Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Grant Loveys

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Grant Loveys

Newfoundland-based writer Grant Loveys' literary debut, Our Gleaming Bones Unrobed (ECW Press), is a haunting collection of poems that explore mortality and the fantastical underpinnings of the everyday.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Grant tells Open Book about writing poems at lunchtime, the attraction of astronauts and the beauty of a question without an answer.

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.

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What is your idea of misery?
Unrequited love. Or lovelessness. Because they often go hand in hand.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Kindness, boldness, self-awareness, joy, indulgence.

What is your chief characteristic?
Self-doubt. I think. I'm probably wrong. Maybe a sense of calm.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Books. If I had to choose to spend my last dollar on rent or books, I'd be looking for the cardboard box with the most shelf space.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
David Foster Wallace said once that it's a full time job just trying be empathetic and giving people the benefit of the doubt. And he's right. It's hard work, but worth it. That said, I find it very difficult to stifle a little cheer when an egomaniac is humbled.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
The fact that so many characteristics come to mind so easily.

What is your favourite occupation?
I work in a warehouse. This is what I've learned in my time there: while your body slugs it out, your mind is free to wander. I work hard in the day, write poems in the parking lot at lunchtime and sleep deeply at night. Pretty good stuff.

What would you like to be?
Almost there.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
I guess admire is the wrong word, but I'm fascinated by the first men on the moon: Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins (the guy who flew there but never made it out of the capsule.) Not because they risked their lives — people do that every day — but because they carried with them the dreams of every human being who ever looked up and wondered. They shouldered all that weight and still flew.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy, Ernest Hemingway, Lisa Moore.

Who are your favourite poets?
David Berman, Ted Hughes, Frank O'Hara, Mark Strand, Sandy Brennan.

Who is your favourite musician?
Neil Young. He taught me feel beats finesse every time.

What is it you most dislike?
The notion that every question has an answer. Isn't mind-bending complexity wonderful enough on its own?

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Being able to create things with my hands. Turning a bunch of raw materials into a useful, beautiful object is a lost art. A kind of tangible poetry.

What is your motto?
Leave every place better than you found it. Cliche, sure, but truth is truth.


Grant Loveys received a 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts & Letters award for poetry and was the winner of the Telegram’s 2011 Cuffer Prize for short fiction. His work has appeared in numerous North American and European publications. He lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

For more information about Our Gleaming Bones Unrobed please visit the ECW Press 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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