an interview w/
Earlier this year, Coven Editions published Skye Corey's chapbook, INUUJUNGA. To help us learn more about the creative process and inspiration behind their latest work, Skye has allowed us to pick their brain with a short series of questions.
INUUJUNGA is a beautiful collection of poems inspired by your own experiences as an Inuk woman. What in particular drew you to telling these stories through the form of poetry rather than fiction or nonfiction?
I’ve always been really drawn to poetry as a form of expression. In this particular case I felt that telling these stories in the form of poetry would allow me as a writer to relay the details of each story in a way that kept the story intact but would also allow for the reader to make certain interpretations themselves.
Each poem in this collection explores a different aspect or memory of Northern life. Why did you choose to tell these stories specifically?
When I got the idea for this collection, I envisioned it as basically a love letter to the North (my home) and to my youth. These stories are all in some way about my growth as an Inuk. I felt this was an important narrative to explore not only on a personal level (who am I, what did these events mean to me, etc) but on a public one as well in terms of Inuit representation.
The collection is primarily written in English with Inuktitut interspersed throughout. How did you decide when and where to include translations?
Honestly, my first language is English, and I am in no way fluent in Inuktitut, but it felt only natural to include translations when and where I could. Language and language revitalization are definitely forms of medicine, and I wanted to involve them. Growing up my grandmother would try to teach me Inuktitut when I’d visit her and my grandfather in the summers, but over the period of the year I’d lose most of what I’d learned. There is definitely a sense of shame there in being unable to speak it fluently. I think including translations was, for me personally, about showing pride in my culture, and ultimately in myself for what I do happen to know, and continue to learn.
How do you hope the melding of both languages will affect the reader’s experience of your poetry?
I want the use of both English and Inuktitut to submerse the reader into the poetry. I feel language and culture often go hand in hand, and I hope that by using both languages I can make my stories accessible, but also provide a better understanding of the cultural context that they were written in.
What aspect of writing poetry do you find most frustrating? Most worthwhile?
The motivational aspect is definitely the most challenging for me. For a long time I actually wasn't writing, and it was entirely because I just couldn't find the motivation or the right combination of the words I wanted to say. So with that in mind, I think the most worthwhile part of writing poetry is getting past that block and seeing everything eventually come to fruition.
How are you adapting to writing in the midst of quarantine? Has it been challenging to find inspiration or the motivation to write? What keeps you going?
Quarantine has been such a strange experience in that I have all this inspiration, but (again) lack the motivation to act on any ideas I may have. What I've been doing to combat that is a mix of organizing my thoughts, while also being mindful that these are odd circumstances for everybody and it's okay if I'm a little less productive than I'd like to be.
How long does it take to start writing? Do you find it a quick or a slow process? How do your first drafts compare to the final project ready for publishing?
Often it takes me forever to actually begin writing, but I find (and this was especially true with INUUJUNGA) that when I begin getting into that writing zone it all comes together pretty quickly. I think in total it took a week to write all of the poems in INUUJUNGA and have them ready to be submitted.
What are you currently working on?
I'm actually working on a larger collection of poetry with similar themes to INUUJUNGA right now. It's most likely going to be a work in progress for a while, but I'm super excited about it.
Is there a cause or organisation you support or are involved with that you would like to share with our readers?
Currently in Nova Scotia, Mi'kmaw fishers are under attack by commercial fishermen, who are not only impeding on Treaty rights but showcasing a complete disregard for Indigenous lives and livelihoods. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask readers to take a moment to research what's going on in Mi'kma'ki, to donate when possible, and to spread the word. All eyes on Mi'kma'ki.
Additionally, with the suicide epidemic in Nunavut, suicide prevention programs are incredibly important in the work that they do. I'd encourage readers to research this topic as well, and to donate if possible to organizations such as the Embrace Life Council so that they may continue to offer their programs.
deathcap is Coven Editions' online literary mag featuring a curated collection of poetry, fiction and community pieces. Review our Submissions Guidelines for more information if you are interested in contributing to deathcap.