Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Edward Carson

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Edward Carson

Birds Flock Fish School (Vehicule Press) is award-winning poet Edward Carson's third collection.

The collection is already receiving glowing accolades. Griffin Prize-nominated poet Kevin Connolly said of Birds Flock Fish School: "These uncommonly direct, deviously wrought poems show scant care for poetic fashion and no fear in addressing, head-on, what we all like to pretend isn’t the quandary: ‘We’re not at all sure, before/ knowing them, what we see is real,/ what we see emerging and disappearing before us,/soon vanishes for good.’ That’s gorgeous, as is so much else here."

Today we welcome Edward as he participates in the Proust Questionnaire. The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.

In his responses, Edward tells Open Book about coming back to life as a painting, some extinct favourites and a very local hero.
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What is your dream of happiness?
To come back as “Still Life Blue Guitar” by David Hockney or the comet in “Halley’s Comet as Seen by Giotto” by Paterson Ewen.

What is your idea of misery?
“The miserable have no other medicine / But only hope”.

Where would you like to live?
On the edge.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Gentleness.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Self-confidence.

What is your chief characteristic?
An idea of order against chance.

What is your principal fault?
Low threshold of boredom.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Art & ice cream.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Not knowing what they don’t know.

What do you value most about your friends?
There when you need them.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Insensitivity.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Loss of attention.

What is your favourite virtue?
A rational governing of unruly passions.

What is your favourite occupation?
Working with words.

What would you like to be?
Too late, I already am.

What is your favourite colour?
Colourblind, but anything bright.

What is your favourite flower?
Archaefructus liaoningensis.

What is your favourite bird?
Archaeopteryx.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Noah.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Trump.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, James Gleick, Steven Johnson.

Who are your favourite poets?
A.R. Ammons, Robert Lowell, Kay Ryan, Wallace Stevens.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Esther Summerson, Oliver Twist, Miss Havisham.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Today it’s the man at St. George & Bloor who stopped me from walking into a truck.

Who is your favourite painter?
David Hockney.

Who is your favourite musician?
Keith Jarrett.

What is your favourite food?
Birthday Cake.

What is your favourite drink?
Coke.

What are your favourite names?
Names of what?

What is it you most dislike?
No turn signal.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Photographic memory.

How do you want to die?
Watching it come at me.

What is your current state of mind?
Centred, calm, focused & full of static.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Making it this far . . . without anyone finding out.

What is your motto?
Not exactly a motto . . . .
The fish is often the last to notice the water in which it swims.


Edward Carson is the author of two previous books of poetry, Scenes (1977) and Taking Shape (2008). Twice winner of the E.J. Pratt Poetry Award, Carson was a Writer-in-Residence for Open Book Toronto in In 2010. He lives in Toronto.

For more information about TITLE please visit the Vehicule website.

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

Check out all the Proust Questionnaire interviews in our archives.

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JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

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