Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gettin' Busy with Shannon Rayne!

February 25th will see Shannon Rayne entertaining us from the Solstice Stage. So we here at ToF ran her through the standard boilerplate and got some seriously non-standard answers...

ToF: So... what's with all the sex in your poetry?

The less sex I seem to actually have in my life, the more I write about it!

Seriously, the erotic poetry started out as a joke. For an erotic themed slam, I set out to write the most anti-erotic thing I could think of – scrubbing dirty dishes (because I thought erotica was silly). I had so much fun writing the Dirty Dishes Poem the metaphor ran away on me. I ended up with a both a political and a sexy poem!

ToF: Have you always been this racy and how do you feel this serves the feminist aspect of your poetry?

For me, the desire to celebrate, ask for and receive great sex is a feminist act because you first have to recognize that you are worth it, and celebrate your own body and unique desires.

Almost all of my sensual poems are women focused. When I set out to write an Ode to Cunnilingus I was shocked that it didn’t already exist on the internet. There are countless (mostly bad poems) about giving head to men, but none that celebrated one of the biggest sexual pleasures in a woman’s life, the ‘Southern Kiss’.

ToF: So, it's about time! Nice. Please tell us a little about dinosaurs and why they make the best subjects for racy poems...

Dinosaurs were huge, large, primitive, savage….does this not cry out ‘sexy’?!

Seriously, Ferno House Press did a call out for ‘Dinosaur Porn Poems’ for a new anthology. They envisioned ‘dinosaur’ to be either the large prehistoric animal, or the *idea* of being extinct, not adapting well to change or being enormous in size. I wrote about the latter: primitive desires, outdated ways of thinking about sex, and of course what one can do with something unwieldy in size! Three of my poems appear in anthology.

ToF: If you had to label yourself as an artist, what would it be? Poet? Performer? Spoken Word Artist? Slam Poet? Why?

My new favorite term is creative literary artist! But I usually call myself a performance poet.

I AM ABSOLUTELY NOT A SLAM POET! A slam is an event. In my eyes, there is no such thing as a slam poet. I am a poet that participates in the slam.

ToF: Aha! Good answer. The right answer!

My poems (even the ones you will hear on a slam stage) appear in literary journals, in video poems, in a fun DJ track, and in text based mixed media art installations in an art gallery. Once, I even turned a long poem into a character driven monologue that interrupted a Shamanic ritual as part of performance art event. The term slam boxes performance poets in. I don’t like boxes.

I like to be different, and I enjoy exposing different audiences to poetry in unexpected ways.

ToF: How did you feel the first time you stepped up a mic to read what you had written? How long ago was that?

I was so terrified I asked every musician friend I had to join me on stage to play behind the poem. That was about 4 years ago.

ToF: You were a member of the Winnipeg Slam Team in 2007. What lessons did you pull from that experience?

**Believe** in yourself, in your own art and unique way of artistic expression (especially if you do not sound like the popular poets) because if you don’t love your own voice and poetry why would anyone else.

ToF: Last time you featured at ToF was during our 07/08 season... how have you changed since then?

I think my two posters say it all! My first one featured a dial from a 1950s oven, claiming that I was ‘Winnipeg’s softer, gentler slam poet’. This year’s poster features a bikini clad, warrior woman firing an arrow at a growling triceratops!!

The first time I was the soft spoken girl from the prairies that had little experience on a stage. Since moving to Vancouver, I’ve been exposed to larger raucous audiences hunger for stronger voices.

Unlike the dinosaur, I have adapted well to the change in my environments!

ToF: What's the next poetry-related goal you want to fulfill?

I’d like to perform poetry with a musically inclined group and I would like to have a book of poems published in the next five years.

ToF: What is the poem you haven't written yet? You know, the poem that you aspire to write.

When sex goes wrong.

33 % of all women will experience at least one episode of sexual pain or discomfort during intercourse at some point in their life (I used to be a women’s health researcher).

I want to write a poem for those women, to expose their secret suffering, to inspires them to seek help, to understand their own bodies and to demand responsible and timely health care and understanding from their partners because the psychological and physical pain can be managed, transformed and even celebrated.

I like a big but worthy challenge, I guess.

ToF: What are the subjects that are really inspire / engage you?

I still got a thing for kitchens, domestic work, and the silent distance between people, but it has expanded now to uncertainty, escapism and the unspoken.

ToF: We'll forgo the standard "poetry as ice cream flavour" question and just go for the gusto: if your poetry was a fornicating dinosaur, what dinosaur would it be and in what position?

A Therizinosaurus (because it looks unlike the others) trying out everything until she and her lover are mutually satisfied!

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