is an internationally published poet and poetry activist. She was
responsible for creating and running the successful poetry reading
series The Poets' Refuge and has initiated and produced many poetry
events including The Poetry Express - a BYOV at Toronto's Fringe Festival;
Liminal Sisters - a language poetry event; The Festival of the Spoken
Word - a five day spoken word festival; Fightin' Words - poets in
a boxing ring; The Poetburo Slams and the hyper- successful Word Up
- a series of interstitial poetry spots airing on MuchMusic and Bravo!
which spawned a CD with Virgin Records and an anthology with Key Porter.
She was the poetry editor for Insomniac Press from 1999 to 2001.
Jill has been
widely published in literary journals and anthologies in North America
and the UK. Her first book Hard Candy was received to great
acclaim and nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award. She has written
several plays and solo works, including How I learned to live
with obsession as well as Ecce Homo and Hard Candy
- enhanced monologues for dance and voice. She has written the
libretti for two short operas Netsuke and Ashlike on the
Cradle of the Wind produced by Tapestry New Opera Works, and
produced an electro acoustic sound art project, LinguaElastic,
as part of the Canadian Music Centre's New Music in New Places series.
Dark Star Requiem, for which she wrote the libretto, will
premiere in Toronto in June 2010. Jill's third book of poems, Dark
Star Requiem, is forthcoming with Folded & Gathered Press.
your first reaction on being selected as Cobourg's second Poet Laureate?
It's a big thrill to have been selected, but daunting at the same
time - daunting because I want to make a legacy project that really
How do you
see your role?
as someone who is going to shake up the community in terms of poetry.
"You don't like poetry? Rethink it this way; 'Have you thought
about writing a poem? Then write one,'" And, also, to make
people aware that poetry can make a difference in their lives. It
isn't all about dead white guys that might not resonate with your
life; there are plenty of really interesting and valid forms and
poets out there. Eric Winter did a great job and laid the groundwork
for me to take advantage of his hard work.
Do you see
yourself bringing something new to the position?
Mostly because of my extensive background with inventing and producing
unique poetry events, together with my connection to many, many
poets and organizers out there.
you to poetry in the first place?
Folly. No, seriously; I've always written, but it wasn't until I
had some time to really 'write' that things took off. I was working
in the film business in LA and found myself with some time off.
I had a small handmade book of not very good poetry with me and
I felt I could do better. And in LA at the time one could read at
a different poetry event every night of the week, sometimes three
a night. I took advantage of that and started to read my work and
people seemed to like it. I never looked back.
you describe your poetry?
gritty, raw. Achingly romantic and unabashedly sentimental.
of creative process do you go through?
the same as many other writers. Usually hellish. I carry a notebook,
write fragments, then sit at the computer, and sometimes in longhand,
and write the first of several drafts. Before I sit down the house
has to be clean, the laundry done - all the things I 'could be doing'
out of the way. I refine the poem by reading it aloud and see where
it is 'soft' and then revise it. Then I read it to an audience and
I can really see where is doesn't work and where it does.
you, triggers a poem?
much everything. Sometimes it's beauty, sometimes anger; sometimes
a point needs to be made. I can write in a busy coffee shop or on
the couch in silence.
Who are your
Olds, Charles Bukowski, Thom Gunn, August Kleinzahler, Patricia
you reading these days - if you have time to read?
I'm presently reading 'This is your mind on music', 'sleeping it
off in rapid city', 'the boy who would be Shakespeare' and 'Raymond
Carver - a writer's life.'
on the CPW?
How can I say anything bad? Their good work got me this job. It's
a great group of people who are really, really interested in poetry
and doing good work to promote it and celebrate it.