of a subject and often deals with difficult and intense subject matter. A poet’s job is to study the nuances of language and to dissect language to find its purest form in order to tell a story. It is also important for a poet to engage their community in discussion, teaching, and sharing. The wonderful thing about poetry is that it is a fully accessible art form that anyone can take part in without extreme cost or any more supplies than a pen and paper. Poetry affords everyone the ability to share their voice. And that's the most powerful job of the poet.
“From thirsty,” by Dionne Brand
Dionne Brand is one of those exceptional poets whose writing style and personal engagement combine on the page to create truly brilliant poetry. Ms. Brand’s work is notable for the beauty of its language, and for its intense engagement with issues of social justice, including particularly issues of gender and race. In her collection Thirsty she offers an indelible portrait of a multicultural city. I believe her ability to use sparse language to discuss complicated topics and emotions is something all poets should study and strive for. For those younger poets or students, learning her work offers a glimpse into how to use language effectively.