Allison Grayhurst

Published on 5 July 2024 at 06:53

Interview of Allison Grayhurst taken by Irma Kurti


ALLISON GRAYHURST has been nominated for “Best of the Net” five times. She has over 1,400 poems published in over 530 international
journals, including translations of her work.  She has 25 published
books of poetry and 6 chapbooks. She is an ethical vegan and lives in
Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay.

When and how did you start writing?

I’ve been writing since grade school. Language and writing have always been integral to my life as both my parents were writers/journalists. When I was five my family moved to Spain for a year so my dad could write a novel. Reciting Shakespeare and other poets at the dinner table was something my father did often. My mother helped me write my first short story and was always a great supporter of my poetry.

Do you remember what was your first poem or story was about?

My first short story was written when I was 12 and it was about a dolphin. My first writing of poetry was never a single poem. Starting at about 14 I would just constantly write pages of freestyle poetry/thoughts/images, trying to find my voice. None of it I kept.

When did poetry become an essential part of your life?

It always has been an essential part of my life. As I child I moved around a lot and so lived more in my imagination than in real life. I didn’t want to be a poet, but finally accepted when I was about 19 that I had no choice. 

You have published 25 books of poetry. What book do you feel connected to the most?

Right now, the book I just published called “The Light Given”, particular the 34-page poem in it called “My Mother’s Sky” which is about the recent loss of my mother. Then maybe “Walkways” for the depths and heights it took me, and “The River is Blind” for igniting a new type of inspiration within me.


What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I love being around animals, they are my joy. Before my mother got sick, I volunteered at an animal shelter, which I hope to start doing again soon. Other than that, reading, spending time with my soulmate husband Kyp Harness, who is a great artist, singer/songwriter and novelist, and hanging with our two adult children, Ava and Clay.


Some years ago the Canadian singer, songwriter and musician Diane Barbarash transformed eight of your poems into songs, creating a full album entitled RIVER. Can you tell us something more about this collaboration and experience?

Diane and I have been close friends since I was 15. She was the person I moved in with when I left home at 16. In our 30s we gradually lost touch as she moved to the other side of Canada. When we got back in touch again, she asked if she could make an album using some of my poems that were written and published years ago. Daine is so talented and has an astounding voice, so of course I said yes! We worked together back and forth through emails as some of the poems had to have the lines adjusted to fit the songs she created out of them. It was a beautiful and meaningful collaboration for both of us, and Diane and I are still the closest of friends.

What are some challenges that you have faced in your literary

In the past I would have said publishing, finding my niche in the publishing world, as well as not having the money to send my work out. But not anymore. The internet has made publishing a lot easier, and I usually don’t have a hard to get my work published when it is ready to be published. Do I wish I had a wider audience? Yes, but I find myself not caring about that as much anymore. So right now, I have no challenges except what I face as an artist to create out of necessity and vitality, never out of habit.

Why do you write?

Because I have to, there is no other reason. Writing is like eating for me and has been for most of my life. There were many times when I told myself I would never write again and many times I never wanted to write again. But now, I’ve stopped thinking that way as I know I am only fooling myself.

Do you think that writing has the power to change our lives?

Writers, poets and philosophers have changed my life over and over again, and even saved my life, so I would say yes, without a doubt.


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