Yvonne Trainer holds a BA in English, an MA in English/Creative Writing and a PhD in Contemporary Literature with a special topics area in Medicine in Literature. She has published a chapbook and four books of poetry. As well, she presents poetry readings and talks throughout Canada and in the U.S.. At present, she teaches university-level poetry and Canadian Literature at Mount Royal College in Calgary, AB.
Questions & Answers
Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?
I do not remember a time when the world did not seem to me to be poetry.
From reading childhood nursery rhymes when I was four/five to teaching university level poetry, the moments of my life have overflowed with poetry.
How/where do you find inspiration today?
I enjoy character most. Through writing in the voices of other people, I can begin to empathize with them, and understand something of what it is like to be them.
What is your writing process?
These days my writing process is sporadic. I do contract university teaching so when the contracts run out the writing process begins anew.
What is your revision/editing process?
I edit and revise poems 15-20 times. Once the poem is published in book form, I stop the editing process for that particular piece. Mostly, I play with line and diction. I aim for reflectaphors (words that resonate off other words) throughout.
Did you write poetry in high school? If yes, how did you get started? If no, why not?
I’ve written poetry, at least sporadically, for as long as I can remember. My first poem was published in a newspaper titled Nous Autre / All About Us when I was about fourteen or so, and the second one in Canadian Author and Bookman. I was seventeen at the time. I was sent $1.00 for the poem.
The editor wrote a note: “This might not buy a steak, but it should buy a hamburger, and in those days it did.
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. websites, text books, etc.)?
I use the League of Canadian Poets site and the Academy of American poets online sites. Beyond that, I buy contemporary Canadian and American poetry books and read a large portion of what ever is published each year.
When you were high school aged, what would have been helpful/motivating to hear from a published poet?
I started university when I was seventeen. I didn’t hear my teachers say anything in particular about my poetry, but in my first year of university when I was still a shy, scared teenager, my creative writing professor who towered over me and wore snap-fastener shirts and shiny cowboy boots, said “that’s a real poem, Trainer” and I was off.