Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Poet and Filmmaker David Seymour

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David Seymour

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.

David Seymour’s first book, Inter Alia (Brick Books, 2005) was short-listed for the Gerald Lampert Award for the best first book of poetry. His second book, For Display Purposes Only, will be published by Coach House Books in 2013. Along with working in the film industry David is also a member of the editorial board for Goose Lane Editions, and is a copy editor/second reader for Brick Books.

David's Links:

Inter Alia
Brick Books

I assistant director currently on the set of ___ ___, directed by _______ ___ ____, where I have begun an online search for various peculiar categories of people to participate as background performers in an upcoming scene. I have to be quiet, the sound man can hear me typing in stereo from across the cavernous green-screened stage.

I am known to...use words like ‘participate’ when dealing with background performers so they feel they are a more integral and respected part of film-making than they are often deemed to be. In general I think it’s a good thing to make people feel integral and respected.

I do this in...order to maintain a modicum of sanity in what is otherwise a chaotic assembly of casual financiers, creative eccentrics, and skilled technicians completing a multi-million dollar budgeted production within a very short, intense period of time.

I do this because...I can’t think of a paying writer-in-residence position that will accept me on the merit of a single book. Besides, the material I’m gathering for a memoir will be invaluable once the statutes on all of the confidentiality agreements I’ve signed have expired.

I do this when I...sorry, I’ve been called back to set because an extra was caught eating jujubes from the crew craft table. One of my responsibilities is to reprimand them for the transgression of union rules. As I don my raincoat for the interior storms the special effects department has generated in Stage D it occurs to me I may have lost my ability to discern between the ludicrous and the cruel.

The way I do this is...with the greatest possible empathy toward everyone involved, in light of the absurdity of our common condition.

At his/her core, a Writer is...a fleet thief, a flaneur, a magpie, a mimic, a lifer, a reader in drag.

As opposed to an Author, who is...a commodity, an object of desire, a peacock, a full-timer, a writer in drag.

A Writer is responsible for...the effort required to create what someone once called the antidote to meaninglessness.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for...not pandering to all of those beautiful people out there in the dark, and for continuing to formulate potential antidotes.

At its core, Publishing is...the silver screen.

As opposed to Editing, which is...the cutting room floor. And threading the projector.

A Publisher should always...humour its writers within sensible limits and bolster their spirits.

As opposed to an Editor, who should always...agree never to humour writers, but bolster their talents.

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is...often 15-30 pages too long. I suppose I should clarify that I mean a poetry manuscript.

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be read by others, which is...a slender volume of considered work that has been rendered a beautiful artefact in its own right.

A Manuscript should through several rehearsals.

As opposed to a Book, which should camera ready.

At its core, Bookselling is...stimulated orally.

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is...visually fixated.

The smallest unit of narrative is...a neutrino.

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is...more life. Please.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is...say it with me, Large Hadron Collider event!

In the future we will fifth generation clones shaking our heads at the fact Michel Houellebecq’s fictions were accurate forecasts of our global culture.

At his/her core, a Reader to the possibility of discovering wonder.

However, the ideal Reader is...uncompromising and joyful in the search for wonder. That’s a wrap.

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