Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Julie Joosten

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March 31, 2015 - Julie Joosten is the April 2015 writer-in-residence at Open Book Toronto! We're thrilled to have Julie, an acclaimed poet, with us to celebrate poetry month. Today we speak to Julie as part of the Proust Questionnaire.

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.

Julie tells us about the best place to watch the tide change direction, makes a good point about the ostrich and shares a motto we can definitely get behind.


What is your dream of happiness?

A modest, local happiness: warm tea, sleeping dogs, sun coming through the window, the sound of footsteps overhead while I read, my journal and pen nearby.

What is your idea of misery?

Dante’s 7th circle; WWI trenches; the absence of love; drought; racism; oil spills.

Where would you like to live?

In a lighthouse on the Bay of Fundy, where each day I’d watch the tide change directions, or in the centre of a Japanese garden.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

Startling capacities for empathy, hilarity, and seeing slant.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

Startling capacities for empathy, hilarity, and seeing slant.

What is your chief characteristic?


What is your principal fault?


What is your greatest extravagance?


What faults in others are you most tolerant of?


What do you value most about your friends?

Stubbornness and thoughtfulness and lovingness.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

Greed and intolerance.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?

Greed and intolerance.

What is your favourite virtue?


What is your favourite occupation?


What would you like to be?

A cellist.

What is your favourite colour?


What is your favourite flower?


What is your favourite bird?

Who doesn’t love an ostrich?

Who is your favourite painter?

Agnes Martin.

Who is your favourite musician?

These questions require such certainty...

What is your favourite food?

Carrot cake.

What is your favourite drink?

Black tea.

What is it you most dislike?

Greed and Intolerance.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?


How do you want to die?


What is your current state of mind?


What is your motto?


Julie Joosten is originally from Georgia but now lives in Toronto. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers Program and a PhD from Cornell University. Her poems and reviews can be read in like starlings, Lemon Hound, Lit, Jacket 2, Tarpaulin Sky, the Malahat Review and The Fiddlehead. She recently guest edited an issue of BafterC, a journal of contemporary poetry. Her first book, Light Light, was shortlisted for the 2014 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, and the 2014 Goldie Award.

Check out all the Proust Questionnaire interviews in our archives.

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