Interview with Kathryn Lapin

Why Poetry?

I think, for me, poetry is play. I’ve always enjoyed the English language; reading it, writing it, deconstructing it. Poetry, to me, is the ability to take language apart and build it again.

There’s something fundamentally super playful and fun about that, about pushing against something that’s perceived as very rigid and making it into whatever your heart desires.

Who/What are you currently reading?

I’m a student so most of what I’m reading these days is course material. I’m also a research assistant working on a digital archive dedicated to the Canadian poet Fred Wah.

I was recently gifted a copy of Wah’s collected works so that’s been taking up a lot of my time. In my minimal spare time, I’ve been looking for witchy novels. I just finished reading

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert which reminded me of Bunny by Mona Awad which I absolutely loved. Recommendations in the same vein would be much appreciated!

What poets/artists have had the most influence on your work?

Jamaica Kincaid is my number one. She’s my favourite author ever and a huge influence on both my poetry and prose. I try to achieve the same level of fluidity and lucidity that she does.

I also (kind of obviously) take a lot of inspiration from horror movies. Jordan Peel is a big name for me right now, but don’t be fooled! This ode to Candyman is an ode to the original 1992 film.

How long do you usually spend on a single poem?

Depends on the poem! Some poems feel finished in an afternoon and there are others that I’ve been sitting on for over a year now. I’m a firm believer in the idea that a poem will let you know when

it’s finished, you just have to be able to listen.

Where does a poem start for you?

Poems usually start somewhere in the middle for me. Usually I have some sort of concept or line I know I want to work with, and I build outwards. Beginnings and endings are the hardest parts for me.

What are a couple features of poems that you enjoy when you read?

I’m a huge fan of consonance and alliteration, as well as internal rhyme. I love devices that make each line of a poem sing.

In what ways do you feel your work has evolved most significantly?

I’m getting better at writing in different poetic forms as well as longer poetic forms. When I first started writing I think my attachment to brevity and my ignorance towards form was a huge setback. But as I continue to read and write, I’m getting more comfortable with writing and experimenting with different forms which has only made my writing stronger.

What recently published poem/poet do I have to read right now, today?

You absolutely have to read Chen Chen. He’s a Chinese-American poet who writes in a captivating and youthful voice. Some people have gone so far as to call him the voice of our generation. I just think he’s really neat.