When I was approached by the Fernie Pride Society to interview Smokii Sumac later this month, I was fascinated and overjoyed to meet him and delve deeper into his poetry and story of origin. Smokii is a 2 spirit Ktunaxa author, PhD candidate and decorated academic poet. In preparation for our interview, I asked Smokii a couple big questions about his work. In the meantime, learn about Smokii and buy him a coffee at smokiisumac.com
1. At what point did you realize you wanted to write and publish poetry?
I have been writing since I was in high school (shout out to David Thompson Secondary’s Creative Writing teachers!), and I don’t think I ever truly thought of it as a career path. It wasn’t until I went to university and was introduced to Indigenous Literatures that I thought, maybe I could write a book someday. That dream came to life with the support of Kegedonce Press, an Indigenous-run press who reached out to me in 2018, and who helped me bring my book you are enough: love poems for the end of the world into being!
2.What has been the most profound experience you’ve had through writing?
I believe in writing for healing, in writing to find the truth, and in a way, I believe I write myself into being. I find the phase of writing that is just me and the words to be the most personally profound for my own journey—giving a voice to experiences that I often haven’t made sense of until they’re on the page. That said, I also believe that the moment of sharing with an audience is… I’m not sure I can say more or less profound, but I can say it feels like a “bigger” experience.
When I’m opening my heart and being vulnerable reading those poems that are pieces of me, whether of my grief, my laughter, my love or rage, there is profundity, for me, in the moment of connection with the audience. In that moment we are all resonating in the feeling of the poem together, and that is an experience I can’t replicate. It takes these exact people in this specific time and place. It doesn’t happen at every show, but more and more, especially in this time since the pandemic lockdowns, I find myself holding the magic of when an audience meets me with an open heart, and I get to feel their own experiences resonating in the room—bringing to life that metaphor of “striking a chord” with someone. There’s an energy of harmony in those moments that lifts me up. It’s an honour to be a part of.
for the love of all
that is queer and brown
for those beautiful disabled bodies for those wedding rings
flashing on husbands fingers men so deeply in
love with each other
a femme with glasses and bangs held onto my glance
later i wept through
readings of learning to love ourselves our bodies
each of our naked
our lipstick and
our binders our canes
this one is simply
for all of our love
which can never be wrong
(from you are enough: love poems for the end of the world, Kegedonce Press, 2018)