I’m moved by the words, and I just let the words speak themselves through me, and I feel a sense of exhilaration if I’m able to connect with the audience, and feel that energy.
In December of 2013 Kenneth McCormick conducted his second telephone interview with one of our writers to give you a deeper connection to and understanding of our skilled contributors. Unfortunately, the original interview did not record. So, in late January, 2014, none other than OMQ’s very own Editor, Dinah Laprairie, got on the phone with poet, ky perraun, to bring you the interview below. ky perraun lives in Edmonton, AB, where she facilitates a writing group for CMHA. Her poem “A Silent Plague (for Colin)” was featured in Open Mind’s Quarterly’s anthology In New Light: The many paths of identity, struggle and mental illness.
Her chapbook, Paging Dr. G., is available on Amazon. She will also be featured in the upcoming anthology, The Book of Women’s Mysteries and One Man’s Confusion, which will be available on Amazon. ky’s poem “Angry” was published in the Spring issue of OMQ.
Silent Plague (for Colin) – ky perraun[audio:http://www.openmindsquarterly.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Silent-Plague-for-Colin.mp3]
[Dinah Laprairie]: We’ve published three of your pieces in Open Minds Quarterly over the years. Tell me, why do you write?
[ky perraun]: I started writing at a very early age. I think I was four, six, and I’d stumbled across some poetry, and I was taken by the rhythm and music of the language, and carried on from there. Now it’s primarily for enjoyment, and also for therapy.
[DL]: The impression I get from your poems is that you’re very conscious of the sound of language. When you write, are you thinking about how it will sound when it’s read aloud?
[kp]: Definitely. My first influence was Middle English lyrics, and that relied heavily on sound, and I really appreciate the sound, the musicality of it.
I find that it really lends itself to the whole poetic experience if the words sort of roll off the tongue, have rhythm and assonance and alliteration. I find those things very moving and compelling, they really add to the meaning of the poem.
[DL]: You’ve published a chapbook, Paging Dr. G.. Can you tell our readers a bit about it?
[kp]: It’s basically about the psychiatric relationship between the patient and the psychiatrist, and how the psychiatrist helps the patient reclaim a sense of self, and the whole mental health system process. I’d written a number of pieces about mental illness, and I decided to incorporate them into a chapbook. [continued]
[DL]: Where you surprised, when you pulled your poems together, to see the theme of that relationship emerge?
[kp]: I think I’d seen it coming, because I have one humorous poem which won Third Place in the BrainStorm Poetry Contest years ago that was called “Shrinkipoo” (OMQ, Spring 2009). [both laugh] And I thought that was humorous, I thought I’d carry on from there. It’s not all humorous, though, it’s just basically because the relationship between a patient and the psychiatrist is so imbued with meaning, and there’s such a sense of reliance upon the medical profession that it can engender mixed feelings sometimes.
[DL]: In the chapbook, does your poetry talk about the resistance you feel to the system, as well? I noticed in your poem “In Protest” (OMQ, Winter 2006) that either you, or the narrator of your poem, was feeling some resistance to the system.
[kp]: Oh, definitely, yeah! It took me a long time to accept that I had a mental illness, that I needed medication. That, I think, was a result of stigma, and self-stigma, and also a lack of insight. It took a great deal of convincing to get me to accept that I did need medical help.