The Next Chapter·Proust Questionnaire

Katherena Vermette on her favourite journey and idea of perfect happiness

The award-winning poet and novelist takes The Next Chapter's version of the Proust Questionnaire.
Katherena Vermette with her baby daughter Ruby. (Sinisa Jolic/CBC)

This interview originally aired on Jan. 7, 2019.

The multi-talented Katherena Vermette landed on two of CBC Books's best of 2018 lists: the Canadian poetry list for river womana quietly powerful book that explores themes of colonialism and intergenerational trauma, and the Canadian comics list for her historical adventure graphic novel, Red River Resistance.

Below, Vermette takes The Next Chapter's version of the Proust Questionnaire, answering questions about regrets, journeys and happiness.

If you could change something about yourself what would it be?

"I would love to be one of those people who thinks before they speak, who is not socially awkward, who is really fierce with the comebacks. I always want to be a really witty person. And I feel I'm the exact opposite of that and I always think of the best comebacks hours later. I hate that."

What do you most overuse?

"I have special edits in my work of uses of the word 'like.' I do lots of 'ums' and 'just that' and 'likes.' Way too many likes for a 40 year old woman."

What do you value most in your friends?

"Solidarity. Many of my friends, we have things in common whether it's children or it's books or it's where we come from or it's who we are. I love that. Commiserating and sharing all the blessings together."

What is your greatest regret?

"My greatest regret was always that I didn't travel more before I had kids. I had my first two girls really young and I didn't travel enough yet."

What is your favourite occupation?

"Anything that involves organizing, whether it's organizing a book or a house or a kit. I love just making things go into places."

What is your favourite journey?

"I guess this life journey thing, this motherhood journey, that's pretty exceptional. I have two teenagers right now who are coming into their adulthood and I just had a baby. So it's two sides of this long journey that's ever changing."

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

"Peace. Quiet. My favourite parts of any day is when I get to just sit and read or meditate or be with my kids when they are quiet."

Who are your favourite heroes in real life?

"Youth. Young people. Young Indigenous persons who are coming into this crazy world, and I don't use that term lightly. They're making it and they're making the world a better place."

Katherena Vermette's comments have been edited for length and clarity.


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