Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Poet and Editor Paul Vermeersch

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Paul Vermeersch

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.

Paul Vermeersch is a poet, editor and teacher. His most recent books are The Reinvention of the Human Hand, a poetry collection published by McClelland & Stewart, and The Al Purdy A-frame Anthology, an anthology published by Harbour Publishing. He lives in Toronto.

Paul's Links:

Paul's Books
4 A.M. Books

I am a happy cynic, not a pessimist; I can be optimistic, I just think it’s silly.

I am known to watch men fight for money.

I do this in my living room.

I do this because I was bullied as a child and wanted desperately to be a superhero.

I do this when I want to live vicariously through someone else’s strength and skill.

The way I do this is the same way the ancient Greeks did it, but without the olive oil.

At his/her core, a Writer is a labourer.

As opposed to an Author, who is a mascot.

A Writer is responsible for writing books.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for writing his signature in them.

At its core, Publishing is a victory wrested from the powers of darkness. I’m paraphrasing Walter Benjamin here. Carleton Wilson once put this on a T-shirt for his chapbook press. I bought one. It’s faded and worn out, but I still wear it sometimes.

As opposed to Editing, which is, thank heavens, the powers of darkness fighting back.

A Publisher should always make the Author feel like a genius.

As opposed to an Editor, who should always make the Writer feel like working harder.

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is an apple.

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be ready by others, which is an apple pie.

A Manuscript should always take wild chances.

As opposed to a Book, which should always leave out the ones that amount to nothing.

At its core, Bookselling is about helping people read what they want.

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is about helping people want to read.

The smallest unit of narrative is different depending on the medium: the phoneme for the poet, the facial expression for the actor, the note for the musician, and salt for for the chef.

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is the rise of superheroes.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is another Conservative government.

In the future we will all fertilize something.

At his/her core, a Reader is the smallest unit of civilization.

However, the ideal Reader is judiscious.

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