Valerie Mason-John

Valerie Mason-John's picture
Biography: 

My first complete collection of poetry I am Still Your Negro An Homage to James Baldwin was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award 2021 and has been shortlisted for the BC Yukon Book Award 2021. I also co-edited the award winning anthology The Great Black North - Contemporary African Canadian Poetry, the first African Canadian National anthology (include writers from the majority of provinces) to be published in Canada. I was the writer in residence for the largest womens remand prison in London Holoway, and edited a collection of poetry. My joy is writing in form, playing with sonnets, villaneles, haikus and couplets. My other joy is performing. My one woman show - Brown Girl In the Ring is poetic monologue with me claiming to be the Black Queen of England. I have written fairy tale plays, have an award winning novel, and am author and editor of 10 books

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?: 

I read Beano, Enid Blyton, Bunty, and many comics. 

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

On the school desk. Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I am still in love with you. Or Pinch punch first day of the month, slap kick for being so quick.

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

I can only speak for my self. I come from the oral tradition, and for me it is about telling the truth, telling and retelling our stories. As an oppressed person of African Descent, In this century I have the power of the pen. And so my job is to uplift my people, and educate other people. My job is to be recognized along all poets.

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

The Windrush, was inspired by the mass exodus of Jamaicans to England. They arrived on the Windrush, in hope of a new life. Some literally thought the streets were paved with gold. They were told it was the land of milk and honey. And when they arrived - there was no big welcome, and last year they tried to send the Windrush immigrants back home. For me it was one of my poems where I document an important part of history.

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

Oh Now I must read it. I was only invited to your anthology a couple of days ago - so I will come back to this question - as I love memorizing.

Publications: 
Title: 
The Banana Kid
Publisher: 
Demeter Press
Date: 
2013
Publication type: 
Book
Title: 
I am Still Your Negro - An Homage to James Baldwin
Publisher: 
University of Alberta Press
Date: 
2020
Publication type: 
Book
Poem title(s): 
Yellow Knife
Title: 
The Great Black North - Contemporary African Canadian Poetry
Publisher: 
Frontenac House
Editors: 
Valerie Mason-John and Kevan Cameron
Date: 
2013
Publication type: 
Anthology