Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Edward Carson

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March 27, 2010 -

Open Book: Toronto:

Tell us about your latest book, Taking Shape.

Edward Carson:

Taking Shape is about love, its powerful personal history, its public geography and geology, how it changes, how it shifts itself into different forms and temporalities, and how that love profoundly alters an individual’s point of view and the world at large. Finally, Taking Shape also is about the nature of shape, how the very form or vessel, like language itself, persuades us to take on as well as escape from the many breathtaking landscapes and mysteries, clues and possibilities of our shared lives.

But why believe me... when you can hear what others have to say:

Ed Carson’s Taking Shape is a gem. In this new book of interconnected poems, in an attempt to name what love is, to give it a shape that can be grasped, like a metaphysical lapidarist he facets and re-facets its language so that the light it reveals refracts and reflects within it and "exceeds its reason for being". “We come away believing in the shape of something with no shape at all.” - Brian Henderson, author of Nerve Language

Edward Carson's linked poems praise at once the logic of love and the place of love. Taking Shape combines his elegance of style and imagination (think of a musical composition) with the immediacy of the erotic. A rare performance. – Robert Kroetsch, author of The Hornbooks of Rita K

Ed Carson’s linked poems, Taking Shape, rising and falling in easy cadences, examine how things take shape in the world. Yet for all their fluidity, these poems have a blade-sharp edge. Showing us “held together in a fierce ring of light,” they reveal, poignantly, what it is that makes us human. – Anne Simpson, author of Loop and Quick

Love, the argument goes, is not a force that can be contained: Ed Carson’s poems in Taking Place don’t attempt to bind the un-bindable – they approximate love’s flavour, turning outward to the other and inward to the self, and also wandering among love's mysteries, This meditation on love over time rewards re-reading: the reach for the divine is threaded through with human failings: these strike me as not only graceful, but truthful poems. – Marilyn Bowering, author of Green and What It Takes To Be Human

Edward Carson's Taking Shape is a feast of immanent thinking. It shows that time-worn tools can indeed, when used with patience, sensitivity, rigour, and devotion, yield pleasures rare and contemporary. – Mark Truscott, author of Said Like Reeds or Things

Edward Carson's Taking Shape is a subtle meditation on love and change, lovers caught up in the changes and rhythms of life on this mortal earth. The elegant couplets repeat phrases, words, and images to hypnotic effect. In a manner reminiscent of E.D. Blodgett's Apostrophes -- yet entirely its own –Taking Shape in its play on repetition and variation traces "the faint / shape of things taking shape," evoking the weather of love. – Hilary Clark, author of The Dwelling of Weather

“With evocative imagery and the keen eye of a photographer, Carson gives shape to a language of the heart.” – Christopher Dewdney, author of Signal Fires and Acquainted with the Night

OBT:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

EC:

If memory serves, the first poem published was in the early 70s, in Descant, a literary magazine still publishing out of Toronto. The first book (poems) was Scenes, published through The Porcupine’s Quill in 1977. Soon after that, but not because of it, I never wrote another poem until 2007.

OBT:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

EC:

Sorry, but nothing comes to mind. I think the greatest single influence, cultural or otherwise, on all writers today is the internet.

OBT:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

EC:

The Art of Emily Carr by Doris Shadbolt
Christopher Pratt by David Silcox
Lawren Harris by Joan Murray

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

EC:

My home office between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. Dead quiet.

OBT:

Is there a book that you think you should have read by now but haven’t?

EC:

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

EC:

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges.

OBT:

Do you have a specific readership in mind when you write?

EC:

No. Anyone should be able to read my work and claim access to it.

OBT:

What are you working on right now?

EC:

I’ve just completed and submitted to my publisher a new book of poems, Birds Flock Fish School, and have begun work on the next book, tentatively titled, Design of the Thinking Heart.

OBT:

Do you have any advice for writers who are trying to get published?

EC:

In publishing, nothing is as invisible as the obvious.

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