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Yoda Olinyk


The author of "Homemade Pepper Spray" in ISSUE 03 and her thoughts on healing the mother wound, visualizations, and using rejection as a way to reflect. 

What are you reading these days? Do you love/hate/feel neutral about it, and why?


I am currently doing a lot of reading about mothering and healing the mother wound. Women Without Kids by Ruby Warrington is at the top of my reading pile but I’m trying to psych myself up to read it. I just finished Motherhood by Sheila Heti and it kindof rocked my world (in a good way!).


Have you read a passage of writing that deeply shifts something inside you, if so, please share it with us? 

"Men want to control women's bodies by forbidding them abortions, while women try to control other women's bodies by pressuring them to have kids. It seems so strange and true and I realize that both are working toward the same end... children." 

Sheila Heti, Motherhood


When you are working on a piece, what inspirations do you draw from?


I am a very Type A person so when I set my sights on something, I draw inspiration from envisioning myself finishing the piece. I usually visualize it being published in the right place, having the type of readers who will appreciate and love it.


Who/what are some of your writing obsessions, and why?


I write a lot about sobriety and recovery from addiction as this is an issue that always lands with me and I can always find something beautiful or haunting to say about it. I also love reading and writing about grief from the lens of very fresh grief, rather than healed grief. As my bio states, I like the sharp corners of life. 


What are some ways in which you remain productive/find time to be a writer? 


I left my full-time job last December so I could pursue writing full-time… so I have no choice but to be productive in it! I do however find there are many days where things just don’t come to me, and when that happens I usually put everything on hold and read for 20 or 30 minutes. Just looking at words, carefully sewn together, is often enough to inspire me!


Tell us what your writing space look like.


I love this question because I love showing off my writing space! I cleanse my space every single day (with sage and palo santo) and you can see 7-8 different crystals at all times. If you turn to your left, you’ll see my massive, colour coded, super organized to-do list (which I call my Devotion Wall) and then to the right, you’ll see a jungle of house plants that hang out in front of a big window overlooking my backyard and neighborhood. If you look down, you’ll see my yoga mat and alter, and likely my dog by my feet!


What are some ways in which you get through a block in your creative work?

Visualizations have always really helped me, so I imagine the block being gone, and then I imagine my writing as a wide open field. If that doesn’t help, I usually take a step back or take a week-long pause from whatever I am trying to work on and let it be for a while without me tinkering with it. Words need space too!


How do you navigate the experience of submissions/rejections/acceptances?


I aim to get 50 rejections every single year so every time I get one, I know I am working towards a goal! The trick is to not take it personally. When some of my work is rejected, the editors are making a calculated decision, the same way I make choices every day that are not at all personal. I think of every rejection as a chance to reflect and try again… and when a piece does finally get accepted, it feels extra good knowing how hard it worked to get there.


Regarding your piece in Issue 03, what does it mean for/to you?


My piece "Homemade Pepper Spray" is one of the most raw pieces I’ve ever written. It is about a moment in my life in which I was stalked, and I have never felt quite comfortable writing about it until now. I sat on this poem for months before I submitted it and was honestly very nervous to see how people respond to it. I’m hoping people can feel my fresh grief and resonate with how scary it is to be in that position. 


Do you have a recent publication/project you would like us to highlight?


I am very excited about my monthly writing workshop which is just for people in recovery. It is a free, generative, super safe space that runs on the 17th of every month at 7pm eastern.

Click here: for more info. 


What is something you would like to share with other writers out there?

What if everything that comes out of your mouth or your pen actually needs to leave your body and enter the ears and heart of someone who needs them? <3 Keep writing. Tremble on!

Yoda Olinyk loves to make people comfortable, which is too bad because she is a poet. Yoda believes poetry should reveal our sharp corners and writes mostly about addiction, recovery, grief, shame, and is currently working on a book about reproductive rights in Canada. Yoda's poems have been published with Button Poetry, SamFiftyFour, Third Iris, Sky Island Journal, Free Verse, Ink & Marrow, Sage & Cigarettes, and Quail Bell. You can find more of Yoda's work at


Instagram: @doulaofwords

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