Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Erín Moure on the elation (and stomachache) of poetry

The CBC Poetry Prize juror answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Erín Moure is the author of Kapusta, a book of poetry. (Erín Moure)

2016 CBC Poetry Prize juror, poet and translator Erín Moure has always believed in the importance of kindness. And of small successes, like a great line or a bowl of borscht that feeds the soul.

Below, Erín Moure answers eight questions submitted by eight of her fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A.

1. Eric McCormack asks, "Honestly, what does your writing tell you — both the good and the bad — about yourself?"

Que falo máis que un idioma e que non son unilingue, nin teño pensamento unlingue... and that I'm incorrigible. 

2. Lynn Coady asks, "Is there a fiction writer, philosopher, musician, painter or any other type of artist outside the world of poetry who has inspired your work in a concrete way at some point or another? If so, who?"

So many! A young painter in Montreal: Anthony Burnham. His work on representation. An older philosopher in California: Judith Butler. Her work on subjectivity's formation. But many, many. I see thought and writing as a tissue of exchange and spark that makes the future pass and the past eternal, and I am just one node in it, a wee spark, a blink.

3. Alan Bradley asks, "Does the act of writing ever have a physical effect on you? If so, describe it?"

Elation, or stomachache. Not at the same time.

4. Alexi Zentner asks, "What's your worst writing habit?"

Having thoughts faster than Word will type and having to quit and resort to a pencil and paper.

5. Kim Thùy asks, "If you had to choose, would you prefer one extremely successful collection or many much smaller successes?"

I prefer what I have... many small successes, each day. Writing a line for example, and liking it. And going out and buying beets and making borscht, and my friends like it. And not dying of my allergies. And seeing a flower or a bird and being in landscape as a parallel being. Every day. 

6. Donna Morrissey asks, "What are the biggest hurdles to overcome in your personal life while you're creating your work?"

I don't have a personal life while I am creating my work. I turn into a hum.

7. Sharon Butala asks, "What do you think of the age-old notion that the best writing comes out of a life led outside the bourgeoisie, where so-called 'rules' of normal middle-class life are deliberately broken and impulse is your guide, rather than duty or convention?"

Normal middle-class life looks kind of nice from where I am. Calmer than my life. Some days I'd like to have calm. But I don't really know much about it. Otherwise, I don't know where the best writing comes from. Mystery to me! May it find us all!

8. Andrew Pyper asks, "Do you ever worry that the whole practice of writing and reading, while enjoyable and perhaps gratifying, simply doesn't matter very much?

Ha! I figured that out a long time ago. Doesn't bother me a bit. It matters to me and to my friends and to the people whose work I read and look at, and that's entirely sufficient. What really matters, though, among us and out there, is kindness. Kindness matters a whole lot.