25th Trillium Award

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Charmaine Cadeau

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The WAR Series (Writers As Readers) is our newest interview series at Open Book, and gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Charmaine Cadeau is a poet whose second book is Placeholder (Brick Books), which was published in April 2013. This poetry collection explores disintegration, gaps in the historical record and absences. Today, she tells us about some of her most memorable reads, from the Little Golden Books that were among some of her earliest reading experiences to Rae Armantrout?s Veil. Here is a wide-ranging list of children?s books, familiar classics and poetry that Charmaine has connected with.

Charmaine has some exciting events coming up. She will be reading from Placeholder at the Word*Up Reading Series in Peterborough on May 15, 2023. Please view the event details here. She will also be a guest at the Cobourg Poetry Workshop on May 16, 2023 alongside Eric Winter, Rick Webster and Mark Clement. Click here for details. On June 5th, 2013, Charmaine will be participating in the Pivot Readings with authors Andrew Faulkner, Michael Lista and Ayelet Tsabari. See the details here.


The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:
Like, the very first? Our house was stocked with Little Golden Books, especially ones that were about local wildlife, so I read those. I was so shy, I flunked reading-aloud tests in kindergarten until I marched in one day with a favourite Golden Book, and happily read it cover to cover. I also remember falling in love with a library book my mom found on First Nations stories. And we were regulars at the library, so we devoured books.

A book that made me cry:
After the Old Yeller years, the first book that made me cry was John Steinbeck?s Of Mice and Men. More recently, Joan Didion?s Blue Nights struck a chord because as a mom, I could relate to her observations on the relationship between parenting and writing.

The first adult book I read:
George Eliot?s The Mill on the Floss. It was a gift from my grandma, and I still have a soft spot for Philip Wakem. I don?t believe in playing matchmaker, but I would totally help him out.

A book that made me laugh out loud:
Susan Holbrook?s Joy Is So Exhausting, Lynn Coady?s Saints of Big Harbour and most of Jane Austen?s novels.

The book I have re-read many times:
Wittgenstein?s Tractatus.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:
Samuel Butler?s The Way of All Flesh. I?m deeply suspicious of irony, but the book might change my mind. There are also lots of books I really want to re-read.

The book I would give my 17-year-old self, if I could:
The tried and true teen book is J.D. Salinger?s The Catcher in the Rye, but for me at 17, I would have found concordance in a volume of Emily Dickinson?s collected poems.

The best book I read in the past six months:
Rae Armantrout?s Veil. Most of my reading in the last six months has been related to my teaching, but that?s something I read just for myself.

The book I plan on reading next:
I?m in a reading group, and the next book on the list is Anne Waldman?s Manatee/Humanity.

A possible title for my autobiography:
Maybe It?s Not Me, It?s You. But more likely, it?d be like the White Album.

Charmaine Cadeau was born in Toronto. Her first collection of poetry, What You Used to Wear, was published with Goose Lane in 2004. Placeholder is her second poetry collection. She is currently Assistant Professor at High Point University in North Carolina.

For more information about Placeholder 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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