Sylvia Legris: I have an intensely vivid and visual imagination and a tendency to brood and obsess. I can freak myself out imagining what might be going on inside my own body. Blood streams afloat with islets of fat, bone islands, the recurring skirmish of muscle and bone in my shin-splints’d tibia. I simultaneously wish I had X-ray vision and could see under my own skin and am relieved that I can’t. The title to me is two-edged. Much of The Hideous Hidden is about anatomy—the poems probe into all that gross stuff, innards and viscera, blood and slime, that is largely hidden from sight. However, my intention in these poems is to unearth the music inherent in the body’s icky inner-workings, effectively displacing (or temporarily hiding) the hideous.
IFOA: What elements of anatomy attract and/or inspire you?
Sylvia Legris: Hoo ah!…connective tissue…the glue that holds it all together.
IFOA: Who was the poet that inspired you as a young writer?
Sylvia Legris: While Dr. Seuss basically taught me to read, and certainly attuned my ear and tongue to bendy, nonsensical language, I think that listening had as much—maybe even more—of an influence on the would-be poet in me than reading did (granted, I was a voracious reader from an early age). I was obsessed with cartoons, Mel Blanc’s many voices (my awareness that the Road Runner’s nasally beep was actually a Meep Meep). Even Yogi Bear’s distinctive inflection (“Look’s more/like a sycamore/to me”). Cartoons made me aware of the potential subtleties and nuances of the human voice. I do a pretty good impression of Elmer Fudd singing.
IFOA: What is the ultimate purpose of poetry?
Sylvia Legris: The purpose of poetry, ultimate or otherwise, for a poet writing in North America is no doubt completely different than for a poet writing in a country that doesn’t have the freedom of expression that we do. For me, the purpose of poetry is that it pushes me to pay close attention to everything in as minute detail as possible.
IFOA: What have you learned about language through writing?
Sylvia Legris: I’ve learned how beautifully elastic language is. However, I’ve also learned how kindergartenish my grasp of it is. I’ve learned I’ve got a lot to learn.
Sylvia Legris @ IFOA:
Hear Japanese writer Takashi Hiraide alongside Canadian poets Sylvia Legris and Sarah Pinder read from their latest works on Sunday, October 23 at 5pm. For tickets click here!
Re-awaken your love of poetry as you hear celebrated poets Phil Hall, Maureen Hynes, Sylvia Legris and Mark Wagenaar read from their new collections on Wednesday, October 26 at 8pm. For tickets click here!