Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Ronna Bloom

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Ronna Bloom

Ronna Bloom is the author of Cloudy with a Fire in the Basement (Pedlar Press), as well as four other poetry collections. She has been shortlisted for the Pat Lowther and Gerald Lampert Awards and currently serves as Poet-in-Community at the University of Toronto.

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Ronna tells Open Book about emotional extravagance, the Chai worth crossing the city for and the perfect pizza.

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.

Don't miss the chance to catch Ronna reading live at the launch for Cloudy with a Fire in the Basement on September 27, 2012. Click here for event details.

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What is your dream of happiness?
Accepting reality.

What is your idea of misery?
Pretending it doesn't exist. la la la. And/or my squirrel mind that goes fear/approach/fear/approach in the middle of the night. (Many poems about sleeplessness in my new book.)

Where would you like to live?
Toronto, where I live.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Compassionate use of power.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Compassionate use of power.

What is your chief characteristic?
I am made of water. I cry a lot.

What is your principal fault?
I don't think fear is a fault, but there's a lot of that. When I want something I'm very much wanting it, desirous, maybe even greedy. Perhaps secretively. The flip side is, of course, being abstemious.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I like going out for lunch. Also coffee, tea, dinner, coffee, tea, ice cream etc… Mostly, my greatest extravagance is emotional.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Nothing’s coming to mind right now about other people’s faults. Why go looking for them?

What do you value most about your friends?
Their hearts.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Manipulation.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
When I speed up so much I'm not really here.

What is your favourite occupation?
Riding my bicycle from the east end across the Bloor Street Viaduct for Chai at Annapurna restaurant.

What would you like to be?
Spacious.

What is your favourite colour?
Blue.

What is your favourite flower?
Rose.

What is your favourite bird?
I’m bad at names. All of them. I like the sound of seagulls.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Italo Calvino, W.G Sebald, Marilynne Robinson.

Who are your favourite poets?
Raymond Carver (the poet part), Jane Hirshfield, Roo Borson.

Who is your favourite painter?
Mark Rothko.

Who is your favourite musician?
Beethoven.

What is your favourite food?
Pizza (thin crust, goat cheese, spinach and double pepperoni).

What is it you most dislike?
Why do you keep asking me this?

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Ballet.

How do you want to die?
During a good night’s sleep.

What is your current state of mind?
This minute, laughing, answering these questions (I didn't expect to be doing this at 8:00 a.m. in my bathrobe); last night, fretting. Ask me in five minutes.


Ronna Bloom has published four previous books of poetry, most recently Permiso (Pedlar Press, 2009). Her poems have been broadcast on CBC, displayed on public hoardings (a Poetry Is Public initiative) and recorded by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. These days the ground shifts across her work as Poet-in-Community at the University of Toronto, a psychotherapy practice, a meditation practice and writing and performing poetry. Whatever the focus, the aim is for the widest possible experience of receptivity and responsiveness, and in that sense it’s all one thing. http://www.ronnabloom.com

For more information about Cloudy with a Fire in the Basement please visit Ronna's website and the Pedlar 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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JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

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