Canisia Lubrin on how poetry orients us to 'the complexities of life'
April is National Poetry Month. To celebrate, CBC Books asked poets the question: "What is the power of poetry?"
Canisia Lubrin is a poet and author based in Whitby, Ont. Her debut poetry collection, Voodoo Hypothesis, uses both modern language and folklore to explore race, oppression and colonialism. The League of Canadian Poets announced in April 18, 2018, that Voodoo Hypothesis is on multiple longlists for the 2018 Poetry Awards.
"To me, poetry is language manipulated and compressed to orient us to the complexities of life. In poetry, we arrive closer to things that we seem to perceive as irrational or that we find difficult or impossible to express otherwise. By that, I mean that the logic of narrative — which prioritizes neat causality — is dislocated so that we may perceive what would normally escape perception or apprehension in language. The hope is to arrive at a truer expression of something. In poems, we must kind of become whatever the poem offers, and that becoming is always diverse.
"This awareness of what to become in our encounter with poetry is due to poetry's radical ability to remind us that we share fellowship with the whole of that thing we call life: human and non-human etc. Maybe to see poetry that way is the lot of the poet. But the truer thing is that I am first a reader. I am a reader who is always after something new, something I did not know or feel yesterday that can bloom me into more aliveness. This isn't always a comforting thing, but it is part of poetry's power. "