Playful but Pointed


We’re so excited about stephanie roberts’s new poetry collection, rushes from the river disappointment. She answered a few questions for us about the book, available here.

Her poems, “Ectopia Cordis” and “Black Conversation” are in our Spring 2020 issue.


Congratulations on the publication of your collection, rushes from the river disappointment! Is there a poem you feel is a good representative of the collection as a whole, or do you have a current favorite? Can you describe one of those poems or quote us a couple of lines?

Thank you, I’m excited to see this collection released into the wild. Wallace Stevens said that the poet’s subject “… is his sense of the world. For [the poet], it is inevitable and inexhaustible.” My opening poem, “People Believing Badly,” gives vivid representation of my ethos and obsessions—highlighting elements that are playful but pointed. If you hate that poem you will probably hate the book, but if the reader is intrigued, as I hope, there is that and more to follow.


“those of us who’ve seen miracles know how to ask

if you’ve asked, do you love me, i almost certainly

don’t love you.”


What was the process of finding the right publisher like?

Fantastic good fortune. I was reading at VERSeFest Ottawa 2019 for Arc Poetry Magazine, Montréal poet Harold Hoefle, who published his debut The Night Chorus (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018), was scheduled for the same evening. He read my bio prior to the event and suggested my name to Mark Abley the acquisitions editor at MQUP. Mark contacted me and asked if I would send him a manuscript et voilà!


Any advice for other people about to publish their books?

Yes, as someone who self-published my first book, I’d like to caution writers considering self-publishing that a self-published book usually isn’t credited as a legitimate publication if you are interested in things like grants, awards, and some book prizes, but they may disqualify your subsequent publications for the same prizes (a first book prize for example) when or if you publish with a traditional publisher. To champion and control the production of your work has its benefits, choose wisely. It was a bit of rude awakening for me. Self-publishers might consider chapbook-length collections instead.

stephanie roberts is the author of the poetry collection rushes from the river disappointment (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020). A widely published Quebec-based poet, she has work featured in Poetry Magazine, the League of Canadian Poets, The BreakBeat Poets: LatiNEXT (Haymarket Books, 2020), and elsewhere. She won first prize for Black Mountain Press’s The Sixty-Four: Best Poets of 2018.