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Sunday Poetry with Jason Christie

Sunday Poetry with Jason Christie

By Coach House Date: April 19, 2020

On today's Sunday Poetry Jason Christie, author of the eclectic Cursed Objects, has some thoughts on "I’m Putting All the Punctuation Back into This Poem," written for his friend and fellow poet Sachiko Murakami.  


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When I was working on a book with my former editor, Sachiko Murakami, she told me that my laissez-faire approach to punctuating my poems was just lazy. We worked together to make sure that I was being more intentional about the decisions I was making. I didn’t like how punctuation marks at the end of a line looked and opted not to include them, which made the poems needlessly obtuse. She helped me understand punctuation as an aid for clarity and described it as a kindness to the reader (and editor) of my poems. I was intrigued.
In almost every one of my poems, I explore the relationship between a subject and the Other. I think of the poem as a construction between me and whoever might be on the other side of the words, and it never occurred to me that clarity and punctuation could be an expression of kindness. I have started to write a poetics of kindness many, many times over the years, but I never seem to get it quite right. With this poem I wanted to thank Sachiko, and I wanted to put into the world my desire to find the words to express how kindness functions in my poetry. Maybe by doing so, like an invocation, the words will finally be kind and appear.


Jason Christie is the author of Canada Posti-ROBOTUnknown Actor, and a coeditor of Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry .