Checking In: Laurie Koensgen

Laurie Koensgen has published fifty-odd poems nationally and internationally since that first phafours credit with Where There’s Fire (2013)

Laurie Koensgen (KŌNS-gən) is an Ottawa writer and educator. She was shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Award for Poetry 2018, received honourable mentions in Arc’s Diana Brebner Prize 2018 and The New Quarterly’s Occasional Verse Contest 2019. Her poem “Gravities” was featured in the League of Canadian Poets’ 2021 Poetry Month celebrations. Laurie is a founding member of the Ruby Tuesday Writing Group. Her 2021 chapbook, Blue Moon / Orange Begonias, is already out of print from Rose Garden Press (who were lovely to work with). Also out, Three Movements, (Coven Editions, 2018) and headlonging (Floodlight Editions, 2012 is also out of print).

Blue Moon / Orange Begonias

PP: What have you read lately that lit you up? Why or how?

LK: Coming out of a long, muzzyheaded ennui, I wanted an unusual novel. Girl, Woman, Other by Evaristo was that fascinating read—a hybrid of prose and poetry, with a disarming lack of narrative. Bernardine Evaristo has created a feast of women characters whose worlds intersect in slow reveals. I loved its almost poem-like fluidity. And was startled by its honesty.   

PP: What’s life’s focus these days, literary or otherwise?

LK: I recently worked on a project with visual artist, Lynda Cronin. She’s the creator/curator of hum, Ottawa’s first micro gallery. Micro galleries are miniature spaces for small-scale artworks. They’re cropping up on posts in urban communities, stirring connections with art outside of the usual cultural venues. [See the link, they are like Little Free Libraries but art display cases instead.]

Linda exhibited two of my poems in succession, creating an ambience for each. I was honoured to be hum’s opening artist, and pleased that poetry was the first art featured. I love collaborations between artistic disciplines and want to work across genres with other artists soon. I’m exploring some ideas.  

PP: Cool. What else is underway or forthcoming?

LK: I’m working on a chapbook tentatively called A Cold Glass of Water Against this Heat. It traces the arc of a love relationship. Generally feminist, it’s alternately fiery and tender. I want these twenty-or-so short poems to be read together, in close connection. 

I’m thinking about my first full poetry collection but the process feels be·he·moth. I need to break it down into be·she·moths.

PP: Ha! Good plan. What work do you have out? 

LK: I have a poem in Pinhole Poetry’s current issue and another forthcoming in Flo. Literary Magazine. The Madrigal published a 20 year-old romantic poem in their Verity issue this spring, and Blood Moon Poetry published a feminist piece in Und(h)erstory. Recently anthologized poems are in Worth More Standing by Caitlin Press and Ice Floe Press’ Pandemic Love Anthology

PP: Any author site?

LK: I may disappoint impassioned social media observers. I’m only an occasional poster. Twitter: @EkeLore or Instagram: @lauriekoensgen

PP: Thank you for all this! Any links you’d like to promo?

LK: Yes, links to three artists in the National Capital Region whose bodies of work astonish me:  

Paula Murray, ceramic artist. Her porcelain work is spiritual, vulnerable and serene. (her Instagram)

Ruth Dick, photographer.  She elevates common moments and subjects with her inquiring mind and fabulous eye. 

Michèle Provost, conceptual artist. She is endlessly creative! Check out her installation at SAW Gallery (SAW Prize for New Works) until July 16.