Poets

Adam Dickinson's picture
Photo credit: 
James Sidney
b. 1974
Biography: 

Born in Bracebridge, Ontario, Adam Dickinson has written four books of poetry and has earned numerous awards and nominations. His writing focuses on the intersection of science and poetry. For example, his latest book, Anatomic, involves the results of chemical and microbial testing on his body. His third book, The Polymers, plays with the science of plastic materials and the aspects of language and culture, such as arguments and trends, that repeat like plastic molecules. He currently teaches at Brock University and you can follow him on Twitter

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 missed the bus home from school one afternoon. As it happened, I had just taken Dylan Thomas's Collected Poems from the library out of curiosity. I ended up reading it during the 5 km walk. I couldn’t believe it was possible to use language like that. I was deeply inspired by the electric leaps the words provoked in my imagination. I was determined to figure out how to make my own poems.

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

I started writing poems in high school. Early publications included short pieces on rolled up notebook paper stuffed into corked glass bottles and hurled into Georgian Bay. I also made some small chapbooks with friends. We traded them back and forth and sold some on consignment at the local bookstore. Poetry was such fabulous fun we felt like we were inventing as we went along.

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

Poetry makes the inscrutable writing of history and culture legible in ways that can provoke us to think differently about the way we organize our world and the kinds of assumptions that underlie it. The poet’s job is to make windows out of words, then break the glass, jump through, and describe life on the other side and what it looks like to look back.

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

Hail” is from my book The Polymers. The poem’s accretive, accumulating structure is modeled on the repetitions inherent in polymer chemistry. The poem, along with the book as a whole, is an attempt to formulate a literary response to the capacity of plastics to influence social formations and alter human metabolism.

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

There are so many to choose from, including favourites from Susan Holbrook, C.D. Wright, and Brenda Hillman. If pressed, however, I will choose Erin Mouré’s translation “Homage to the Mineral of the Onion (I),” which makes me think in a different way about my Ukrainian grandmother and the borscht she made from onions grown in her garden.  

Publications: 
Title: 
Anatomic
Publisher: 
Coach House Books
Date: 
2018
Publication type: 
Book
Title: 
The Polymers
Publisher: 
House of Anansi Press
Date: 
2013
Publication type: 
Book
Title: 
Kingdom, Phylum
Publisher: 
Brick Books
Date: 
2006
Publication type: 
Book