WATCH: An interview with poet Ruth Daniell

Posted by on Dec 15, 2015 in featured alumni, Interviews, Video interviews


Ruth Daniell Plenitude PhotoRuth Daniell is a writer and editor originally from Prince George, BC, who currently lives in Vancouver. Recent work appears or will appear in Room, Qwerty, the Antigonish Review, Grain, and Arc Poetry Magazine. Her poem “Fire and Safety” received the 2014 Young Buck Poetry Prize through Contemporary Verse 2.

Want to see more of Ruth? Keep scrolling to the bottom of the page. You’ll find a video where she lets me know the best possible dessert to have an endless supply of and what writer she would like to have tea with.

What first inspired that spark that made you want to write?

I have always wanted to write. I don’t know if I can pinpoint an origin to the spark, although I suppose for it to be there—and it is—it must have an origin. I grew up around stories and poems. My mother has worked at the main branch of my hometown’s library for as long as I’ve been alive and her love of books has been influential for sure.

What kind of topics are you drawn to write about?

I’m drawn to the same universal topics that I think most writers are attracted to, especially love and longing, and all the different manifestations of those things. I’m interested in how personal experience can lead to the universal experience; I’m fascinated by all the small details that make up huge emotional worlds. I try to get at tenderness and magic and desire and loneliness and the difficulty of loving and of being loved and living in the world. I’m influenced by fairy tales and the family unit and the ways that those ideas inform our expectations of happiness. Often those influences lead me to tell the stories of women, especially those who have been “devoiced” in some way. I’m drawn to stories of trauma but also to stories of healing. This sounds pretty corny but, for me, writing is a kind of mission of love.

Is there some genre or type of storytelling that you haven’t explored yet that you would like to? Ie. graphic forms, creative non-fiction, short story?

I think that I’d like to one day write a novel. Although I’m sure it’s wrongheaded, there seems to be a kind of grandeur attached to long fiction that shorter forms just don’t quite manage. But I’m in no hurry. Right now I am most interested in poetry, children’s literature, and short fiction. Some nonfiction, too.

What are you currently working on and where can people find you?

I’m knee-deep in the edits for Boobs, the nonfiction anthology I’m editing about women’s relationships to their breasts. The anthology is due to be published by Caitlin Press sometime in 2016. I’m really excited about the quality of work that I’ve received. I think the book will be an important one, offering a dynamic and much-needed diverse discussion on a topic that hasn’t been explored in this way before.

I’m always bouncing between projects. Aside from my work as editor, I am also plugging away on two very different poetry projects. One is a collection of children’s poetry that deals with such topics as bedtime, messy food, annoying siblings, magic, and grown-ups who don’t “get it.” Most new poems these days, however, are going into a new collection of poetry that builds on some of my familiar preoccupations—the role of family and societal expectations about desire and the human body—but this time consciously paired with an investigation into the lives of the creatures with whom we share the planet, especially birds and other animals whose migratory habits and habitats are affected by human intervention.

People can find me managing Swoon, my Vancouver-based reading series on love and desire, which I co-host with fellow UBC alum Sierra Skye Gemma. You can find some of my recent work in Room, Grain, Arc Poetry Magazine, Qwerty, and The Antigonish Review. My prize-winning poem “Fire and Safety” will appear in the winter issue of CV2.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

Thanks so much for thinking of me and taking the time to talk with me!

Find more about Ruth at: 

Recent poetry online in The Maynard

Fiction “Daily Bread”, in Synaesthesia Magazine, recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize

Interview by Francine Cunningham, who is the social media executive for the UBC Creative Writing Alumni Association. What does that mean exactly? She is on the Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads accounts and our blog, posting information about our alumni, events and news. She also runs this interview series Alumni Interviews and loves being able to get to know the people who make this association what it is. For more information about Francine and her writing find her at


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