25th Trillium Award

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with derek beaulieu

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derek beaulieu

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.

Poet derek beaulieu?s newest book is Please, No More Poetry (Wilfrid Laurier University Press). With five books of poetry to his credit, derek?s new collection contains 35 selected works, an introduction by Kit Dobson and an interview with derek as part of the afterword. This book gives readers insight into the experimental poetry of derek beaulieu. Today, derek tells us about the lesser-known YA novels that were among some of his earliest reading interests, his first forays into adult fiction with Stephen King and the poetry book that would have been enough to get a 17-year-old derek beaulieu interested in poetry if only it was around at the time.


The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:
I don?t remember the book I read on my own first, but I do remember eschewing The Hardy Boys in favour of the lesser-known The Three Investigators series. This addictive YA series featured a trio of young men who gathered in a repurposed camper in a scrapyard, using their wits and deductive powers to solve obscure crimes like The Mystery of the Dead Man?s Riddle (1974) and The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot (1964). I retain my copies from my elementary school days, still inscribed with my name in pencil on the inside front cover; they are now among my daughter?s favourites.

A book that made me cry:
Coach House Books editor Alana Wilcox?s only novel to date, A Grammar of Endings (2000), also never fails to make me cry. Using a dictionary of words centred on absence and longing which never moves past the letter ?A? (abiosis, abulia, acataphasia...), Wilcox?s novel is an epistolary exploration of the vocabulary of the end of relationships. Heartbreaking.

The first adult book I read:
I truly can?t remember, though I spent several summers completely lost in Stephen King?s early fiction, particularly Night Shift (1978) and Skeleton Crew (1985) — The Mist still terrifies me.

A book that made me laugh out loud:
George Murray?s Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms (ECW Press, 2010) revels in the dark pleasures, the aphoristic knives sharpened at both ends.

The book I have re-read many times:
Jorge Luis Borges? Collected Fictions (translated by Andrew Hurley, 1998). The labyrinths and mazes of Borges? short fiction are delicious mind traps awaiting willing explorers. I still search bookstores and flea markets for Vol. XLVI of the Anglo-American Cyclopaedia.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:
Luigi Serafini?s Codex Seraphinianus (1981) is the book I should have read — yearn to read, but can?t. Every page is hidden behind a veil of dream script illustrated by alien figures all too familiar. I should have read this, it echoes and repeats in dreams and déjà vu, and yet...

The book I would give my 17-year-old self, if I could:
bpNichol?s a book of variations (2013) — newly out from Coach House Books and gathering three rare editions: love: a book of remembrances, zygal: a book of mysteries and translations and art facts: a book of contexts, this almost 400-page volume is a source book of the poetically playful. a book of variations might have been just enough to drag me away from comic books and the safety of the high school art room into the library and poetry.

The best book I read in the past six months:
My friend and colleague Paul Zits? new Massacre Street (2013) is a truly exceptional debut. Zits uses primary texts from the Frog Lake Massacre and avant-garde compositional strategies to craft an edition which challenges how we write the prairie and how we construct the dialogue between ?Canada? and the First Nations.

The book(s) I plan on reading next:
Oh, if it was only a single volume: Sandy Pool?s Undark (2012), Jen Bervin?s Bubby?s Homemade Pies (2007, mmm), Juliana Spahr?s The Transformation (2007), Charles Bernstein?s Recalculating (2013) and the steady stream of volumes provided by Pages Books on Kensington (Calgary) and my friends? Twitter feeds.

A possible title for my autobiography:
?Extispicium,? if the manuscript I?m building goes according to plan.

derek beaulieu is the author of five books of poetry (most recently the visual poem suite silence), three volumes of conceptual fiction (most recently the short fiction collection How to Write) and over 150 chapbooks. The visual poetry editor at UBUWeb, beaulieu's first volume of criticism, Seen of the Crime, was published by Snare Books in 2011. beaulieu teaches at the University of Calgary, Alberta College of Art and Mount Royal University. He is the editor, with Lori Emerson, of Writing Surfaces: Selected Fiction of John Riddell (WLU Press, 2013).

For more information about Please, No More Poetry please visit the Wilfrid Laurier University Press website.

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

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