25th Trillium Award

Brick Books Coast to Coast: An Interview with Arleen Paré

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This spring, Brick Book poets Karen Enns, Joanna Lilley, Jane Munro and Arleen Paré are embarking on a cross-Canada poetry tour, reading from their new collections to audiences coast to coast. The poets will make three stops in Ontario. You can catch their readings in Toronto on May 9, in Kingston on May 12 and in Ottawa on May 13.

In this interview, Arleen Paré talks to us about the difference between apples and hedgehogs, the luxury of sleep and her latest book, Lake of Two Mountains.

Open Book:

Tell us about the book you?ll be reading from on your cross-Canada tour.

Arleen Paré:

I?ll be reading from Lake of Two Mountains, a poetry collection about the lake that?s formed at the convergence of the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence Rivers. I spent my childhood summers on the lake?s southern shore. On the lake?s north shore is the Mohawk settlement where the Oka Crisis took place. To the east is the old Tappist monastery where Oka cheese is produced. It?s a long praise poem written in 34 parts.


How do you manage the shift between being a solitary writer and a public reader?


Writing is so different from public reading. Each involves a distinct kind of energy; they are like apples and oranges, maybe apples and hedgehogs. I suspect I keep these two activities in different parts of my brain. I don?t introduce them to each other until it?s time to consider the night of the reading. I love writing; I enjoy reading, so it?s not as though one is positive and the other is negative. Usually, these activities are separated by hours, if not days. This time separation makes it quite possible to shift from one to the other without too many serious headaches.


What is one luxury you allow yourself when you go "on tour" with a book?


I don?t really know. I?ve read in a number of different cities, but I?ve never been on a reading ?tour.? However, if I can project a little, the luxury I will likely have to allow myself will be sleep. I know sleep isn?t typically classified as a luxury, but on tour I think it may become one.


What books will you pack with you for your cross-Canada journey?


The lighter, the thinner, the better. It?s a long tour and most of it is by plane. So, books of poetry then. Paperbacks. A mystery or two. And some of my own books to give away or to sell.


What are you most looking forward to about your cross-Canada reading tour?


I?m looking forward to getting to know the three other poets who will be reading with me, Karen Enns, Joanna Lilley and Jane Munro. I also look forward to visiting the cities of Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa and Montreal. I know and love Montreal and Ottawa, but I don?t know the other cities very much at all. And of course, I look forward to meeting the people who come to the readings, usually poets themselves, often lovers of poetry. This sort of audience is energizing, inspiring in every way.


Arleen Paré is a poet and novelist, author of two previous books, Paper Trail and Leaving Now. Her work has received the Victoria Butler Book Prize and has been shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Award for Poetry. Originally from Montreal, she lived for many years in Vancouver, where she worked as a social worker and administrator to provide community housing for people with mental illnesses. She now lives in Victoria with her partner, Chris Fox. Lake of Two Mountains is her second poetry collection.

Listen to Arleen Paré read from Lake of Two Mountains in this Brick Books podcast.

For more information about Lake of Two Mountains please visit the Brick Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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