Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Writer and Musician Robert Priest

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Robert Priest

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.

Robert Priest, is the author of fifteen books of poetry, 3 plays, 2 novels, lots of musical CDS, one hit song and many columns for Now Magazine . His words have been debated in the legislature, posted in the Transit system, quoted in the Farmer's Almanac, and sung on Sesame street. His most recent book: Reading the Bible Backwards (ECW) peaked at number two on the Globe and Mail’s poetry list. His new CD of songs, Feeling the Pinch, is due out in late May.

Robert's Links:

Wherein the author appears naked with horses<.a>
a site where the author’s avatar can be prompted to speak aphorisms
official website
Doctor Poetry on Twitter

I am... a secular romantic.

I am known to... not enough readers yet. I am known to be hungry for poetry to assume it's full vital charge in the culture.

I do this... in clothes that people give to me. In longing English.

I do this because... the language has a hold of me and it won't let go. My mother passed down the charge from my ancestors. I grew up on a diet of very splicey memes.

I do this when... I'm doing my general all round longing for all sorts of stuff. 2. All day long and in my dreams.

The way I do this is... instinctive. It's in my biology to long. I am a master of longing. Even when I get something I want I continue to long for it. I long for the end of poverty with all the visceral ache I once thought only wanting a mate could arouse.

At his/her core, a Writer is... one more magical Stardust contraption stirring up particulates with a stick or key.

As opposed to an Author, who is... one more magical space dust contraption on a visit to a school or literary festival.

A Writer is responsible for... some contributions to timelessness.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for... keeping to the time schedule when reading at a multi-author evening.

At its core, Publishing is... replication and dissemination.

As opposed to Editing, which is... rhino wrangling/butterfly maintenance.

A Publisher should always... believe in a book enough to brag about it and do a good print run in a stunning package, send out review and promo copies and have them imaginatively marketed.

As opposed to an Editor, who should always... toil full on to come up with that little snip or tidbit extra to tip something flawed and brilliant toward total perfection.

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is... always in your host's back pocket.

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be read by others, which is... always in the warehouse. Or... face out on the stands pumped by current greats in bold text, its cover unavoidable yet elegant.

A Manuscript should always.. be acceptable by publishers via the web, thus saving authors loads of postage.

As opposed to a Book, which should always... be face out on the stands pumped by current greats in bold text, its cover unavoidable yet elegant.

At its core, Bookselling is... the transmission of the charge for a charge.

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is... like a net in reverse.

The smallest unit of narrative is... one domino.

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is... total comet hygiene. Take out trucks, meteorites, tyrannies before they take out you. Just to walk across the street you have to be prophetic. Or #2... that the older generation of writers who hogged all the sales and glory will finally have died.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is... when a huge truck is hurtling toward you and your foot just got stuck in a sewer grating.

In the future we will all... be slightly older. 2. Increasingly trans-human. 3. Utterly forgotten with all our issue, as though we had never been.

At his/her core, a Reader is... either totally gripped and enthralled by yr first sentence/line or not.

However, the ideal Reader is Kate Winslet

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