In Orbit: Interview with Former Kingsville Resident, Poet Dianne Joyce

Poet Dianne Joyce. Photo by Mitch Krupp

Dianne Joyce is a former Kingsville resident and University of Windsor Graduate from the early days of Windsor’s Creative Writing Program.  She is currently living in Hanover, Ontario.

Her poems have appeared in Canadian Literature, The Windsor Review, The Antigonish Review, Grain, Room of One’s Own, Event and Descant, Arms like Ladders: The Eloquent She, The League of Canadian Poets: The Feminist Caucus, and Brush Strokes : Community Arts Project inspired by Tom Thompson.

Back in the day, Dianne, and co-editors Douglas Abell and Bruce Iserman edited and published a series of poetry mags called Taproot. Taproot drew poets from Vancouver Island to Marystown, NFLD, also including writers from the U.S., England and Wales.

It takes Dianne about 10 years between each book, but writing is a preoccupation she can’t shake. She says it’s an opening and expanding, and an exploration, so she keeps going with it.

Dianne Joyce’s newest book “Orbit”

Dianne’s books are The Red Madonna; The Lunatic’s Well, published by Black Moss Press, and Stonewear/A Sequence of the Blood, published by Aya Press — a back-to-back publication.

Her latest publication is a book of poems called OrbitIn a review in Mosaic/Owen Sounder, Richard-Yves Sitoski writes:

“I like a poem that doesn’t take the easy way out I don’t mean one that’s difficult to apprehend — quite the opposite — but one that confronts a situation head-on, Dianne Joyce’s poems in her chapbook Orbit possess this directness.

Of Cycling Sitoski says:

This meditation on time possesses a wonderful contradiction.” It contains “… a line I would love to have come up with.  It’s a beautifully upsetting image of the truth.”

The Kingsville Times recently had the opportunity to speak with Dianne.

Kingsville Times: 
Did you write as a child?

Dianne Joyce: 
No I didn’t write as a child, but I did read, memorize, and do dramatic readings from age nine.

How did you get started as a poet? 


I didn’t want to write poetry in my early life. I always enjoyed reading someone else’s poems. I was curious and they were much more interesting to me than anything I could think of. So my first poem was written in a hospital bed after the birth of my first child because I was overwhelmed by my experience giving birth to mother love.

After that, I wrote letters about what I was feeling and experiencing as a new resident of Kingsville, Ontario, which was amazingly different than the town where I grew up on the Canadian prairie.

You’ve written poetry as well as prose. How different is the process for writing each of these?  

After learning the technical elements of poetry writing I realized most of what I wrote came from the heart. “Strong emotion recollected in tranquility,” as Wordsworth suggested.  When I write prose it’s always because I care about the subject, though it’s never quite as intense and pared down as my poetry.

Has your poetry changed since you first started writing?

Some of the subject matter has changed, because I have grown as a person and naturally I have become interested in life in a different way. I always seem to focus on people though. In my early book, Stone Wear, I wrote about being a young feminist, but I loved to write about some of my experience working at a small shop called Rings and Things.

My poetry is more concerned with nature and the environment today, and as a mature woman I am looking back and trying to sort through some of my experiences as a child and young person.

Dianne’s studio

Do you have an audience in mind when you write? Who do you write to?  

When I sit down to write I touch my heart and open myself to what comes forward, so I guess I write for myself first as the poem begins to form itself. Later, I think of who might be interested in the poem. I think of it as a communication with one person, and then I begin to think of a larger  audience.

Do you write in particular places, or at particular times?


I love writing in my studio. It’s about 100 square feet. That probably has to do with the writer Virginia Woolf whose great advice was that a woman writer needs money and a room of her own. But for most of my life, I have picked out a corner or a room where I wouldn’t be disturbed.

I used to write in the middle of the night when my boys were sleeping. It’s how I ended up with an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Windsor. Now I like to write first thing in the morning after I go outside and have a walk to connect with the land.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

I’m not sure I’ve had writer’s block. Because after an intense period of writing I need a period of time to look more closely at what’s there. I have been a yoga teacher for many years so that takes part of my energy, but it informs my writing as well. I think everyone needs other things to concern themselves with, to learn new things and have life experience that will stretch them.

Inside Dianne’s studio

Do you have a mentor or a muse?

I have a mentor. Her name is Lorraine Gane. She is a writer, and lives on Salt Spring Island. She keeps me focused and is a great support to me. I am quite drawn to women writers who call me into their own personal experience.

That’s what Lorraine does in her poetry, as she shares intimate details about being with her fiancé as he is in a hospital bed dying of cancer.  Sara Polley is a prose writer I have recently become acquainted with in her book Run Toward Danger.

As far as a muse? I’ve never been able to figure that idea out, though I guess that works for some people.  However, when I write, sometimes I hear the voices of former profs in my head.

I hear Alistair MacLeod now and then, and that’s always a surprise. It’s usually the voice of one of his characters. I admire the humanity in his writing. I often hear W.O. Mitchell’s famous quote “Life ain’t Art.”  I love that quote.  It’s kind of like Alistair’s example of watching people standing in a grocery line up and describing that which is isn’t all that interesting, unless there’s something else going on.

How do you know when your poem is complete?

That’s just something I feel inside myself, although there are times when I take a second or third look, and I realize there is more to say or that I could say that thought – a sentence or a phrase more efficiently or more interestingly. Then I have to sit with it a while and play with the words.

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to write and publish poetry?

Oh, that’s easy. Just do it, make it the best you can and then share it with someone who is going to give you a heartfelt response. After that you can work on the details of improving what you want to share.

Don’t allow anyone to judge you for what you’ve written. That’s not helpful at all. I began writing poetry in a high school creative writing class as an adult student. I was given encouragement which is what every writer requires.

~ Dianne Joyce’s newest book of poetry Orbit is available from the Ginger Press Bookstore in Owen Sound.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.