An Interview with Dawn Macdonald

Dawn Macdonald lives in Whitehorse, Yukon, where she was raised off the grid. She holds a degree in applied mathematics and used to know a lot about infinite series. Her poetry has appeared in over two-dozen journals, and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize.

You can read her poem Courtship of Land and Sky in our July 2022 issue.

If you didnt write poetry, how do you think you might access the same fulfillments that poetry offers in your life? 

I had a poetry gap of about ten years in my thirties. I was still writing; my genre was the unfinished novel. Coming back to poetry was a relief and a rebirth. What did I think I was doing all those years? Maybe I was writing an extremely long-form prose poem. If I didn’t write at all, I would be having many bizarre and speculative conversations, and generally driving my friends nuts. I do this now, of course. But it would get worse?

How or where or with what does a poem begin? 

A line, not necessarily the first line. Words jumble together and thoughts shoot out in all directions. A few words repeated and revolved in the mind until you can get to the notebook. A general air of distraction.

Are there other art forms that inspire or inform your poetry? 

I like to play “art gallery” in my neighbourhood – go out for a walk and look at things as if they’re installation art. This might not turn directly into poems, but I think it reflects the underlying stance of exploring (or exploiting) the mundane for its artistic potential.

How do you make space for poetry in your daily routine? 

Poetry fits nicely into the cracks of life. Writing and revising can be done in short bursts. It helps to take the bus instead of driving, and one must carry a notebook everywhere. Where I do have to carve out time is for submissions. I have a weekly calendar item for this, but it gets moved around for other things, and can just feel too tiresome at the end of a workday. I read poetry almost every day, usually in the morning. A poem fits into the minute it takes your computer to boot up, or your kettle to boil.

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