Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Poet Alice Burdick

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Alice Burdick

In The Questionless Books Interview, I get a whole bunch of books people (from authors to editors to publishers to sales / publicity / production people, booksellers, designers, librarians, readers, etc) to "answer" a series of unspoken "questions". The results highlight a delightful mix of the opportunities and challenges facing our sector: from doom and gloom to sunshine and rainbows, and every irony in between.

Alice's third collection, Holler, was released this spring through Mansfield Press. Her poems have also appeared in Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry (The Mercury Press, Fall 2005), Surreal Estate: 13 Canadian Poets Under the Influence, An Anthology of Surrealist Canadian Poetry (The Mercury Press, Fall 2004), and in Pissing Ice: An Anthology of 'New' Canadian Poets, (BookThug, 2004).

Alice's Links:


I am...tired but still awake.

I am known to...write poetry and launder clothes.

I do this house in Mahone Bay.

I do this because...the words don't write themselves, and the laundry would otherwise fester.

I do this when I...have to, and I have to almost every day. Sometimes more than once a day.

The way I do this is...with my hands and sense of smell.

At his/her core, a Writer is...crisp and seedy and full of hope.

As opposed to an Author, who is...pulpy, or pulped. I don't know about the opposition.

A Writer is responsible for...getting 'er done.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for...the old razzle dazzle.

At its core, Publishing is...that guy who says "Keep on truckin'!"

As opposed to Editing, which is...extremely helpful - keeps too many ducks in check; prunes extra metaphors.

A Publisher should always...answer the door, then open it. Or close it quickly, if it's opened to a proselytizer.

As opposed to an Editor, who should always...sit in the same room as the writer, and talk the words into a better shape.

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is...just getting started. It's a bit tender.

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be read by others, which is...chin up, bruised but strong.

A Manuscript should double-spaced.

As opposed to a Book, which should double-parked, on your shelf.

At its core, Bookselling love, shared in a room, the more non-virtual the better.

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is...a mystery, like kiwifruit.

The smallest unit of narrative is...breath.

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is...unimaginable wonder in the words and innovations of human beings.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is...that it ends.

In the future we will read to, hopefully.

At his/her core, a Reader to words.

However, the ideal Reader to words, and wants to read them.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

George Murray

George Murray’s six books of poetry include The Rush to Here and The Hunter. His most recent books, Whiteout and Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms, are published by ECW Press. He is the editor of the popular literary website

Go to George Murray’s Author Page