Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang
Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang is the author of the poetry books Status Update (2013), which was nominated for the Pat Lowther Award and the Gerald Lampert Award–winning Sweet Devilry (2011). Her new book Grappling Hook, is due out with Palimpsest Press in the fall of 2022. Status Update is a book entirely based off of other people’s status updates on Facebook, which serve as the title to each of her poems. Her books of poetry include lyric poems, as well as poems using such traditional forms as glossa, sonnet, haiku, and many others. She is also the author of several children’s books, including picture books such as A Flock of Shoes, the non-fiction Warriors and Wailers, and the YA novel Breathing Fire. Sarah's work has been published and translated internationally, as well as named to the OLA Best Bets for Children, Best Books for Kids & Teens, and many others. She is the Poetry Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine.
I had no idea where to get poetry when I was in high school. But I have a particularly vivid memory of our grade 12 teacher reading us Lorna Crozier's “Carrots.” It was so illicit and funny and shocking that my breath caught in my throat. I remember thinking that I had no idea poetry could be fun! It wasn't until I was in university that I began to find poetry on my own, after taking a class in creative writing.
I never would have become a poet if Sheri Benning hadn't come to my house and broken one of my wine glasses. My partner was attending the University of New Brunswick and we decided to host a little party and invite some of his classmates. Sheri Benning was one of those classmates and she was fun and lovely (and a wee bit clumsy). The day after the party she came by and gave me a copy of her book, as an apology for breaking the glass. Her book was phenomenal. It was everything I didn't know I was missing in my life until the moment I opened it. I couldn't believe that someone so young and goofy and clumsy could be a writer. I had always thought of writers as being kind of old and definitely male. Her book made me want to write; her book compelled me to write. She also became an incredible, generous friend who helped take my bloated and misguided poetry and trim it down to something resembling poems. And that's how I started writing. I didn't think of myself as a poet (it seemed like such a weighted term) until after my first book came out.
I think a poet's job is to communicate the beauty and despair that live in just about every ordinary moment. Ideally we try and express things honestly — even when we don't believe in honesty.
Bronwen Wallace's “Common Magic.” This is one of my hands-down all time favorites! It's like her words turn my stomach into ice-water and everything, all of sudden, is in tune. Bronwen Wallace is magic — she can express the small moments in our lives that are really the whole of us. Every single line in this poem is perfection.