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  • Writer's pictureLittle Thoughts Press

Interview: Jay Brazeau

A photograph of Little Thoughts Press Issue Four: Autumnatopoeia with a sneak peek of the poem "Autumn Tradition" by Jay Brazeau. A blue page with white text.


Jay Brazeau is an emerging Ottawa-based poet who resides on the outer edge of imagination – a world where cats sport houndstooth jackets, chickens sell eggs and a pigeon’s pockets are packed with popcorn. His poems have appeared in various anthologies, The Caterpillar Magazine, online at Tyger Tyger, and The Dirigible Balloon as well as in the public art project WHAT YOU’D NEVER EXPECT A BEAR TO WEAR (and Other Ironic Outfits).


Little Thoughts Press: Tell us about your What You'd Never Expect A Bear to Wear public art project. What inspired this idea, and based on your own clothing preferences, what animal do you think you'd be?

Jay Brazeau: Think about a tortoise in a tracksuit, a cat in a houndstooth jacket, or a deer in hunting gear. WHAT YOU’D NEVER EXPECT A BEAR TO WEAR (and Other Ironic Outfits) is a collection of 17 poems featuring animals in, if not always ironic, certainly awkward outfits. Poems (and artwork by the enormously talented Meaghan Smith) were printed on 5x7 cards and released (one per week) in parks and playgrounds around my neighborhood. Its intent was to connect with kids in a low-tech and accessible way. I have no idea if it was successful. Of course, Instagram provided a high-tech platform too…as does the website

I’ve always considered myself to be a sparrow – the unassumingly nervous kind that picks up crumbs under a café table. So, I suppose my ironic outfit would be a splendid, velvet dinner jacket. Oooh, la, la!

Little Thoughts Press: Issue 4: Autumnatopoeia celebrates the sounds of the fall season. What is your favorite onomatopoeia? And what is your favorite thing about autumn?

Jay Brazeau: My favorite onomatopoeia is that sad plunger-on-the-trumpet sound – Bwaa, Waaa, Waaaaaa! You know, the sound you hear in your head when your ice cream cone lands on the ground?

Autumn is the harbinger of winter – which is severe where I live. I’m not fond of it. So, as soon as September hits, all I hear is Bwaa, Waaa, Waaaaaa! But I do dig the opportunity to put on a sweater.

Little Thoughts Press: What initially drew you to writing kid-lit and what do you find most challenging and rewarding about writing for a young audience?

Jay Brazeau: People are intended to connect with each other. There are many means to connect. My goal has always been to connect using humour. Writing poetry for children is a tool to use humour to (hopefully) connect with people of ALL ages. The most challenging aspect for me (since I have no kids, nor do I teach them) is to know what interests them. My answer is to channel my own childish nature (which is embarrassingly easy for me to access) and write about what interests me.

Little Thoughts Press: Which kid-lit authors and books were your favorites growing up?

Jay Brazeau: Like many, I grew up on Shel Silverstein – his poetry AND his music. As I got older I thought, “How did the same guy write all these funny, innocent poems, yet lyrics to songs that only adults should enjoy?” But that was Shel’s brilliance – he used many mediums (art, music, poetry and prose – experimenting and pushing boundaries) to connect with people of ALL ages – and always in his own way.

Little Thoughts Press: And what about today? Any kid-lit writers you love and want to shout out?

Jay Brazeau: Those that know me well are tired of me talking about Calef Brown, whose off-the-wall style of writing (and illustration) has me hooked. I’d love to live in that guy’s world for even five minutes.

Little Thoughts Press: What advice would you give to young writers?

Jay Brazeau: Read Calef Brown.

Little Thoughts Press: Is there anything else you wish I had asked? Any upcoming projects, publications, or other news you'd like to share?

Jay Brazeau: Gosh, I have NO NEWS. There’s literally nothing to look forward to. Although maybe someday I’ll do something noteworthy with a ukulele. Stay tuned! But be patient. And kind.


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