stephanie roberts

stephanie roberts's picture
Photo credit: 
A. Roberts (2019)
Biography: 

stephanie roberts is a Quebec-based author who was born in Central America and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Her poetry collection rushes from the river disappointment (McGill-Queen’s University Press) was nominated for the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, a Quebec Writers' Federation award. She is the first prize winner in the anthology The Sixty-Four: Best Poets of 2018 from Black Mountain Press and she’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize four times, and Best of the Net three times. Her critically praised, musically-attentive, relationship driven, layered verse has been widely featured in numerous periodicals and anthologies in Canada, the U.S., and Europe including <i>POETRY</i>.

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?: 

Even as a voracious reader my entire childhood, often reading a book a day, I didn’t read poetry in high school. I think it was a lack of opportunity more than a lack of desire. As an immigrant, if someone doesn’t introduce you to the poetry of the culture, your chances of stumbling across it on your own aren’t strong. We read a few Shakespeare plays but I didn’t connect that lyric language to the poetic until I was older.

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

I won a New York State art contest at the age of eleven, but I didn’t narrow my passion for the creative to poetry until I was an adult.

I was in Montréal, by that time, and lucky enough to encounter a slowing on the autoroute of daily obligations sufficient enough to arouse re-examination of my inherited values. During that hiatus, I had a life-altering vision of hope that seemed to ache for poetic expression.

I wrote a poem, mythologizing the fraught relationship I had with my now ex-husband, which made a friend cry. That reaction was a powerful goad then (as it continues to be) for an exploration of the rigour of language to bridge distance.

Since that first tear, every evening I hope to be found guilty of the station of poet.

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

In 2017, in an interview for Unbound with the British journalist Bidisha, the great writer Anne Michaels said:

“It’s a privilege,” [...] “In an ideal world, you want language to transform and in my work I want that transformation to be positive and generative – even the darkness [of the content]. If we don’t know how to make darkness generative then we’re in trouble because so much of life experience can’t be sidestepped.”

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

I would love to memorize Alootook Ipellie’s “Walking Both Sides of an Inivisible Border.”

Publications: 
Title: 
rushes from the river disappointment
Publisher: 
McGill-Queen's University Press
Editors: 
Allan Hepburn
Date: 
May 21, 2020
Publication type: 
Book
Poem title(s): 
Lady Fine is for Sugar
Title: 
The BreakBeat Poets Volume 4: LatiNEXT
Publisher: 
Haymarket Books
Editors: 
Felicia Chavez, José Olivarez, Willie Perdomo
Date: 
April 7, 2020
Publication type: 
Anthology
Poem title(s): 
YE RADIAL NURVE EXAME: SUNDAY DECEMBER SIXTEENTH FOUR FIVE TWO AY EM; As I Damn Well Say; To a Meteor Elongating Night
Title: 
Arc Poetry Magazine
Publisher: 
Arc Poetry Society
Editors: 
Chris Johnson, Doyali Islam
Date: 
Spring 2019
Publication type: 
Periodical/Magazine