Conyer Clayton is a queer, disabled writer, editor, musician, and arts educator from Kentucky who now calls Ottawa home. She is the author of But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves. (A Feed Dog Book by Anvil Press, 2022), We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions, 2020, Winner of the Ottawa Book Award), and many chapbooks, most recently, holy disorder of being (Gap Riot Press, 2022) written collaboratively with VII, a poetry collective of which she is a member. Her collaborative chapbook with Manahil Bandukwala was shortlisted for the 2021 bpNichol Chapbook Award, and she is the winner of the 2019 Robin Blaser Poetry Prize and the 2017 Diana Brebner Prize. Her poetry, essays, and criticism appear in Room Magazine, filling station, Best Canadian Poetry 2022, Canthius, Arc Poetry Magazine, CV2, The Capilano Review and others. 

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Photo by Manahil Bandukwala

Poetic's Statement:

"My poetics is very centered in the body and the various ways our experience runs through it. I consider grief, specifically the death of my mother, quite often in my work. Her loss is a thread that runs through all of my chapbooks, my album, and both of my books. I think a lot of how trauma resides within, shifts, and impacts the body throughout time, CPTSD, and familial trauma, especially as it interweaves with loss and grief. My second book, But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves., deals with CPTSD and trauma through the scope of surrealism and dreamscapes. I often use fantastical and surreal elements as a grounding tool for painful or questioned memories, for that which cannot be safely stated. I deal with issues of substance use, recovery, and sex — all of these bodily experiences are very present in my first book We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite, and in newer works. In my current projects, I am grappling more directly with disability (specifically vocal disability and CPTSD), chronic pain, and the climate crisis. How can we survive, thrive, and what impact does all of this have on our embodied, daily experiences? While the focus of my writing shifts, the body is never removed from the equation. It is both the source and the relief from pain, where all our experience begins and ends, where we hurt and also where we, hopefully, heal."

Conyer is a happy member of the creative collective, VII:

VII is seven voices fused into one exquisite corpse: Manahil Bandukwala, Ellen Chang-Richardson, Conyer Clayton, nina jane drystek, Chris Johnson, Margo LaPierre and Helen Robertson. Based on the belief that seven minds are better than one and that many ideas make joyous chorus, we say: We are I and I is VII. Formed in March 2020, VII is based in Ottawa, Ontario, the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg First Nation. Their debut chapbook, Towers, was published in Spring 2021 with Collusion Books. Their second chapbook is holy disorder of being (Gap Riot Press, 2022).

Conyer is a contributing editor to Arc Poetry Magazine, Augur, and untethered, as well as a freelance editor. She teaches poetry to all ages through Poetry in Voice, and offers workshops to a range of ages and levels. Please get in touch if you'd like her to work with you, your writing group, or students.

Conyer's work has been generously funded by the Ontario Arts Council, The League of Canadian Poets, Canada Council, and The Writer's Union of Canada.

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