Magic 8 Q&A

How Nora Gould would like to be remembered: poetry, interesting titles and homemade bread

The author of Selah, which is a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry, answers eight questions from eight fellow writers
Nora Gould is the author of the poetry collection Selah. (E. Bronwen Gould)

Nora Gould is a writer from Alberta with a degree in veterinary medicine. Her debut poetry collection, I see my love more clearly from a distance, won the 2013 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for poetry.

Selah is her second collection. In it, Gould explores what it is like to live with a husband recently diagnosed with dementia. The book is a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry.

Below, the award-winning poet takes the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A and answers eight questions from eight fellow writers.  

1. Katherine Lawrence asks, "What do you say to that person sitting beside you on the plane/bus/train who tells you about the unwritten novel/poem/play that he or she intends to write one day?"

Sounds like it could be interesting. What's stopping you from getting started?

2. Robyn Harding asks, "Do you think Canadian writers should write about Canada?" 

Is a writer less Canadian if they choose to write stories set in another country or culture?

Not necessarily.


3. Patrick deWitt asks, "What is the least useful writing advice you ever received?"

You can't use a semicolon in poetry.

4. Cathy Marie Buchanan asks, "What is your writing routine?"

I work on paper. Lots of notes, most of which originate while I'm doing other work — hauling bales, picking up grain from the combine (hurry up and wait), swathing, walking to check fence. 

I take the scissors to my poems/fragments, arrange and rearrange; tape, then work it over again. I prefer mornings.

5. Padma Viswanathan asks, "How do others' books figure in your own writing or process?" 

I seldom read poetry when I'm deep in my work. I tend then to (re)read spy novels or murder mysteries. Generally, I read poetry most days while also having a book of fiction or nonfiction on the go.            

6. Karen Solie asks, "Do you listen to music when you write or do you require or prefer silence? Can you work in cafés? Do you have a choice?"

At home, I prefer silence. In the tractor, I turn the radio off. I occasionally work in cafés if I'm away and need a place to write. I don't mind an indistinct buzz of conversation for a while. 

Choice? No local café where I'd feel comfortable working. Or do you mean, could I choose to listen to music while I write? No, I can't do it.

7. Alice Kuipers asks, "Which book do you most admire as an author?" 

Another Gravity by Don McKay. My copy falls open to page 32.

8. Alison Pick asks, "How would you most like to be remembered?"

It would be lovely to be remembered for poetry and interesting titles. Realistically, I can hope for two generations to remember me for good homemade bread.


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