Tina Biello

Tina Biello's picture
Photo credit: 
Chris Hancock Donaldson
Biography: 

Born on the west coast of BC in a small logging town to immigrant parents, Tina Biello learned at a young age how language shapes us. She speaks her ancestral language, a dialect from Southern Italy and even attempts to write in the tradition of this oral language. She has published 3 books of poetry in English. Her first book about her parents' village, In the Bone Cracks of the Walls, was shortlisted for a Bressani prize and translated into Italian, where it was presented at the Molise Cinema Festival. Her poems have been composed into music by several different composers. Having a theatre background, Tina has always loved the mixing of genres and  collaboration with artists excites her very much. Her current project is a play she is writing based on a book of poems by Lorna Crozier, entitled Saving Grace. She has been working toward a full production and enjoys the challenge of mixing poetry and playwriting. She was Poet Laureate of Nanaimo from 2017-2020. Please visit her work at www.tinabiello.com

 

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 I did read poetry in high school, mostly the classics. I loved The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. The tales of such a variety of characters going on a journey intrigued me the most. Once I discovered Canadian poets in university, my whole world opened up.

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

I have always written something down. Poetry hit me as an art form when I first studied with Kate Braid. It wasn't until years later, after having had the privilege of working with Patrick Lane for many years, that I considered myself a poet.

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

To connect and go right to the heart of the matter, in a small space of one page. I want a poet with a big heart and muddy feet. As poet Gwendolyn MacEwen said, in her poem, You can Study it if you Want, 

Poetry has got nothing to do with poetry.
Poetry is how the air goes green before thunder,
is the sound you make when you come, and
why you live and how you bleed, and

The sound you make or don't make when you die.

 

If you have a poem in our anthology what inspired you to write it?: 

My poem C Wing 1 was inspired by my Mamma. The book it comes from, A Housecoat Remains, is based on my journey with her through early onset Alzheimer disease. I was in my early twenties when she was terribly sick and I did my best years later to write about the experience. Some of our time together was quite comical and this was one of those bitter sweet moments.

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

So many amazing ones to choose. That's hard. For today, it would be:

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

Publications: 
Title: 
Playing Into Silence
Publisher: 
Caitlin Press
Date: 
2018
Publication type: 
Book
Title: 
A Housecoat Remains
Publisher: 
Guernica Editions
Date: 
2015
Publication type: 
Book
Title: 
In the Bone Cracks of the Walls
Publisher: 
Leaf Press
Date: 
2014
Publication type: 
Book