Canisia Lubrin talks about how poetry helps us to ask better questions

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Canadian poet and York University alumna Canisia Lubrin came to the Canadian Writers in Person Lecture Series to talk about her debut collection of poems, Voodoo Hypothesis. York University Teaching Assistant Dana Patrascu-Kingsley sent the following report to YFile.

The collection of poetry, Voodoo Hypothesis, which was shortlisted for the Raymond Souster Award, explores Black diasporic experience. The collection’s author, Canadian poet Canisia Lubrin, said that in her poems she challenges “the certainties around received or expected narratives that pathologize Blackness.

“As a poet, what I’ve always wanted to be is aware,” she added. “Just sit with the silences of life.” She sees the dissonance in her poetry as a form of enacting the experience of the Black diaspora.

“I intended for discomfort. I intended to disturb,” she said. “Poetry is not about answers. It’s about trying to find better questions to ask.” Her poems look closely at the world and invite us to ask different questions about it, so that we may see it differently.

As Canadian poet Michael Dennis writes in his review of this poetry collection, “Canisia Lubrin is a poet you are going to want to stay in tune with, her voice is the next generation of strong Canadian women. This is a vibrant voice keening with history, richly tempered by the lessons of systemic diaspora and frantic with love disguised as hope and reason.”

Joel Thomas Hynes will be coming to the Canadian Writers in Person Lecture Series on Nov. 20 to talk about his acclaimed novel We’ll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night.

Readings are free and open to any member of the public. For more information, contact Professor Leslie Sanders at or Professor Gail Vanstone at All readings are held Tuesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. in 206 Accolade West Building, Keele Campus.