Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

The Proust Questionnaire, with Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews

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Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews

Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews is a mother, a second-language teacher and a poet. She has been published in several publications and anthologies including Descant, Leaf Press, University of Toronto's Comparative Literature Journal/Transverse, Ascent Aspirations, The Canada Cuba Literary Alliance, The Ontario Poetry Society and Arts About Town Magazine. Josie was nominated for the Oakville Cogeco Literary Stars Among Us in 2011. She won first prize in the Arborealis prize in 2008. She is also the author of a non-fiction historical book, How the Italians CreatedCanada (Dragon Hill Press) , commissioned as part of a series on the contribution of various ethnic groups to the Canadian landscape. Josie is a member of the League of Canadian Poets.

Join Josie in Oakville on Sunday, June 7th for the Oakville launch of the anthology EnCompass 1 (Beret Days Press). Josie's poetry appears in EnCompass 1 alongside the work of Bernice Lever, Lynn Tait, Debbie Okun Hill and Jan Wood. Visit our Events page for more details.

In her answers to Proust Questionnaire, Josie tells us her dream of happiness, her greatest extravagance, her favourite virtue and more.

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?
I would like to see my kids find happiness, love and success in life. I am also happiest when I am teaching or when I am happy with a poem I have edited to perfection.

What is your idea of misery?
Being in the company of people I feel ill at ease with.

Where would you like to live?
In a little house with lots of light and space to write... to be with my kids... my family... my friends... and a gothic garden ...

What qualities do you admire most in a man? Intelligence, magnanimity, masculinity, kindness, a sense of adventure, a sense of humor, a great voice...

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Intelligence, kindness, trustworthiness and a sense of humor.

What is your chief characteristic?

What is your principal fault?

What is your greatest extravagance?
Going back to university in my late forties to finish graduate studies in Italian literature.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
I am tolerant of all faults in others except for mean-spirited pettiness and premeditated meanness. One other thing that irritates me, probably because I deny it in myself, is bragging, schmoozing and manipulating others in order to get to the top. To me that's just as much of a sin as plagiarizing or cheating. Yet, with social media, etiquette seems to have gone out the window and doing all of the above is no longer tacky, but has become the 'new normal'.

What do you value most about your friends?
Their faithfulness and their kindness. My best friends' honesty is always tactful and spoken in a way which is meant to help and to edify.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
As I said before, I dislike pettiness, mean-spiritedness, bragging for self-promotion and playing social games in order to gain favor.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
I worry too much about everything. This tends to slow me down in my writing sometimes, as I will worry about a critic's remarks. It sometimes stops me from writing for a long time and it is therefore a sort of self-sabotage.

What is your favourite virtue?
I like the way I can persevere with things until I have completed them. I can delay gratification and stick to the task at hand. I proved it to myself when I completed my non-fiction historical book in less than six months.

What is your favourite occupation?

What would you like to be? I would like to be a perfect teacher and an accomplished poet.

What is your favourite colour?
Blue and white... as well as all the colours.

What is your favourite flower?
The morning glory.

What is your favourite bird?
The sparrow.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Martin Luther King.

What character in history do you most dislike?

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Alice Munro, Calvino, Raymond Carver, Cervantes, Papini, Proust.... among many others.

Who are your favourite poets?
Dante, Giacomo Leopardi, Margaret Atwood, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, Don Domanski... among many others .

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Don Quixote, Calvino's Baron in the Trees, Alice Munro's heroines...

Who are your heroes in real life?
My mother and my father.

Who is your favourite painter?
Michelangelo (I love humanism).

Who is your favourite musician?
I love music so much that it's hard to just pick a few musicians or just one. My favourites are Ennio Morricone, Bach, Elton John (his early stuff) , Cat Stevens, The Beatles... among many more.

What is your favourite food?
A hot, fresh baked panino with prosciutto, provolone and eggplant antipasto.

What is your favourite drink?
Iced mineral water with lemon.

What are your favourite names?
Michael, Aria or Ariel.

What is it you most dislike?
Strident noises, loud voices arguing, and aggressive, violent things happening in the world.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

How do you want to die?
Surrounded by the people I love, so I could tell them one last time how wonderful they are and how much I love them.

What is your current state of mind?
Filled with many family- and work-related responsibilities. Also, filled with hopes and dreams for a new book of poems.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Giving life to my children; my teaching career; writing my first book; creating poetry.

What is your motto?
"Write it down!" and "One thing at a time!"

For more information about Encompass 1 please visit the Ontario Poetry Society website.

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

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