In Conversation: Julie Joosten

“Some people’s lives have slowed down… Mine has sped up.” —Julie Joosten

Julie Joosten has the ability to pare language down to its core, distilling the guts of each word and sensation. Her recently published poetry collection, Nought, the follow-up to her award-winning 2013 debut Light Light, focalizes touch, describing it so vividly that its absence—present and past—seems even more heartbreaking. We had a brief conversation with Julie about writing, life, and human connection, all of which look different during the pandemic.

How has the pandemic affected your writing?

Some people’s lives have slowed down; some have sped up. Mine has sped up—I don’t have as much time to write or to do the things that, for me, while not literally writing are forms of writing.

How has it affected your reading?

Same with reading.

What are you currently reading?

Anna Burns’s Milkman, and I love it.

What do you miss?

Casual touch, brushing arms.

Who do you miss?

My family.

What does and doesn’t help you write?

Anxiety.

What do you write with?

A clicky keyboard; a fountain pen; blue-leaded pencils.

What makes you happy?

Gentleness.

How did you know that your most recently written book was finished?

I was ready for someone else to hold it.

Do you have a preference for fiction, nonfiction, or poetry in your reading or writing?

All of them, each of them.

Describe your favourite article of clothing.

A flannel-lined denim work jacket that was given to me as a gift.

Describe the sky where you are.

Bright blue with a lazy, northwesterly wind.

Tell us a very short story, or write a very short poem.

It rained.

Julie Joosten’s first book, Light Light, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and the Goldie Award. She won the Malahat Review Long Poem Contest in 2011. She lives and writes in Toronto on the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.