Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Roo Borson on what sustains her as a writer

The Griffin Poetry Prize winner answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Roo Borson is the author of Rain; road; an open boat. (Andrea Hensing)

Roo Borson is an award-winning author, having penned 14 books from poetry to essays. The Griffin Poetry Prize winner is one of three poets who judged the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize — an award Borson herself won back in 1982.

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

1. Lorna Crozier asks, "If you could come back as a musician, what area of music would you choose, and are you secretly a songwriter, and if so, what is your song about?" 

I would like to be able to play the music of J.S. Bach on the harpsichord. 

2. Rudy Wiebe asks, "Who helped you most in becoming a writer? How?" 

Louise Gluck and Robert Bringhurst, both great poets and wonderful teachers. 

3. Erin Bow asks, "Would you write if you could never be read?" 

It would depend on the circumstances, but what draws me to writing is the art itself. Friendship sustains me. 

4. Frances Itani asks, "When you have presented your work to an audience in the past, what was the question you were not expecting? The one you thought about for a long time afterward, the one you wish you'd answered differently? How would you reply to it now?" 

Several decades ago, after a reading, a woman in the audience stood up, looked me in the eye, and asked "Why do we do this?" She was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and this being the case, the question remains unanswerable. 

5. Todd Babiak asks, "Do you ever feel so scared in the dark, when you're alone, that you have to turn on a light? If so, what are you afraid of?" 

Once in a while in the middle of the night, I wake from a dream, and turn on the light to banish the dream. 

6. Helen Humphreys asks, "If you write in a room with a window, what is the view out of that window?" 

I write in many different rooms, in different places in the world, but I like to look out on plants and trees and the traffic of birds, cats, squirrels, or groundhogs, depending. 

7. David McGimpsey asks, "If a robot wrote beautiful poetry, should the robot be eligible to win the Governor General's Award?" 

No, because the robot wouldn't need to eat, so the prize money would go to waste. 

8. Tracey Lindberg asks, "Who, from literary Canada, is your dream Trivial Pursuit partner?" 

Kim Maltman. But we'd need a third person to tackle the questions in the Entertainment category.