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From the archives: Anne Carson's Lannan Foundation conversation with Brigdhe Mullins

Nox by Anne Carson

Canada Reads Poetry is a three-week online initiative presented by CBC Books and the National Post. Inspired by the original Canada Reads format, Canada Reads Poetry features five panelists defending five collections of poetry. That's where the similarities end; while Canada Reads plays out on-air, Canada Reads Poetry plays out online.

Anne Carson is often regarded as one of the world's most exciting contemporary writers. Her richly allusive poetry combines personal reflections with classical and literary references, and the result is unconventional and engaging storytelling. Carson's work has received numerous awards, including the Griffin Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship "genius grant." In 2001, she became the first woman to receive the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry.

Carson, who rarely gives interviews, spoke with with playwright and poet Brighde Mullins on March 21, 2001, for the Lannan Foundation Readings & Conversations series. Carson received the Lannan Literary Award in 1996. At the time of this interview, she had recently published Men in the Off Hours, which would go on to win the Griffin Poetry Prize later that year.

Anne Carson with Brighde Mullins, Conversation, 21 March 2001 from the Lannan Foundation on Vimeo

 

Brighde Mullins spoke with Carson about what experiences influence her writing, including travel and pilgrimage. "I hate travel," Carson joked. "You always feel that travelling you have the wrong clothes, the wrong face and the wrong accent. It's good to dislodge yourself from those categories."

This humour, compounded with sharp observation, is a Carson trademark. While her distaste for travel is strong, it taught Carson the importance of recording "the horror as it as happening." While travelling to Rome several years ago, Carson compiled her observations and memories in a "story book," and later added words; it was subsequently published as the unconventional essay "The Fall of Rome."

In 2010, Carson would use a similar approach in dealing with the unexpected loss of her brother. This project became Nox, which was chosen by poet Anne Simpson for Canada Reads Poetry.

 

 

Read Anne Simpson's essay on why Nox should win Canada Reads Poetry on the National Post's books blog, The Afterword.

Join the Canada Reads Poetry conversation in the CBC Books Community.

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