Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Merle Nudelman

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Ten Questions with Merle Nudelman

Merle Nudelman talks to Open Book about her ideal writing environment, her first publication, her latest book, The He We Knew (Guernica Editions), and more. She will be reading at the Art Bar Poetry Series on Tuesday, September 7. See our Events Page for details.

Open Book:

Tell us about your latest book, The He We Knew.

Merle Nudelman:

The He We Knew is my third book of poetry. In this collection I examine the corners and rooms of home. What is home physically, emotionally and spiritually? The book contains a suite of poems about the homeless and the displaced and grapples with the ripples of a broken relationship. Shifting from the personal to the global, I reflect on the role of love, faith and compassion in our own lives and in the world at large.

OB:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

MN:

When I wrote these poems, I did so to explore my feelings and insights around these issues rather than restricting myself to a particular audience. I believe that this book resonates with anyone who has endured a deep loss in their life about which they seek meaning and healing as well as with those struggling with the philosophical question, "What is home?"

OB:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

MN:

My ideal writing environment is on a porch overlooking a peaceful northern lake where the only sounds are the waves, the wind and the warbling of birds.

OB:

What was your first publication?

MN:

My first publication was a collection of poems titled Borrowed Light (Guernica Editions, 2003). Prior to that my poems had appeared in various literary journals, newspapers and zines.

OB:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

MN:

The flourishing cultural diversity within Toronto presents ongoing opportunities to taste, hear and learn of the richness of other cultures. These experiences have heightened my sense of connection and oneness with the peoples of the world which is reflected in my poems.

OB:

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

MN:

For a Welcome to Canada gift, the three books I would select are The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro, The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx and In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje.

OB:

What are you reading right now?

MN:

Right now I'm reading October by Richard B. Wright.

OB:

What's the best advice you've received as a writer?

MN:

The best advice I've ever received as a writer is to stay true to your own voice and to what you are compelled to write about.

OB:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

MN:

My advice for writers who are trying to get published is to research various publishers to find a good fit for your work and don't give up if your manuscript is rejected. Keep sending it out.

OB:

What's your next project?

MN:

My next project is a book of poems which is tentatively titled Waking with Blue Rhino and follows the first four years in the life of a little girl.


Merle Nudelman is a poet, editor and teacher. Her first collection of poems, Borrowed Light, won the 2004 Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry. Merle's second book of poetry, We, the Women (Guernica Editions, 2006), and Borrowed Light each garnered a prize in the Arizona Authors Association Literary Contest. Her third poetry collection, The He We Knew, was recently released by Guernica Editions. Merle's poems have been widely published and she has done many readings from her books in Toronto, Hamilton, Central Ontario and Arizona. She lives in Toronto where she teaches memoir writing and gives workshops on growth through writing as well as on the Holocaust. Merle is poetry editor of the Canadian annual literary journal Parchment.

For more information about The He We Knew please visit the Guernica Editions website.

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

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