Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

The Proust Questionnaire, with Cameron Anstee

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Cameron Anstee

Cameron Anstee is a Ph.D. student and small press publisher whose chapbook, Regarding Renewal, will be launched today during the 19th anniversary celebration of above/ground press, where he will be joined by Amanda Earl, Marilyn Irwin and Stephen Brockwell. Don't miss it! Visit our Events Page for more details.

In Cameron's terse and abiding response to the Proust Questionnaire, he tells us about what he finds most valuable in a friend, and the joy he finds in small press publishing.

The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.


What is your dream of happiness?
My partner Jenn, our cats, the bills paid, good books and good food.

What is your idea of misery?
The absence of the above.

Where would you like to live?
East coast of Canada by the ocean, or Prague.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Curiosity, willingness to call bullshit where needed.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Curiosity, willingness to call bullshit where needed.

What is your chief characteristic?

What is your principal fault?
The belief that others should care about the things I care about.

What is your greatest extravagance?

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Ted Berrigan said, “Every person has a right, poet or not, to be judged by their best.” I strive to extend this courtesy as generously as possible, in poetry and elsewhere, as it is certainly true of how I would like to be judged.

What do you value most about your friends?
The commitment to pursue what they love where financial gains or anything remotely resembling stability are near impossibilities.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Willful ignorance of the great things happening around them in their own cities.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
My indecisiveness.

What is your favourite virtue?

What is your favourite occupation?
Small press publisher.

What would you like to be?
As I appear too old to be a professional soccer player, I’ll go with small press publisher.

What is your favourite colour?
I am too indecisive for this question.

What is your favourite flower?
Or this one.

What is your favourite bird?
Or this one.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
This has been the most difficult question — Louis Riel, Johannes Gutenberg and Kenneth Patchen at this moment.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Any who ever promoted burning books.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Sheila Watson, Michael Ondaatje, Jack Kerouac, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan, Annabel Lyon, Lisa Moore, Timothy Findley, Virginia Woolf, Charles Bukowski, etc.

Who are your favourite poets?
Nelson Ball, John Thompson, Ted Berrigan, Phyllis Webb, Lisa Robertson, Monty Reid, John Newlove, William Hawkins, Phil Hall, Stephanie Bolster, Kenneth Patchen, Frank O’Hara, etc.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
The Dude.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Raymond Souster, Philippe Petit, Roger Federer, Ryan Giggs.

Who is your favourite painter?
Barbara Caruso.

Who is your favourite musician?
The Walkmen, Kathleen Edwards, Jim Bryson, Spoon, Neko Case.

What is your favourite food?

What is your favourite drink?
Coffee, Czechvar.

What are your favourite names?
Bertie, Maeby, Otis, Neko.

What is it you most dislike?
Peanut butter.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Singing in tune.

How do you want to die?
Quietly, and many years from now.

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
The continued presence of my partner.

What is your motto?
Don’t worry, sometimes it’s all ok, focus on those times and work towards them.


Cameron Anstee lives and writes in Ottawa ON where he runs Apt. 9 Press and is pursuing a Ph.D in English Literature at the University of Ottawa. Regarding Renewal is forthcoming from above/ground press, and other recent chapbooks have been published by The Emergency Response Unit and St. Andrew Books. You can read more about him at his blog.

Check back for more Proust Questionnaires with Canada's literati in this latest series of interviews on Open Book.

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