Gillian Sze in Conversation

Photo of Gillian Sze by Sofia Bohdanowicz
Sound, scent and the physical act of writing. That sensibility moving through the world, both exploratory and determined. Meet Gillian Sze.

SUSAN GILLIS: How did you first come to poetry?
GILLIAN SZE: Probably by accident, chance, and good timing. I think much of what I do now originates from a number of things: nursery rhymes, wisdom spouted by my parents in Chinese idioms, the sound of flipping pages, the smell of winter in my backyard, good penmanship, letter-writing, journaling, and reading.

SG: Is it fair to think of your work in terms of appetite and persistence? What role do these play in your work?
GS: Appetite, for sure – and quite literally in my last book where there’s an intense focus on food and eating. More broadly, I think appetite and persistence is a productive way of thinking about art, poetry, and creation. The appetite to understand, to express, to communicate and the dogged persistence to get it right, and to get it out there in the world. I hope always to be hungry. Anne Carson said it best when she wrote: “I will do anything to avoid boredom. It is the task of a lifetime.”

SG: What’s inspiring you these days?
GS: The changing season, particularly the light this time of year. Planting tulips. Exploring my new neighbourhood. Teaching my students the villanelle.
Gillian Sze is the author of three poetry collections, including Peeling Rambutan (Gaspereau Press, 2014), shortlisted for the A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry. Originally from Winnipeg, Gillian now lives in Montreal where she writes and teaches. Read her poem "Eating Fruit" here.