Adrienne Drobnies author photoAdrienne Drobnies is a Canadian poet and scientist living in Vancouver. Her first book of poetry Salt and Ashes was released by Signature Editions in 2019. It won the 2020 Fred Kerner Book Award from the Canadian Authors Association and was long listed for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. Adrienne is a graduate of the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio and received her doctorate in chemistry from the University of California Berkeley. Her origins are in Texas and California and she has spent most of her life in Toronto and Vancouver. Her poetry has appeared in Canadian literary magazines, including The Antigonish Review, Event, Riddle Fence, The Toronto Quarterly, and The Maynard, as well as The Cider Press Review and Sow’s Ear’s Review in the US, and Popshot Magazine in the UK. One of her poems was selected for BC Poetry in Transit 2020. She is an editor of a collection of poetry in French, Poèmes sur Mesure, by her late husband Alain Fournier. Her poetry has received honourable mention in the Compton Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the 2015 Vallum Award for poetry. Her long poem “Randonnées” won the Gwendolyn MacEwen Award for Best Suite of Poems by an Emerging Poet and was a finalist for the CBC literary award for poetry. She is a member of the Entanglements Network – an interdisciplinary network of poets, artists, scientists and scholars.

I once stared a bear in the face in the middle of the night but came to no harm. Years ago, I was assaulted by a stranger on a street in Oakland and escaped. I have written about one and not yet written about the other.

Born the same day Watson and Crick’s paper on DNA structure was received by Nature, twenty-six years later I completed a PhD at UC Berkeley for biophysical studies of DNA. I worked as a scientist for many years at Simon Fraser University and at the Genome Centre in Vancouver. My poetry often turns an observant scientific eye on the natural and human world and has been described as rational mysticism. I am feminist, independent, restless, curious, introspective and questioning of everything, including myself. I sing in one choir that performs world music and another that is political. My Jewish heritage is important to me.

Growing up in Texas, I ran wild and collected fossils from a back alley. I spent most hot summer days immersed in water. It was a place I longed to flee as soon as I could, and did as a young woman, but which left me with a lifelong desire for the taste of watermelons picked fresh from the backyard and daylong smoked barbecue. I had a geographically unstable childhood marked by trauma that I grapple with at times in my poetry.

I’ve lived most of my life in Canada and am grateful to breathe the air, walk along the ocean, and wander through the forests and cities of this land, which has so often helped me to heal and recover. I practice Vipassana meditation and find sustenance there for my writing.

My late husband, a computer scientist and also a poet, was born in France. We lived together there for a time in Grenoble. Out of that experience, I wrote the long poem “Randonnées.”

I am now married to a physics professor and have a grown daughter who is a journalist. In all the challenging and joyful experiences of my life, the one constant has been my writing.

Interview with Rob McLennan
Interview with Bill Arnott