Kevin Connolly

Kevin Connolly's picture

Kevin Connolly was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, and grew up in Maple, Ontario. His first book of poetry, Asphalt Cigar, was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award; his third book, Drift, won the Trillium Book Award; and his fourth book, Revolver, was nominated for both the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Trillium Book Award. Connolly lives in Toronto with the writer Gil Adamson. 

Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?: 

I of course read poetry when in high school. The poems I loved then were Dylan Thomas’s “Fern Hill” and Leonard Cohen’s “You Have the Lovers.”

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

I wrote poetry from Grade 3, Ms Mehta’s class. The first one I wrote was about dusk taking over a field. I’m not sure if I ever started thinking of myself as a poet so much as it became obvious I couldn’t stop writing poems.

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

To see things others miss. About life, about joy, about sadness often, but not always. Life is sad only because it’s sometimes so wonderful you’re afraid to lose it. And you know you will. Poets talk about this. Others are understandably reluctant to go there. Some days I wish I could stop.

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

That’s a strange one. I was supposed to meet up with a friend that night and he cancelled, and it left me at loose ends enough to notice all the things around me I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I just went ahead and did what was planned. The poem [“Plenty”] is very immediate to me even now, because it was about a particular attention to what I liked about being alive that day — the physical surroundings, the weather, the wind in your hair near the lake where I lived. It has a tension to it people seem to like because I wrote it fast. Anything good about that poem was there in 20 minutes. 

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

Not sure about that exactly, but I’d try to memorize two poems — something old and something new. I think after a few hard runs through both poems, you’d find there’s not a huge difference — between the way poems express their time, and the way they reflect all times — poems are about the problems and the joys of feeling and being alive. But a good poem to read aloud is something that feels present and important for you, the reader. The poet feels like they’re talking about something important to you. So when you read it, it's easy to inhabit it, because it feels real to you.