Highlights - Sonnet L’Abbé - Poet, Songwriter, Editor of “Best Canadian Poetry in English”

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"Sonnet’s Shakespeare itself came out of thinking about the form of erasure, what working in that form could do and mean. And at the time there were conversations about appropriative poets where there were specific instances of pretty shady power dynamics around certain poets taking certain texts and presenting them as their own and saying, 'This is just an appropriative poetics move.’ And I was looking at critical writing about it, and I couldn't find anything that talked about the role of the poet who is doing that as censorial or as somehow violencing the original text. I was thinking about my resonance with the word erasure and thinking about censoring and deleting what somebody else has already said resonates with me as an analogy for being black, being mixed race, being racialized, and non-European in spaces that are predominantly Anglo-Canadian and in rooms where, classrooms where, playgrounds where, churches where, certain signifiers of difference would make fitting in harder.

One tries very hard. At least I did as a child to just try to fit in and make my visible difference as minimal, as invisible as possible. So it's a way of thinking about erasing the self. And so I took that theme and thought, How do I show through a poetic erasure this dynamic of self-erasure and feeling erased?”

Sonnet L'Abbé is a Canadian poet, songwriter, editor and professor. They are the author of A Strange Relief, Killarnoe, and Sonnet's Shakespeare. Sonnet's Shakespeare was a Quill and Quire Book of the Year. In 2014 they edited the Best Canadian Poetry in English anthology. Their chapbook, Anima Canadensis, won the 2017 bpNichol Chapbook Award. They teach Creative Writing and English at Vancouver Island University, and are a poetry editor at Brick Books.





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