Books·Magic 8 Q&A

What keeps Griffin Poetry Prize finalist Aisha Sasha John going as a poet and human

The author of I have to live answers eight questions from eight fellow authors.
Aisha Sasha John is a poet, artist, musician and dancer. (Yuula Benivolski/McClelland & Stewart)

I have to live., Aisha Sasha John's quietly powerful poetry collection, is one of three Canadian books shortlisted for the $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize. In it, the Toronto poet reflects on the tensions and cross-sections between our physical bodies and inner selves.

Below, John takes the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A and answers eight questions from eight fellow writers. The Griffin Poetry Prize winner will be announced on June 7, 2018.

1. Tomson Highway asks, "What keeps you going — first as a writer, and second as a human being?"

Love; love.

2. Lawrence Hill asks, "What is the worst job you ever had, and what kind of good material did it give you?"

Tilt-a-Whirl operator at Playland. It was just bad. Sometimes things are just bad.

3. Jowita Bydlowska asks, "Do you have any writing rituals and if yes, what are they?"


4. Kerry Clare asks, "What are some of your favourite words? Which ones do you use too often?"

I like the name Suleiman. I like to make up words. I like to imagine the words my mouth was actually designed to speak — these words wouldn't be English.

5. Roberta Rich asks, "What other creative pursuits do you have?"

I am a dancer and choreographer.

6. Rajiv Surendra asks, "If you had complete control of the cover design for your book, what would it look like?"

It would be a photo of my tiny, blessed ear.

7. Adam Haslett asks, "Is the solitude of writing more a pleasure or a prison for you?"

I am in relation when I write.

8. Tracey Lindberg asks, "What book is on your nightstand right now? How long has it been there?"

I am reading Cigarettes by Harry Mathews. Hollywood Forever by Harmony Holiday is on my nightstand as is Mrabet's The Beach Cafe and the Voice. So is the notebook I filled up after meditating for 10 days, eight months ago. 


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