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Short Story Prize: Readers

Meet the readers: Oana Avasilichoaei

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 into the longlist. 

First up, poet and translator Oana Avasilichoaei on the importance of finding rigour and joy in your use of language.

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Tell us about yourself. Where do you live and what do you write?
I live in Montreal, Quebec. I write poetry, which engages with geography, public space, textual architecture, orality and multilingualism, and poetical essays. I also translate (commercial and literary works) from French and Romanian into English.

What's your day job?
Translation, editing, teaching.
 
What's your literary street cred?
I have published three books of poetry, Abandon (2005), feria: a poempark (2008), We, Beasts (2012) as well as a collaborative poetic work, Expeditions of a Chimra (2009), co-written with Erín Moure. In the fall of 2011, I wrote commentaries on Canadian experimental poetry for Jacket2. I have performed my work in Canada, USA, Mexico and Europe, and have recently been transforming text into sound work.
 
Why did you want to be a reader for the CBC Poetry Competition?
 
I was curious to read what is happening in poetry across the country. 

What do you like most about poetry?
Its focused, complex, rigorous investigation of language; how it can create new trajectories of thought. 
 
Where did you read the entries? 
In various working areas in my house, on a train, a bus, an airplane. 

When you're reading hundreds of poems and trying to choose the most exceptional ones, what are you looking for?
Language handled with vigour; language at work; attention to sound, content, form. 
 
What is it about a poem that makes you put it in the YES pile?
It takes risks; it surprises; it engages in language with competence and joy.
 
Having read all these poems, do you have tips, any dos and donts for aspiring poets?
Be joyously rigorous and rigorously joyous in your language. 

What did you enjoy most about the experience? 
Getting a sense of writers' poetical interests across the country. 


Some of the strands in Oana Avasilichioaei’s work traverse geography and public space, textual architecture, orality and multilingualism, translation and collaborative performance. Living in Montreal, she has also translated poetry from the Romanian of Nichita Stănescu (Occupational Sickness, 2006) and from the Quebecois French of Louise Cotnoir (The Islands, 2011). Recent projects include “The Mapping Issue,” co-edited with Kathleen Brown for Dandelion Magazine, writing commentaries on Canadian experimental poetry for Jacket2 and transforming text into sound work.



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