Q & A with Joan Vinall-Cox

Meet contributor poet Joan Vinall-Cox
We’re back from the (Canadian) Thanksgiving break with a Q & A interview with contributor Joan Vinall-Cox. She is a poet and lecturer on storytelling and speaking (including podcasting) at the University of Toronto in Mississauga, Ontario. Her poem, “Mapping the Wilderness,” an excerpt from her new ebook poetry collection of the same name, is Tuesday’s post. Her poetry is also featured in Commuterlit Selections Fall 2013.

You lecture on storytelling and speaking. How do those skills connect with writing poetry? How essential are they to poetry?

Joan Vinall-Cox:
Poems are, in my metaphor, maps to evoke similar stories and understandings in the readers and/or listeners. The more deeply I understand stories, the stronger my poems are. As for speaking, poems are in the poet’s voice, and how the poet handles her (or his) breath through the poem is a large part of the sharing of the bodily feelings, which are the foundation of the poem’s meaning.

Do you read the words aloud when you are writing a poem? How essential is spoken word to your work as a poet?

I hear the words in my mind as I compose. I crave opportunities to read my poems aloud, by myself or with an audience, to find out if they are balanced and have the intended flow. I even use SoundCloud as a way to hear myself read and to invite others to hear my poems.

What poets/poetry collections are you currently reading and why?

I am currently reading CommuterLit Selections Fall 2013 to encounter my fellow writers, and re-read my own poem, “Teaching.” I am also reading Ellen Bass’s Mules of Love after opening it and strongly connecting with a poem that spoke to what’s happening in my life now. I love Mary Oliver’s poetry, Margaret Atwood’s, and Leonard Cohen’s lyrics and poetry.

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