Sonnet L'Abbe

Episode 21: Marjorie Rugunda interviews Sonnet L’Abbé (Part 1)

May 17, 2021

In this Part 1 interview, Marjorie Rugunda and Sonnet L’Abbé discuss the book Sonnet’s Shakespeare, with an open and candid discussion on writing and coping strategies during the pandemic, mental health and well-being as it pertains to cultural and academic communities, systemic racism and institutional barriers to anti-racism activism, and how embodied writing practices inform Sonnet L’Abbé’s poetry. The interview begins with a reading of 2 poems from Sonnet’s Shakespeare. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our interview series with Sonnet L’Abbé.


Marjorie Rugunda is a second-year master’s student in the Department of English at the University of Calgary. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Media studies and English literature (Hons) from Rhodes University, South Africa (2017 & 2018).  Marjorie’s research interests are post-colonial literature, African popular imaginaries, and female subjectivities in African literature.

Sonnet L’Abbé is a mixed-race Black writer, professor, organizer and emerging musician of Afro-Guyanese, Indo-Guyanese, and Québecois ancestry, and the author of three collections of poetry: A Strange Relief, Killarnoe, and Sonnet’s Shakespeare. Sonnet’s Shakespeare was a Quill and Quire Book of The Year for 2019, was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the Raymond Souster Award, and longlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial AwardTheir chapbook, Anima Canadensis, won the 2017 bp Nichol Chapbook Award. L’Abbé lives on Vancouver Island and is a professor of Creative Writing and English at Vancouver Island University.

4:00 – Sonnet L’Abbé reads poem #1 from Sonnet’s Shakespeare, which includes performance elements to “voice only silence”

7:40 – L’Abbé reads poem #11 from Sonnet’s Shakespeare

12:23 – Playing music and poetic practice through the pandemic

17:00 – Black Lives Matter and the continuing urgency for antiracism work and calls for justice

26:56 – Navigating mental health in colonial spaces and practices

30:20 – Co-organizing a Black Lives Matter march in Nanaimo

39:42 – Appropriative poetics and background for writing Sonnet’s Shakespeare

45:30 – References to Lillian Allen, Dionne Brand, and M. NourbeSe Philip

TIA House is run by Larissa Lai, Paul Meunier, Joshua Whitehead, Mahmoud Ababneh, Aruna Srivastava, Marc Lynch, Marj Rugunda. and Ryan Stearne.

Our Intro/Outro music is Monarch of the Streets by Loyalty Freak Music, accessed from the Free Music Archive.


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