Episode 21 – Interview with Joseph Ianni

The Small Machine Talks Episode 21 August, 13, 2017 Joseph Ianni Interview

We ask Joe about his role as a poetry organizer, performance and his own work.

Amanda encourages lying. Joe admits he doesn’t balance his varied roles but loves what he does.

We discuss Facilitate, the series he co-ordinates, which recently had its two-year anniversary and the role of other curators of the series. Joe talks about the series attracting people who aren’t poets. Facilitate’s motto is “we say yes.”

Aaron admits he hasn’t been to Facilitate except via social media and Joe’s stories. Our goal is to attend Facilitate some day.

We talk about ways in which we can make people feel welcome without seeming desperate and cult-like.

Joe doesn’t feel that there’s a literary scene divorced from the rest of the world. Amanda worries about new people feeling not included and tries to avoid that clique feeling. Amanda enjoys a free drink from time to time at readings.


We discuss Trevor Abes, the host on Aug 21.

Joe talks about the frustrating of not achieving goals and the importance of not just doing things out of a sense of obligation.

Aaron asks about cover poems, particularly alphabet by Kaie Kellough, which taught him the alphabet again. Amanda wonders what she’s doing wrong with the alphabet. Kaie reminds Joe that the alphabet is also a song, not just visual.

We talk about Joe’s First Words podcast interview with J.C. Bouchard


Is space the final frontier? We discuss the fourth (third?) space created with the audience and the performer. Aaron talks about the term as used in counseling as a mutual built space where the work is done. Joe mentions the consideration of the space, such as its acoustics and how it changes when people are in a room, which determines how he will read a poem.

Aaron asks about how using the space in a performance is important. Joe has worked in design so he is interested in how space and the dynamics of space factor in to the performance.

Amanda is blown away by Joe’s answers and doesn’t require caffeine. Joe and Amanda talk about how Aaron is not pushy, but he stole her question.

We talk about “heart beating-part 2” in 30 under 30 from Guillaume Morissette’s review of 30 under 30. Joe talks about what’s going on inside the body in order to breathe and wonders how to pay it back. He talks about the body as disembodied other. Joe will sometimes lose track of himself during a performance. Aaron suggests the word “depersonalization,” a way to cope and it can make the performance different.

We talk about strategies before a performance. Aaron worries that his strategy might hold him back from feeling vulnerable on stage. Joe talks about leaving this self in order to connect with a wider self. Aaron mentions the difference between loud or quiet spaces and having to adapt.

Joe talks about the quiet reader. Amanda mentions Sandra Ridley and Caroline Bergvall, their whisper during their readings. Aaron points out the difference between calling up the quietness as transformative vs nervousness.

Amanda learns what crowd-sourcing a poem means. Joe puts out a call on FB about an hour before a set and asks for lines. It’s a way of holding space for those who cannot be at a reading. He allows his body to be a conduit for other people. Aaron wonders what audiences get out of this type of work. Joe says it’s a way of sharing something without being on stage. It’s an acknowledgement that the room isn’t just a closed off space; there are other people, other poets who don’t have the opportunities Joe has.

Amanda talks about how reading others’ words might show people a different aspect of one’s performance. Joe talks about getting a chance to speak their grammar.

Aaron asks about the challenges of being a young poet in 2017 in Toronto.

We talk about living North of Bloor, Etobicoke, and the street names Ottawa and Toronto have in common. Joe talks about the diversity of Toronto, his home, and suggests that it can be scary for young poets. He mentions going to spoken word communities and learning from them. Sometimes it’s ok not to always be included, not to always be the one talking.

Thanks to Joe for being part of the Small Machine Talks. Thanks to Charles Earl for sound genius and Jennifer Pederson for the intro/outro. Thanks to all of you for listening and sharing the Small Machine Talks with all and sundry.

Next episode in early September will be a round up of what’s been going on and what will go on in the  next month. Please join us.