Rayanne Haines’s writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from, Fiddlehead, Impact: The Lives of Women After Concussion Anthology, Voicing Suicide Anthology, The Selkie Resiliency Anthology, Freefall, Wax Poetry and Arts, Funicular, and Indefinite Space. Past Executive Director of the Edmonton Poetry Festival, she is the current host of the literary podcast, An Eloquent Bitch and is the Alberta NWT rep for the League of Canadian Poets. Rayanne 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.
Her artistic practice focuses on projects that look to redeem and empower the female narrative, and the political statement made by those that refuse to. 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 is forthcoming in 2021 with Frontenac House.
Rayanne is currently enrolled in a Masters of Arts, Festival and Cultural Management program at Queen Margaret University.
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.