Books·How I Wrote It

How naps make poet Leanne Dunic more creative

The musician and author of the collection To Love the Coming End discusses her creative process and her obsession with the number 11.
Leanne Dunic is the author of To Love the Coming End, a poetry collection. (BookThug/John Fong)

Leanne Dunic is an artist, musician and writer. She won the Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story writing competition in 2015 and she just released her first book, the poetry collection To Love the Coming End. The poems travel between Singapore, Canada and Japan and explore grief, trauma and human connection.

In her own words, Dunic discusses the creative process behind To Love the Coming End.

Inspiration and the number 11

"I started writing it in March 2015. The Tōhoku earthquake was on March 11, 2011. I see how the number 11 is drawn to remembrance and trauma. There's 9/11 for New York City. 9/11 was also the day of the Chilean coup in 1973. Remembrance Day in Canada is November 11, and we have our moment of silence at 11 a.m. I kept notes about all of these things that were related to 11. I was looking through my notes and I started seeing these threads of connection.

"The book was actually called 11 at one point. I just like the way the number looks. It looks like two people. I don't think I'm the only person who is fascinated with the number 11. There are so many people who tell me that when they see the clock is 11:11, they make a wish."

Writing from the dream space

"I need to be able to access my subconscious. I'm half asleep or I'm tired or I just woke up — some space where my mind is relaxed and not holding back. I write much of my stuff from a dream space: the music, the lyrics, everything from the dreams. I need to make sure I can access that world. It involves napping sometimes. If I'm working on some narrative and I can't find the answer, I just have a nap and then the answer usually comes to me."

The rhythm of music and poetry

"As far as lyrics and poetry, to me they are vastly different. There is more musicality in lyrics. There is an inherent sense of rhythm that is usually consistent — more consistent than a poem might be. In music you need to consider the actual music, too. With poetry you have more freedom to have the musicality move the way you want it to, so that it serves the subject or the words better.

"Intuitive is a pretty good way to describe the way I work. I don't think about it so much. I just respond as naturally as possible. Negative space is something I appreciate in any form of art. I like how negative space affects rhythm and how it provides pause for a reader."

Leanne Dunic's comments have been edited and condensed.

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