Poet Questionnaire: Deirdre Kessler

Poetry’s best use is to give us wings or good hiking boots for exploring our own worlds and other realms.
Deirdre Kessler with Lily the wombat
Deirdre Kessler with Lily the wombat

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Atlantic Books Today is conducting a Proust-esque questionnaire, in which the poem is the thing, with four Atlantic Canadian poets, throughout the month of April.

Our closer is Prince Edward Island’s new Poet Laureate, Deirdre Kessler. Her poetry collections are Afternoon Horses, Subtracting by Seventeen and Rearranging the Sky. Last year Oberon Press published her memoir: Mother Country; she is author of two dozen books for young readers and adults. Born: A foal, five kittens, and Confederation won a 2015 PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation book award and a 2015 City of Charlottetown book award.

ABT: The best thing about poetry is…

…how easily it fits into memory’s pockets and how easily found it is by the tongue.

The worst thing about poetry is…

…that it is often relegated to dusty schoolroom corners.

The best thing about being a Prince Edward Island poet is…

…how much poetry there is in our vibrant oral tradition.

What distinguishes me from other poets is…

I can wiggle my ears while reading poetry or reciting it from memory.

The qualities I most desire in poems are…

freshness of language and image.

Poetry’s best use is…

…to give us wings or good hiking boots for exploring our own worlds and other realms.

My favourite poets include…

…Walt Whitman, Pablo Neruda, Louise Glűck, John Smith, David Helwig, Judy Gaudet, Don MacKay.

If I stopped writing poetry I would…

…start walking and not stop until I reached Abiquiu, New Mexico.

Deirdre Kessler Afternoon HorsesThe best line I have ever written is this one:

“The pond holds the sky on a blue afternoon.”

This line can be found in my poem, “Gateleg table,” and also on a sign above the beaver pond at the Cascade Streams & Ponds exhibit at the Portland (Oregon) Zoo.

One of the best lines anyone else has ever written is this:

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood.” –Pablo Neruda, Winter Garden

Written By

Chris Benjamin is the managing editor of Atlantic Books Today. He is also the author of three award-winning, critically-acclaimed books: Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School; Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada and Drive-by Saviours; as well as several short stories in anthologies and journals.

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