Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with David O'Meara

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David O'Meara

David O’Meara is the author of A Pretty Sight (Coach House Books), an ambitious poetry collection that aims to tackle the exploration of culture, art, war, rebellion and technology. And David, whose poetic résumé boasts a seat on the Griffin jury and multiple awards, rises to the occasion. A Pretty Sight has garnered praise from critics and fellow poets alike. Simon Armitage says of the collection: "This is proud, felt and affecting work — I can’t think of many other poets so prepared to engage and so equipped to succeed."

Today we speak with David as part of our Dirty Dozen series, an unconventional interview that invites writers to share twelve unexpected facts about themselves.

David tells us about dressing for flying, eating cheese with Nick Cave and the nightmarish possibilities of the Montreal Metro.

  1. The first poem I ever wrote was titled “The Beautiful Tree (in Everyone).” I have yet to regain that purity of metaphor or optimism since.
  2. I was recently informed I’d be bumped upscale on a Heathrow to Ottawa flight like this: “Well, you are not dressed appropriately, but we are moving you to Business Class.” This is what I think is called a “dig.”
  3. Brushes with celebrity: Nick Cave once offered some of his cheese plate to me. Mark Strand shared his calamari. I showed Seamus Heaney how to find the OAG gift shop so he could buy some things for his grandkids.
  4. Once, after missing the last subway car in the Montreal metro, Ken Babstock and I discovered we were not only locked inside the station but trapped there with an aggressive lunatic who slept in the tunnels. We had only 15 cents in change and this was before cellphones. While trying to keep our psychopath at bay, who was getting increasingly agitated, we tried to get the attention of passersby far off at the edge of the city square. Eventually two guys came over, and after we explained the situation, they produced a handgun which they waved about maniacally, banging it on the glass doors. Shortly after that we found another 10 cents and then there were all those police.
  5. When I was a child, I had a recurring nightmare of being trapped in the upstairs hallway of our house, which was engulfed in flames. Consequently for at least a year, the last thing I would do before going to bed was ask my parents if they had turned the stove off.
  6. Until my mid-thirties, I only ever wrote “Left of the Dial” on luggage tags.
  7. This is number seven. We are over the hump.
  8. I never wear tuxedos on 8 hour flights because it is not very comfortable.
  9. The first line of Samuel Beckett’s short novel Mercier and Camier is: “The journey of Mercier and Camier is one I can tell, if I will, for I was with them all the time.”
  10. I hate games. Board games, card games, chess, you name it. I get no satisfaction from them mainly because if I’m losing, I’m not having fun, and if I’m winning, I feel bad for the person who is losing, so I’m not having any fun. I can participate in sports if I’m drunk.
  11. I don’t know how to type. I have made mistakes while buying souvenirs.
  12. I want you to know I love what you’re doing.


David O’Meara lives in Ottawa, Ontario. He is the author of three collections of poetry and a play, Disaster, nominated for four Rideau Awards. His poetry has been shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award, the ReLit Prize, the Trillium Book Award, a National Magazine Award and he won the Archibald Lampman Award twice. He is director of the Plan 99 Reading Series and was the Canadian judge for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize.

For more information about A Pretty Sight please visit the Coach House Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

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JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

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