25th Trillium Award

Poets in Profile: Oana Avasilichioaei

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Find out what inspires, confounds and delights today's Canadian poets by following our Poets in Profile series.

In today's feature, poet and translator Oana Avasilichioaei talks to Open Book about inhabiting the ever-shifting personas of the poet, reading poetry with her father and finding inspiration in alleyways and vegetable gardens.

Oana will read from her newest book, We, Beasts (Wolsak and Wynn), at the Grey Borders Reading Series in St. Catharines on Friday, April 27th.

You can join her in Toronto on Sunday, April 29 for AvantGarden, a poetry reading with Erín Moure.

She also has a Wolsak and Wynn book launch in Toronto on Tuesday, May 1st and she'll be in Hamilton for Wolsak and Wynn's Poetry in the Park event on Thursday, May 3rd, where she'll be launching We, Beasts along with poets Moez Surani, Catherine Owen and John Terpstra. Visit our Events pages for more details.

Open Book:

Can you describe an experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a poet?

Oana Avasilichioaei:

I am continuously becoming a poet. Sometimes this means traversing the language of other writers, becoming anonymous, inhabiting different personas: an impossible creature, an unlikely academic, a naughty translator, a fervent correspondent, a sound laboratory.


What is the first poem you remember being affected by?


A long Romanian poem by seminal Romantic poet Mihai Eminescu, called ?Luceaf?rul? [North Star]. My father read it to me when I was around six or seven, a reading memory which much later affected one of the long poems in We, Beasts.


What one poem — from any time period — do you wish you had been the one to write?


I can?t answer this question, because for any poem that might come to mind, I am glad that it was written by the writer in question in the time period in question.


What has been your most unlikely source of inspiration?


Alleyways and planting vegetables.


What do you do with a poem that just isn't working?


I work out of the parts that are working, where the language is most exciting.


What was the last book of poetry you read that really knocked your socks off?


Delinquent by Mina Pam Dick (New York City: Futurepoem Books, 2009) and La Poésie entière est préposition by Claude Royet-Journoud (Marseilles: Éric Pesty Éditeur, 2007).


What is the best thing about being a poet?and what is the worst?


The best is getting to play, think, meander, revel, intersect, be challenged by language every day. The worst is that this is not always possible to do everyday.

Oana Avasilichioaei is a poet and translator whose work explores history, geography, public space, textual architecture, multilingualism, translation, textual and collaborative performance, and who transformed the landscape of Vancouver?s Hastings Park into an acclaimed book of poems, feria: a poempark (Wolsak & Wynn, 2008). She has translated Nichita Stanescu from Romanian, published as Occupational Sickness (BuschekBooks, 2006), created visual textworks for galleries in Montreal and Vancouver, and has performed her work in Canada, USA, Mexico and Europe. She recently collaborated with Erín Moure on Expeditions of a Chimæra (BookThug, 2009), a dialogic work exploring the boundaries between author/translator and original/copy. The Islands, a translation of Les Îles by Quebecoise poet Louise Cotnoir, was published by Wolsak and Wynn in 2011. We, Beasts, Avasilichioaei's newest poetry collection, launches this spring.

For more information about We, Beasts and to purchase a copy from the publisher, please visit the Wolsak & Wynn website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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