We asked Jennifer LoveGrove five questions about who she would have dinner with and the inspiration behind her new collection Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes. You can find her at IFOA 2017.
IFOA: What are some themes and subject matters that you like to explore in your poetry?
Jennifer LoveGrove: When I’m writing a new poem, I don’t usually start out to intentionally explore a certain theme or idea from the outset; the themes tend to emerge as the imagery develops and coheres and as I create links between images and moments within the poem. I know what a poem is “about” when it’s finished than when I start.
Having said that, themes and concepts that recur in my poems are feminism, trauma, fear, alienation, strength, resilience and nightmares. And animals.
IFOA: Tell us a bit about your latest work and what inspired you to write it.
LoveGrove: Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes is a book that bears witness to moments of crisis. I try to explore the impact of living in a culture of fear—this hyper vigilant state we all seem to inhabit lately—and what happens to how we live, what we think, how we use language. What happens when trauma is suddenly very real and tangible and not just a constant threat? How do we navigate systems? What happens when these systems—particularly mental health care in Canada—fail?
I use a lot of animal personas and various human personas to examine these scary, messy, complicated experiences and feelings. I’m inspired by strange dreams and complex nightmares and life, especially the hard bits.
IFOA: If you had a chance, who (author, artist, musician) would you have dinner with and why?
LoveGrove: This is the hardest question. I often read while I eat, so I’m always at dinner with some author or other! But in person, in an ornate, dim, basement tapas bar somewhere, I’d want to sit across from Kathy Acker (you didn’t say they had to be living). Or the ghost of Kathy Acker. We’d drink cheap red wine and eat little plates of olives and pickled things and she would have great stories and fierce opinions and afterwards, I’d get a spontaneous tattoo.
IFOA: What are you reading now?
LoveGrove: I’m just starting Lynn Crosbie’s The Corpses of the Future, which I’ve been looking forward to, though it will be devastating. I’m also reading an anthology called Anxiety of Words: Contemporary Poetry by Korean Women, translated by Don Mee Choi.
IFOA: What are you working on now?
LoveGrove: I’m working on a novel. Slowly. It’s about adoption, hospitals, bone donation, alienation, sexual assault, and is set during the G20 in Toronto.
Well, that’s what it’s about right now, anyway…
Jennifer LoveGrove is the author of the Giller Prize–longlisted novel Watch How We Walk, as well as two poetry collections: I Should Never Have Fired the Sentinel and The Dagger Between Her Teeth. Her latest book is Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes. In 2010, LoveGrove was nominated for the K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Literature and in 2015, her poetry was shortlisted for the Lit POP Awards. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications across North America. She divides her time between downtown Toronto and rural Ontario.