Love is not all: "The Brightest Thing" by Ruth Daniell

The following interview is part nine of a nine-part series of conversations with BC poets which I conducted in April 2019. All nine were originally posted at ReadLocalBC.ca.

Main Characters – Ruth Daniell

I remember one evening in your car, that silver Malibu
with the 7-11 cups rolling in the back. You drove us
up Foothills, rounding our way back up to the Hart,
the radio crooning a cover of The Time of Our Lives
and you told me you didn’t know if you’d ever have what I have.
You were talking about love. I didn’t understand.
The sun was setting in the same colours the pine beetles
had turned the valley, and that were curving in the glint
of the car’s hood: a dry red that fell, too, through the windshield,
across your forehead. I sat silent in your passenger seat, guilty
for daydreaming about my boyfriend, the one
I knew then, already, I would marry. In the fairy tales,
there are never any weddings for two princes. I get it now.
Those silent years must have felt to you like those
the miller’s daughter suffered when she could not speak
without dooming her brothers to be birds, or like
the pained quiet of the little mermaid whose tongue was cut out
because she loved the wrong kind of person, or of the eldest princess
who couldn’t explain how she wore out her dancing shoes,
or like something else I just can’t understand.

Reprinted with permission from 
The Brightest Thing by Ruth Daniell 
(Caitlin Press, 2019).

Rob Taylor: A major theme in your debut poetry collection, The Brightest Thing (Caitlin Press), is stories: what gets told, and how, and by whom. This is explored both in the book’s personal narrative and in its study of the history of fairy tales, where the same archetypes (like Folk Tale Type 425, the “search for the lost husband”) are repeated and repeated, each time slightly changed by the new author. The Brightest Thing describes how certain tales moved from the oral tradition into the writing of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth, Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm (often via their neighbour, and Wilhelm Grimm’s future wife, Dortchen Wild), and then were transformed into 20th century pop culture artifacts by the Walt Disney Company. 

Of that last move, from Grimm (et al) to Disney, you write in the book’s end notes that Disney’s changes “seem to emphasize the role of the saviour/prince and on opportunities to experiment with new visual techniques rather than expanding a community of storytelling.” Could you unpack that quote a bit? How do you believe a “community of storytelling” should deal with these stories, and in what ways did Disney (and perhaps others) neglect to do this? Do you see your book as an answer, and an alternative, to Disney’s approach?

Ruth Daniell: You’re right to note that by putting a personal narrative alongside an engagement with the history of fairy tales I am hoping to contribute to something I’d like to think of as a community of storytelling. I think that many fairy tales—whether they’re the folk tales we receive (via Dortchen Wild and other sources) through Grimm, Perrault, and von Schönwerth, or those literary ones written by Andersen, Mme d’Aulnoy, and Mme’ Leprince de Beaumont—have been the most useful, and the most personally transformative, when they were offered as part of community-building. The original folk tales were shared from teller to teller and adapted to comment on, and console against, local fears.

Then literary fairy tales, when those folk tales were first brought into the Parisian literary salons and institutionalized, were used to question the aristocratic society of the time. Although we tend to remember Charles Perrault—a man—most of all, it was really a lot of women who were mastering the old folk tale motifs and reworking them to comment on contemporary society. They were dreaming up magical solutions to their problems. The stories were now preserved in books, and interest in them grew, but the oral tradition continued to flourish simultaneously alongside the newer literary versions, and there was lots of borrowing and trading of folk motifs that went on and enriched the stories.

The move from books to film was more dramatic. Disney’s versions of fairy tales are the ones with which Western audiences are now most familiar. The films are so skillfully done, and the marketing so relentless, so attractive and addictive, that they tend to subsume the versions of the stories that came before them. This is by design, really: the fairy tale as story is used as a vehicle for animators to express their talents and develop their technology. Actually, in one way, films bring the fairy tales back to a wider community; the stories are simplified, the gags and jokes and emotions made accessible to a wide audience in a way that the move from public oral storytelling to private literary reading did not. For example, in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937), the dwarves are given individual names and personalities and have their own peculiar visual quirks and gags. These antics allowed the animators to show off their skills—the new visual techniques you asked about—and aren’t there for any particular storytelling necessity. They’re just fun, and impressive from a technological standpoint.

Of course, what most annoys me about the Disney films now is the emphasis on the male role in this idea of “happily ever after.” The idea of “true love’s first kiss” revolves around the prince’s ability to swoop in and save the princess and represent everything her heart desires. But this “true love’s first kiss” is almost entirely Disney’s invention; it’s not nearly as frequent an occurrence in fairy tales as is believed in our popular consciousness. Out of the most well-known fairy tales, the only one that pivots on “true love’s first kiss” is Sleeping Beauty, and even then that’s only in some versions—in older stories, Sleeping Beauty is woken up when, after having been raped while asleep, she gives birth to twins. One of the babies suckles at her breast, and the other manages to suck the splinter from the spindle out of her finger and thus wake her.

Whether bestowing true love’s first kiss or not, however, the male role in Disney movies do tend to be maximized, whether or not he was important to the original story. Disney was looking to establish himself as the king of animation. The way in which he adapted his fairy tale material, including framing the narrative through the presence of the prince, served to celebrate the enterprising young (male) hero who earns his reward through hard work and ingenuity, outwitting his opponents to achieve his happily ever after. There are pretty compelling reasons to think that many of his films, including Snow White, were autobiographical: Disney’s own rags-to-riches story of rising to the top of the animation industry. To quote Jack Zipes, author of Breaking the Disney Spell, Disney wasn’t looking “to explore the deeper implications of the fairy tale narrative and its history.” I am. My hope is to explore those implications, its history, and the way it plays out in our contemporary society and my own personal life. Like some of the fairy tale tellers before me, perhaps like Mme d’Aulnoy or Dortchen Wild, I’m looking to see what is hidden in the stories that I can bring out and offer in our present moment.

Rob: Wow! It’s always humbling to think of how much research and thought is tucked away—often almost invisibly—in someone’s poems. Thank you for bringing some of your background work to the foreground here.

One theme you’re bringing forward from these stories is imperfection. The book’s titular “brightest thing” itself is a jester’s hat the speaker’s father wore in a photo, when he was expected to wear a crown. It’s the one thing in the photo that didn’t “belong,” and it ends up being the most memorable part of the photo. The Brightest Thing interweaves expectations of perfection and purity, as captured in the princesses of fairy tales, with the speaker’s experience of being raped by her first boyfriend, and her subsequent journey to move forward with her life. In the process, both become more complete through an embracing of “imperfection”: the perfect princesses are made more flawed, nuanced, and human, and the speaker begins to be able to heal (“One day it occurs to her that the act of love / might not be a gift he stole / but might, in fact, never have been precious at all”).

What do you think the traditional fairy tales taught young female readers about imperfection, when compared with the Disney versions? To what extent do you think the personal narrative of the speaker aligns with that of many of the fairy tale characters, and in what ways do they diverge?

Ruth: The Disney versions are just meant to delight their audiences, I think. They’re full of humour and beauty. They’re pleasurable to watch. Of course, this pleasure is a little limited by the images, too—the images are very specific and so the audience may not envision a fairy tale for themselves in the same way as they might while reading or sharing the story aloud. This is where representation becomes so important. My favourite literary fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast. Part of the reason I latched on this story when I was a child was because the protagonist, like me, loved books and felt like an outsider amongst her peers, but I’m not fooling myself into thinking that I didn’t primarily like Belle because she looked like me: out of all the princesses, she was the only one with brown hair and brown eyes. (I try to imagine being a child of colour and wanting to be a princess and it makes me sad, though I know representation has gotten better.)

I fear that one of the things that the Disney versions teach their audiences is the importance of physical beauty, and a specific unrealistic, thin, usually white, clean, tidy, heteronormative, unthreatening kind of physical beauty. There’s not a lot of room for imperfection there. And that’s on purpose, of course, because if the Disney movies are meant to be entertaining, meant to be showcases of the animator’s skills—and as far as I know, today’s Disney studio is still at the top of that technological race—then there’s no room for imperfection. All the images must be perfect, the characters drawn in sharp ink lines and pretty colours and synchronized precisely with the film’s sound.

While the traditional fairy tales do emphasize female beauty and virtue—and that virtue is usually depicted in their skills in domestic work—I think there’s more wiggle room in the stories to interpret how we see the characters and how we see ourselves in the characters. And it’s easy to imagine how the stories would have altered from telling to telling, from teller to teller, to include regional or personal details.

The speaker in The Brightest Thing—the autobiographical “I” of the book—sees herself as both a princess and not a princess, as someone who does and does not qualify for a “happily ever after,” because of what she blames herself for and learns not to blame herself for. The main difference between me and the fairy tale characters is that I live in the contemporary world, and I have more time and access to people and tools and resources that help me cope with my trauma. And one of those resources is, of course, fairy tales themselves.

Rob: This blurring/comparing of the fairy tales and the speaker’s narrative is central to one of the most fascinating poems in The Brightest Thing, “Learning to Be Two.” The poem is broken up into “she” sections, written in the third person, and “I” sections, written in the first person. Both tell the same story of the speaker coming to terms with her rape, years earlier, and finally telling her parents about it, with the support of her new boyfriend. But of course they aren’t the “same”: the perspective shift changes how we engage with the content; how intimate and immediate it feels. Between the two parts is a meeting place of “stories” and “real life,” though that real life is not entirely, or necessarily, yours as the author (the book’s description reads, “The Brightest Thing tells the story of a young woman…”). So the “real” becomes a story and the story perhaps a bit more real.

Could you talk about writing this book in this way, where the narrative hews closely to your own life and also moves far away from it into the worlds of centuries-old fairy tales? If the book is pursuing a “truth,” is it yours? Or does it move beyond you? Is it a narrative truth, or something else? 

Ruth: Oof. Big questions. Yes, “Learning to be Two” is a deliberate juxtaposition/blending of perspectives. Part of the intent is to mimic the way that talking about yourself in the third person can be a very useful coping mechanism post-trauma. But as you mention, it also lends a sort of un-real/magical fairy tale sheen to the personal story, which has its own uses—and is a particularly relevant approach within a book that wrestles with the ways in which the fairy tale lens can be harmful or healing. I wanted to be okay with sitting in clichés and in contradictions. I mean, fairy tales are full of them—and so is life, and the whole idea of living and loving is messy and weird anyway. Why not explore that? Perhaps that’s the truth the book is pursuing. Love is good. I want that to be true. It is true. But how we define love is not always good, and how we pursue it is not always good. That’s getting to the narrative truth of the fairy tale.

It’s one of my dearest wishes that the truth of the book moves beyond me. I really hope that this book finds it readers, and they can find something beautiful and useful in it.

Rob: Which came first, the interest/research in fairy tales or the desire to tell a more personal, present-day story? Did writing about one induce in you a desire, or necessity, to explore the other?

Ruth: As a poet, I’ve always been interested in the personal, and as a person living in the world I’ve always been interested in fairy tales. The Brightest Thing arose out of the simultaneous desires to explore fairy tales and to explore the ways in which present-day stories mirror and diverge from fairy tales—to connect to that community of storytelling we talked about earlier.

I’ve been interested in fairy tales since I was a small child, and I think you could say I’ve been researching them since I first read an authentic retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid and was mortified to discover that not only does she not get the happily-ever-after that the Disney version portrays but that she straight-up dies at the end of the story: I was an extremely furious fourth grader that week. That was probably a formative experience for me. I remember very distinctly the single-headed determination I had when I then proceeded to read every single fairy tale book that my elementary school library had. I was going to find out what other lies the movies had been telling me about my favourite characters. Of course, I didn’t stop loving the movies, but I also became more and more entranced by the strange, sometimes sad beauty of the original stories.

I’ve always felt some kind of urgency about the importance of fairy tales and the injustices that the female characters face (that poor mermaid!), and this sat discontentedly with my rather typical little girl’s desire to be a princess and grow up and live happily ever after. This discontent got more sophisticated as I grew up, gained life experiences both good and bad, and became, almost concurrently, a feminist and a married woman.

Rob: Fourth-grade-you gets her chance to set things straight in the second section of the book, “The Princess Who Felt the Pea,” which is a series of dramatic monologues delivered by female fairy tale characters. This feels like a feminist revision on multiple fronts: the content itself, but also the form, which has most famously been connected to male poets (I’m thinking of Browning, Tennyson, Arnold, etc.,—Browning’s “My Last Duchess” looming largest). When in the writing of the book did you come upon the idea of doing this? Was your goal primarily the idea of giving these silenced or sidelined women a voice (and a voice within a dramatic monologue, at that), or was it more about the particulars of what they had to say?  

Ruth: What a fun question! The book began with the dramatic monologues. The first seed of the book really took hold years ago when I first read Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (which is not a fun play at all). One of the characters is Titus’s daughter, Lavinia, and her story—which is horrific—gets swept under the rug for the sake of the male characters’ own drama and folly, and that really struck me. I wanted to know more about her; enough about all the nonsense with the men and their war and pride and treacheries. Lavinia is quite literally silenced—her rapists cut off her tongue as well as her hands—and unable to tell her story. She spends most of the play in the background as a pitiful ornament, the perfect victim, and generally we’re expected to be sad about her because of what it means for her father and his reputation; he ends up “mercy” killing her because her purity and beauty are forever tarnished. I wanted to know Lavinia’s story, but I wanted more than just her unhappy ending. Who was she before she was a victim? What did Lavinia say and think about before her tragic wedding day? She didn’t stop being her because of what happened to her, and yet we often treat survivors of (sexual) violence like that: we define them only by the trauma they’ve experienced.

So yes, I wanted to give these silenced women a voice, but I also wanted to know the particulars. Not just the “facts” of the trauma (“this and this” happened or she was a victim of “such and such”), but the impact of it beyond the initial experiences. I wanted to know who these people were before their trauma but also because of it—the aftermath of it. We tend to completely dismiss trauma once the women get their “happily ever after.” Oh, you get to marry the prince, so all the hardship you’ve endured before was totally worth it, right? But of course that’s so dreadfully simple. I have to imagine that a pretty wedding—for those who get a wedding, and obviously that isn’t the case for every character—wouldn’t erase those difficult memories. They’d be bound to have some serious trauma to bring into their true love unions. How did they cope?

Awful things happen to characters in fairy tales. Lavinia’s counterpart in the Grimms’ stories lives but still goes through terrible violence. Fairy tale characters endure abusive (step)parents, vindictive (step)siblings, starvation in the woods, punishing manual labour, torture, sexual violence, the wrath of corrupt kings or witches or ogres…. What did the Little Mermaid’s sisters think about her dying for the sake of a human man who didn’t love her? Did the princess who married the frog king ever feel guilty about nearly killing him when she threw his amphibian body against her bedroom wall? How could the giantess have withstood being married to the bloodthirsty giant—and how could she live without him after he fell from that beanstalk? Did Sleeping Beauty ever blame her parents for failing to protect her from the spindle’s curse? After seeing past his physical ugliness, did Beauty ever doubt the Beast’s love matched her own?

Rob: On the far more mild end of curses and hardships, in “Waiting for Spring, or Something,” you write “I’m still sad here in the city’s / never ending construction, its building and babble.” That very much sounds like Vancouver! You’ve lived in many different parts of BC: Prince George, Victoria, Vancouver, and now Kelowna. Those moves have involved being further from, and closer to, both your family and the world you were familiar with in your childhood. What effect did being in each city have on what you wrote: both the subject matter and the tone? Which city do you attach this book to most readily in your mind?

Ruth: Oh, yes, in my mind this book is most firmly attached to Vancouver, its rain and bustle and loneliness and beauty, and the life I began there. Although we met in Victoria and held our wedding in Prince George, my husband and I spent our newlywed years in Vancouver and it’s where The Brightest Thing was written (with some late addition exceptions since our move to the Okanagan). Each move did have an effect on what I wrote. In particular, when I was in Vancouver, it was easy to become homesick for Prince George, especially during the winter—the West Coast rain was hard on my mental health—and that homesickness leaked into the poems. The poem you mention, “Waiting for Spring, or Something,” explicitly looks backward to Christmas in my hometown. It’s a self-aware idealization of time and place. I think it’s easy to get nostalgic about the past and build it up so that places seems more mythic and beautiful than they might actually have been—our own lives can take on a “once upon a time” quality that we’d like to return to but can’t. I play with that idea—through Prince George, Victoria, and Vancouver—in the book, in part because it works with the idea of looking at my own life, whether happy or sad, as a fairy tale, and also because it grounds the book in the real, contemporary world, which was also important to me.

Rob: Moving to another part of the province, The Brightest Thing was published by Caitlin Press, located on the Sunshine Coast. Though this is your first book, it wasn’t your first time working with Caitlin Press, as you edited an anthology with them (Boobs: Women Explore What It Means to Have Breasts) back in 2016. Did working on that anthology give you any insights which helped you in the writing of your own book?

Ruth: The Brightest Thing already existed in a complete draft by the time that I was working on Boobs. Working on Boobs was a wonderful way to feel engaged with the writing and publishing world and a lot of the feminist, female-body-centred issues that fascinate me while also giving myself time away from The Brightest Thing. I think working on Boobs, and the world of non-fiction, after spending so long entrenched in the world of fairy tales, was useful in terms of keeping me grounded and productive. The success of Boobs, too, gave me a little nudge of confidence as I returned my editing eyes to The Brightest Thing.

The deeper I got into The Brightest Thing the more complex the project got. I realized I had to spend more time making sure that I was being as responsible to the subject matter as I could before the manuscript was ready to be published, but the project was (is!) so dear to me, and felt so urgent, it was difficult to set it aside and gain some necessary distance. Working on Boobs provided a distraction and helped me return to the editing stage of The Brightest Thing with new energy. Of course, Boobs was another project that was extremely meaningful to me in its own right. I’m still reeling from how amazing the experience of working on the anthology was. I believe Boobs is intelligent and necessary and community-building. It’s my hope that The Brightest Thing will prove itself useful too.

Rob: It’s rare that a poet can edit a large anthology before publishing a book of their own. How did you convince Caitlin to get Boobs made? (I never though I’d write that sentence.) Did working with Caitlin on this book grow out of working with them on the anthology? More generally, what role would you say Vici Johnstone and Caitlin Press had in making The Brightest Thing what it is today?

Ruth: Honestly, I just pitched the idea of Boobs to Vici and she was immediately enthusiastic about the idea. This isn’t very humble of me, but the idea for the book was just a really, really, really good idea. No one had done it yet! And the idea was mine, which I think was reason enough at the time to trust that I would be a good editor for the project. I’m very grateful for the amount of trust and space that Caitlin Press gave me for Boobs, and enormously grateful to all the writers who submitted pieces to me.

For The Brightest Thing, once again Vici Johnstone and Caitlin Press really supported me and my vision. Working with Caitlin has been very positive. And can I just say how delighted I am with the cover design that Vici made for me? It’s exactly what I hoped for. Vici found the image for the book. The illustration is by a woman named Virginia Frances Sterrett whose career really ought to be as celebrated as those of Edmund Dulac, Kay Nielsen, all those other (male) canon artists of the Golden Age of Children’s Illustration. I wish I’d known about Sterrett earlier. I might’ve written a poem for her in the same spirit in which I wrote for Dortchen Wild and Mme d’Aulnoy.

Rob: The last poem in The Brightest Thing, “Book of Alternative Services,” hints at the possibility of children in the speaker’s life, in the form of a cat-as-baby proxy (“Can’t fool me, you say, what you want is a baby…”). You now have two children—almost! My wife and you share a due date for our second babies: our baby has just arrived and yours very well might have by the time this interview is posted. I think having children invariably alters how we think about fairy tales, and about the people we were when we first consumed fairy tales in story books, Disney movies, etc. Did having your own children shift how you thought about your subject matter, either at the time of composition or during your final edits for the book?

Ruth: Congrats to you and your wife on your growing family! I love babies.

I don’t think having children (Ah! Plural!) changed the book during its final edits (aside from slowing it down—as you well know, babies are very time-consuming), but I do think about how and when I’ll share fairy tales with my children. When I lived in Vancouver and was composing the first drafts of the book, I was teaching K–12 speech arts full-time, and then, as now, I used fairy tales in the classroom quite often as ways to teach the traditions of storytelling, and the performance of storytelling (versus the performance of memorized or read prose). Fairy tales are just so rich—there’s so much to be mined there—and they really do resonate in the mind in a way which seems magical, or sacred, or primal, or necessary (but which of course psychologists and other writers have tried to research and explain in less mystical terms). Fairy tales talk about our most basic desires and fears—of possessiveness and abandonment, of poverty and wealth, of starvation and greed, of loneliness and love. I know they have their problems—I wrote a book about them!—but I also think they’re wonderful. They still deserve a place on our bookshelves.

I think there are responsible ways to share fairy tales—by sharing a diverse range of them, by talking critically about the ways in which gender, class, violence, love, etc. is depicted in them—and I think it’s worth doing that work to do so. They’re worth preserving and adapting and telling and retelling and making our own. And wasn’t that one of their original purposes anyhow, back in the age of oral storytelling? To build community, to share stories, to pass on dreams of wish-fulfillment, to come up with ideas for problem-solving, ways to safely criticize the way that others hold power over us and to discover happiness?

Our daughter has a very minimum amount of anything Disney or princess—although we’re open to that changing as she begins to have her own preferences—but she does have a few board books that depict fairy tales, and I recently achieved “Peak Ruth” when she pointed at the princess in one of her books and declared that the character was “Mommy.” I look forward to sharing fairy tales with her—and her sibling—as she grows up and to the conversations we’ll be able to have about her ability to tell her own story.

Rob: Congratulations to you as well! In many ways it does seem like you’ve found your “happily ever after” (I mean, yeesh, you’re even a princess now!). Perhaps that’s why, in the last section of the book, the place reserved in most fairy tales for the “happily ever after,” you chose to include poems about depression, self-harm, arguments, etc. The end of the book is still very much a happy one, but it’s a realistic type of “happy.” On this subject, you write, “the happily ever after / is the return to the disenchanted life” and, elsewhere, the speaker’s love is described, via the moon, as “perfectly ordinary and rare.” Why was it important for you to end the book in this way?

Ruth: “Love Is Not All (Sonnet XXX)” is one of my favourite sonnets—do you know it? Not everyone loves Edna St. Vincent Millay (I gather you’re more of a William Carlos Williams guy)...

Rob: No, I actually lean toward Millay (she’s just far less meme-friendly). “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)” is one of my favourite poems. I hadn’t read “Love Is Not All,” though, and now you have me crying. I’m going to blame the sleep deprivation!

Ruth: “What lips my lips have kissed…” is another of my favourites. I’m pleased I got to be the one to introduce you to “Love Is Not All” (and I wish you a good night’s sleep!).  It’s a lovely poem, isn’t it? “Love is not all” is a recurring thought behind much of my poetry, although any direct reference to Millay left the book many revisions ago. We have other needs—food, water, shelter, medicine—that are arguably more important than love, but we tend to treat love, especially romantic love, as if it can cure anything that’s wrong in our lives. Fairy tales tend to propagate that idea, as I mentioned before; it’s as if we believe that achieving the “happily ever after” will make our other problems go away. That’s not true. We’re still going to be sad sometimes. Maybe even more than sometimes. We may still struggle with depression, with self-harm, with arguments, with the aftermath of sexual violence and other traumas, with sexism and homophobia and all kinds of awful things. Love, even good love, can’t make all the bad stuff go away. But good love is still really… good—and good love can come from anywhere, not just from romantic partners. It can’t magic the bad stuff away but it can help.

You’re right that it was important for me to be honest about the messiness, maybe even improbability, of “happily ever after” but it was also important for me that it did end on the hope for a kind of “happily ever after”—probably because I’m still just a romantic at heart and always will be, but also because I think that we need to be honest about how restorative and nourishing love can be. It’s usually easier to believe in the bad stuff than in the good, but I need more tenderness than I need bleakness, and I think that’s true for everyone.

Rob: What do you think a younger version of yourself would think of this more honest “happily ever after,” and what would you say to her about it, if you had the chance?

Ruth: I think a younger version of myself would probably be pretty okay with this more honest “happily ever after.” I’m not sure what I would say to her if I had the chance. Maybe I’d point out to her that the majority of her “good love” people—the people who love her well and who she will love for her whole life—are already in her life. I might tell her not to be impatient for her “true love” to come along, though he will. I’d remind her to spend time with those lovely people she already has in her life. I’d tell her to go hug her mom, dad, brother, her best friend Matt. And if I was daring I might tell her that all four of them will one day make pretty darned spectacular, very moving speeches on her wedding day. And even later down the road, that every single one of them will insist on a signed copy of her book of love poems.

Ruth Daniell is an award-winning writer whose poems have appeared in Arc Poetry MagazineGrainRoom magazine, Qwerty, the Antigonish Review, and Event. The recipient of the 2013 Young Buck Poetry Prize with CV2 and the winner of the 2016 Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest with The New Quarterly, Daniell is the author of The Brightest Thing (Caitlin Press, 2019) and the editor of Boobs: Women Explore What It Means to Have Breasts (Caitlin Press, 2016). She holds a bachelor of arts degree (honours) in English literature and writing from the University of Victoria and a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. She lives with her family in Kelowna, BC.

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