An Interview with Francine Diodati

Francine Diodati finds joy in the making of things, especially poetry and the special medicine it offers. They have a BA in English from York University, studied poetry at U of T and are trained in the Amherst Writers & Artists Method.   Her first poem was recently published in Peregrine. They live in Tkaronto (Toronto) with their partner and two young children. 

You can read her poem On the Anniversary of Your Death in the January 2023 issue of Pinhole Poetry.

Would you like to tell us a little bit more about your poem? For instance, how or why you wrote it, or perhaps provide some extra context? 

The seed of the poem came to me when I awoke  in the middle of the night a couple of winters ago and was somewhere in between dreaming and waking. The dream was filled with loss and the backyard full of trees wailing in heavy wind.  It was at a time when I was struggling with some profound grief after a series of sharp-life turns and consumed by a profound grief that was resurfacing my inner landscape. The poem was an attempt to hold some space for that grief, a stab at making meaning when nothing in the world made sense to me anymore. 

Do you have a collection of poetry or even a single poem that acts as a touchstone? 

So many! But, off hand, here are a few that have stayed with me long after reading them: To the Fig Tree on 9th and Christian by Ross Gay,  Postcards for My Sister by Alessandra Naccarato, Identity & Community (There is No “I” in “Sea”) by Brenda Shaughnessy, Action by Denise Levertov, Good Bones by Maggie Smith and  This is a Photograph of Me by Margaret Atwood 

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

I can’t imagine anything matching it. Poetry has has been in me long before I knew what it was or had a name for it–-from the scribbles I didn’t know were poems in my elementary and teenage years, to the first cringe-worthy early creations I dared call poems later on in life, to the poems that are brewing inside as I write this.  I am a late bloomer, so getting to a point where I could fully access the joys of writing poetry has been long-coming and would be heart-breaken  to lose it now.

How do you revise your work?

Always with an Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) lens which helps me lean into the softer and gentler editorial voice in me. It infinitely easier for me to be harshly critical, but have found that when I am able to approach my poems in state of wonder, as a playful conversation, I am more often than not going to land on what is unique and strong in my writing voice.

What are you working on now? 

I have a journal full of free-writing that needs mining! 

How or where or with what does a poem begin? 

Often in free-writes, largely from taking part in generative workshops that ascribe to the Amherst Writers and Artists method.    I’ve yet to find a way to replicate the magic that seems to happen when writing in a supportive community. Sometimes though, poems arrive near-fully formed, like some kind of ethereal text. Sometimes via a certain combination of words, sounds or images, I stumble upon them during my day. Sometimes poems arise from dreams and fragments of memory that bubble-up in my mind depending on what is happening in my life at the time..  

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

I make every effort to dedicate time to read at least one poem a day. Free time is in short-supply at this stage in my life– working full-time in healthcare with two young kids, one of whom has a neurodevelopmental disorder, plus my own health concerns, will do that! This also means that much of my poetry writing happens on my phone in little spurts, often during my commute to-and-from work. Being stuck between an unrelenting need to write and the smallest margins of time and energy to do it on a daily basis, I was forced to let go of some narratives  of what it means to have a meaningful writing life that I had picked-up along the way.  I stopped chasing the prop I thought I was told I needed ( e.g., a strict 5 am morning pages routine ) and decided to focus on chasing the feeling I thought that prop was going to give me instead. And often that looks like tinkering away on a poem during a train ride home.   

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: