Photo credit
Cassidy McFadzean

Biography

Cassidy McFadzean was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, graduated with an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and now lives in Toronto. In 2015 she published Hacker Packer, which won two Saskatchewan Book Awards and was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Her poems have appeared in magazines across Canada and the U.S., and she has been a finalist for the CBC Literary Awards and anthologized in The Best Canadian Poetry series. Her work is formally playful, often combining rhyme and pop culture allusions with references to classical mythology and the natural world to explore themes of gender roles, visual arts, and the supernatural. Cassidy’s second collection Drolleries, a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award, was published in 2019.

Micro-interview

Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?

In high school I loved the work of E. E. Cummings. His innovative use of language and unorthodox punctuation seemed to more closely capture feelings of longing and desire than “proper” grammar and punctuation, and was my first introduction to the idea of conveying a poem’s ideas through its structure — the pairing of form and content. His experiments with repetition and sound, which emphasize the musicality of a line, were also greatly influencial to my own writing.

When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?

While I wrote poetry in childhood for my own enjoyment, it wasn’t until university that I began thinking of myself as a poet. I took a workshop at the Sage Hill Writing Experience where I began to understand that more than any other art form, it is through poetry that one might celebrate language and words. In university, the enthusiasm of my first poetry workshop professor was absolutely infectious and I began writing poems about the ordinary world around me —Regina's inner city where I grew up and surrounding prairies — as well as obscure words and esoteric ideas that I was drawn to through books and visual arts.

What do you think a poet’s “job” is?

A poet’s job is to help the reader see the world in new ways, whether through crafting imaginative images, telling the stories of everyday life, or using language that defamiliarizes.

If you had to choose one poem to memorize from our anthology, which one would it be?

I would choose to memorize Don Paterson’s poem "Francesca Woodman," a creepy and unsettling poem that I think would hold my interest in the process of memorization. The poem has a dramatic quality, which lends itself well to memorization, and consists of a series of seven short couplets, all of which are end-rhymed with a consistent meter. While the combination of musicality and subject matter would help me to memorize this piece, I feel more of the poem’s meaning would be revealed each time I read it, which would be incredibly rewarding to the effort I put into memorizing the poem.

Publications

Title
Drolleries
Publisher
McClelland & Stewart
Date
2019
Publication type
Book
Title
Hacker Packer
Publisher
McClelland & Stewart
Date
2015
Publication type
Book
Poem title(s)
Nymph
Title
The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2016
Publisher
Tightrope
Editors
Helen Humphreys
Date
2016
Publication type
Anthology
Start here: