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Short Story Prize: Readers

Meet the readers: Katia Grubisic

We're introducing you to the 10 talented Canadian poets who helped narrow down more than 2,300 entries for the 2011-2012 CBC Poetry Prize to create the longlist.
Up next, writer, editor and translator Katia Grubisic on artists' civic responsibilities, and poets' special privileges with prepositions. 


Tell us about yourself. Where do you live and what do you write?
I write poetry and fiction when blank swaths of time permit; I also work with any sentence that needs to be generated, repaired or translated.
What's your day job?
Freelance writer, editor and translator. Not as romantic as it might seem, but often edifying; see above! 
What's your literary street cred?
Why did you want to be a reader for the CBC Poetry Competition?
I firmly believe that artists have civic responsibilities—curatorial or guest-editing stints, sitting on juries, mentorship, involvement in their professional associations… Not all of it, not all at once, and not at the expense of the work, but it’s important to be part of the larger conversation, and to give back a bit of what we all benefit from.
What do you like most about poetry?
Poets can end sentences with prepositions with impunity.
When you’re reading hundreds of poems and trying to choose the most exceptional ones, what are you looking for? Can you describe a couple of the entries that struck you as standouts? 
For an essay on the anatomy of a prize-winning poem in Arc Poetry Magazine last year, I talked with Patricia Young, who, like many writers, has judged a number of contests. I like her process—in rereading her good and excellent piles, she removes the poems she can live without. The last one standing wins.

The poems on my longlist for the CBC Poetry Competition felt necessary in this way—one played in my head like a film I wasn’t allowed to watch, another was so spare and exact it seemed predestined…
Having read all these poems, do you have tips, any dos and don’ts for aspiring poets?
Pretend you are learning to play an instrument you have never seen. Pretend language is not just something anyone can use to order "fries with that". Take your work seriously, and yourself not at all. 

Katia Grubisic is a writer, editor and translator. She guest-edited the acclaimed Montreal issue of The New Quarterly and the journal’s non-fiction supplement, and has been the editor of Arc Poetry Magazine. From 2008 to 2012, she was the coordinator of the Atwater Poetry Project reading series. She has been guest faculty in creative writing at Bishop’s University, and has taught in cegeps and for the Quebec Writers’ Federation. Her work has appeared in various Canadian and international publications, and her collection of poems What if red ran out won the Gerald Lampert award for best first book.

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