Culture & Conversation

Oh there you are, Laura


One day, early on in my interactions with Laura Broadbent, she beckoned me via Facebook to meet her at S. W. Welch, the used bookstore that I can see from my bedroom window and where she happens to work. The reason for the beckoning was for her to gift me an oversized book about electricity, energy and power. I happen to love all of these things (long live writing on a computer under lamp light in the dark of the night!). That is how my deep love and affection for Laura as a friend and fellow writer began.

Laura deservedly snatched the Robert Kroetsch Award last year, and saw her first collection of poetry Oh There You Are I Can’t See You Is it Raining? go to print with Snare Books. My personal copy is severely water-damaged, which is insanely appropriate, and the many borrows it has suffered amongst my group of friends has made the book look as weathered as its name.

I have had the opportunity to get to know Laura and see her read in both formal and informal settings. The last time was at 4 in the morning at my friend Duffy’s apartment. We were at the tail end of a reading we had spontaneously thrown. I think I might have been the only one in the room, but Laura (accompanied by a very drunk friend on keyboard) read some poems from her book and gave perhaps the trippiest reading I’ve ever experienced (I was drunk on a bottle of wine).

I asked her to be the first in this new series of interviews called The Whether You Like It Or Not Interview, which will feature a wide array of young, Montreal writers.

Hello. Who are you?
Hello, I ask people this at parties all the time and they say “you’re really intense” or are offended and say “we met yesterday.” Then I say “How’s your relationship with your father?” 

What have you been reading?
Jamaica Kincaid – whoa!, Luce Irigaray (need a dictionary of critical terms with me at all times), Bolano’s essays, and some Buddhist psychotherapy book for good measure. I also re-read Ursula K LeGuin’s translation of the Tao Te Ching at night (because I always come home lamenting that I was not wise that day). And I read tons and tons and tons of internet.

Why do you write?
To connect. In a way I can’t connect in person without being called intense or crazy. In writing you mostly don’t have to remember if you met someone or not – you just make them up. In writing you can assume very witty party banter even if at real dinner parties you say “who ARE you?’”

Where is your favourite place to write?
I need a word processor to be hooked up to my brain at that lucid moment when I am falling asleep – I feel like Virginia Woolf and I think “I’ve gotta write this down” and I never do. In the morning I’ll be like – “something about….chrysanthemums and bagels and horses and my ex boyfriend.”

What books or authors have impacted you the most?
Anne Carson. Fernando Pessoa. Franz Kafka. Rilke. Celan. Bachmann. Lispector. Tsvetaeva. Lydia Davis. Grace Paley. Julianna Sphar, Rebecca Solnit. Cixous. Spinoza. The books of Proverbs and Psalms in the Bible etc.

What is good writing?
It’s catchy.

Do you have any favorite words?
Ostensible. Parsimony. Zamboni. Supercilious. Turgid. Prelapsarian. Anoa. Lassitude, etc.

Could you recommend 3 books?
Alan Carr’s Easyway To Stop Smoking
“The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze” – William Saroyan
“The Life and Times of Michael K” – J.M Coetzee

And at least 98 more also.
Recently, Laura Broadbent interviewed her favourite dead writer Clarice Lispector, publishing it as a hand bound chapbook with Derek Beaulieu’s No Press. “Reality prior to my language exists as an unthinkable thought…life precedes love, bodily matter precedes the body, and one day in its turn language shall have preceded possession of silence.” (Clarice LispectorThe Passion According to G.H.)

Stay tuned, later this week I’ll be introducing Jay Ritchie, who has answered his questions in a very interesting way…


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