“Bunny Iskov writes poems that skirt the edges and plunge the swirling eddies of sorrow and joy bringing with her the light of language and music of poetry.”
~ John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of Brantford; Poet Laureate of Norfolk County*
Canadian poet I. B. (Bunny) Iskov reminds me of the Energizer® Bunny and the TV commercial where the batteries in the pink-plush, sunglasses wearing, hare “keep going and going and going”. Even the Oxford Dictionary’s description of the generic ‘energizer bunny’ phrase resonates with her character and enthusiasm. She is indeed a “persistent or indefatigable person or phenomenon.”
As the founding member of The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS), she has worked and continues to work tirelessly for this grassroots poetry-friendly organization which currently serves over 250 members. She has launched the writing careers of many emerging poets and embraces and caters to all writers from hobbyists to poet laureates. With the help of her executive, she has created contests, workshops, readings and open mic events. Through Beret Days Press, she has published newsletters, anthologies, and chapbooks for other people.
In 2009, she won the inaugural R.A.V.E. Award – Recognizing Arts Vaughan Excellence –for her work as Art Educator and Mentor in the Literary Arts.
As an organizer and planner, she is simply amazing, but then I must disclose, we have been colleagues and friends for a long time. She is passionate about poetry, loves her family and friends and goes the extra mile to help others. Her own writing often takes a back seat in her busy schedule so I was thrilled when In Our Words Inc. (IOWI) officially released her new poetry book Skirting the Edge last Sunday, November 22 in Mississauga. Bunny also showcased her book at TOPS Autumn Harvest Poetry Gathering, October 18 in Oakville.
I asked her to share her thoughts on her writing process. Below are her responses:
1) Congratulations Bunny on your new book. What inspired you to write it?
The world around me inspires me to write poems. Whether the muse comes from a personal experience, a news item or a work of art, I get motivated and words flow forth on the page.
2) How does your work differ from other writers? What makes it unique and special?
I believe all poets are unique and special. I sometimes will read a poem that I wish I had written and sometimes I get that same compliment from another poet I admire. We all differ in our approach, in our use of metaphor and in our methods to create concrete visual imagery in different ways that are all worth sharing.
3) What is your writing process? And why do you write the way that you do?
I don’t really have a writing process. Sometimes, a few months will go by without a poem, and other times, I may write 2 or 3 poems in a day. It all depends on my muse and on what I may be exposed to that conjures a poem or poems.
4) Who are/were your mentors?
My mentors include Katherine L. Gordon, Ronnie R. Brown, Fran Figge, K.V. Skene, Nancy Walden, Joan Sutcliffe, Marsha Barber, Jean Kallmeyer, Allan Briesmaster, Honey Novick, and you, Debbie Okun Hill.
5) Ha ha! I think it’s the other way around. YOU are one of my mentors. What writing project will you be working on in the future?
I haven’t decided on my next writing project yet. I am taking a cruise this coming January and maybe something on this voyage will awaken my muse to write. I have a lot of personal responsibilities and I must give all of them adequate attention. Writing poetry is a luxury that I must make time for when I have the time, which isn’t as often as I would like.
6) Is there anything else you would like to add about your book, your writing, your past or future?
I am grateful to Ronnie R. Brown, for taking the time to read all of my poems and put them in the best order and make all the sections for the book. I am grateful to John B. Lee and Anna Yin for their kind blurbs on the back of my book and I am grateful to my publisher, Cheryl Antao-Xavier for her expertise in making my book so beautiful. I look forward to writing new poems yet to be created. I know I can count on my all friends to keep me writing.
7) Thanks Bunny. I look forward to reading your new book. The reviews have been most favourable. Enjoy your literary journey!
Below is a review** written by poet Fran Figge:
Skirting the Edge I. B. Iskov In Our Words Inc., 2015, 78pp ISBN 978-1-926926-57-5
Creativity and cruelty are themes woven throughout I.B. (Bunny) Iskov’s latest book, Skirting the Edge. Creativity comes in many forms, from a handmade rug, to a stitched tapestry, from sculpture to painting, from theatre to film. In the book’s first section, the beauty of these diverse forms has been ‘restored by loving hand’ into poetry. Iskov captures their undercurrents, their messages and their whimsy, using her pencil/brush for ‘encapsulating fantastic footage’ of art forms and the artists who created them. Countering the lightness of creativity is the darkness of cruelty. In her middle book section, Iskov states others say she holds “the pencil like a knife”, an apt description of her evisceration of situations of cruelty, violence, alienation and oppression. In Though my Voice Breaks, she writes, “I am a wingless creature / on a hard impenetrable ledge,” nailing the feeling of helplessness experienced by the maligned. Iskov’s poems are a window to her deep and personal encounters with the world. They are also her catharsis. As she reveals in Dreaming of Poetry, “I look for metaphor / inside every human exchange.” These poems are a tribute to the successful realization of that goal.
Meet I. B. Iskov and hear her read at TOPS Winter Warmup Poetry Gathering, Sunday, December 6, noon to 4 p.m. at The Central in Toronto. The event includes a members’ reading followed by an open mic. Everyone is welcome. Reading sign-up will be at the door.
*John B. Lee’s quote appears on the back cover of Skirting the Edge (In Our Words Inc. (IOWI), 2015) by I. B. Iskov. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © Bunny Iskov.
**Fran Figge’s review of Skirting the Edge (IOWI, 2015) by I. B. Iskov will appear in a future issue of Verse Afire (TOPS’ membership newsletter) and was reprinted here with permission from the author.