SUSAN GILLIS: How did you first come to poetry - or poetry to you? BREN SIMMERS: I grew up in a household of readers. We went to the library once a week and loaded up on books. My dad, d.n.  simmers,  was a poet and he encouraged me to write. For two hours every weekend, he would shut the door to his office and we knew better than to disturb him. From an early age, I knew that writing meant quiet, reading and muttering to yourself – all things I loved to do. Later, when I moved out, my dad had a book box by the door, his recently read pile. I could take anything I want. Having that kind of unfettered access to books and family support to pursue writing was key to my finding poetry.   SG: One thing I admire in  If, When  is the way you’ve made time and place almost porous; lives lived a century ago seem as present as those being lived now. In exploring those earlier times and places, what surprised you, what changed you (or, changed for you, in your sense of place and connectedness)?  


Bren Simmers SPRING CONDITIONS AT BEST We're tired of headlines, of doomsday pessimism, of ponying up for a season pass at Whistler only to get spring conditions at best. We want fresh pow and bluebird skies. We want can, not can't. Don't tell me what we've lost, show me what we've still got left. from If, When (Gaspereau Press, 2021) . By permission of the author Bren Simmers is the author of If, When (2021),  Pivot Point  (2019),  Night Gears  (2010), and  Hastings-Sunrise ( 2015), which was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award. Her work has won the Arc Poem of the Year Award. She lives on Prince Edward Island.

Kevin Irie: The Tantramar Re-Vision

John James Audubon, Whooping Crane (Sandhill Crane), 1835. Image from Museum of Nebraska Art                      In                     the marsh grass,                      wind                    stirs up some business           I don't know about.                                                           This exciting news about sandhill cranes  taking up residence in the salt marshes between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick sends me back today to Kevin Irie's luminous book of poems, The Tantramar Re-vision (McGill-Queen's, 2021). In these poems, instances of the extraordinary sometimes leap, sometimes slide into a landscape of shifting moods.            Something moves downstream                past thinking of us: Encounters are as likely to be with conundrums and meditative correspondences as with things.           How did it end as                      a small dark brush           sweeping the earth           up into a stillness           like an answer