Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Literary Holiday Parties: Surani, Toane, Winger

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You're having a holiday party, and can invite any number of literary figures, living, dead, or fictional - who's invited, and why?

I've asked literary figures near and far the answer to this question. Poets seem to have been eager to reply, so here are three answers from three more lovely poets!


Moez Surani

John Lennon, Dante and Matsuo Basho. I choose these three for their openness and the giant adventure they made of their lives. All three wrote with the mentality of a pilgrim and revolutionary. I imagine John being the most voluble at the dinner table. I think Basho would have the best laugh. Dante would be the most guarded and most easily hurt – I think John would see that though. We’d need some wine. Lennon would keep the conversation rolling, he’d badger and provoke us, Basho would pockmark Lennon’s assertions with doubts and hollows. I don’t think Dante would hit his stride until about midnight. Lennon and Basho would probably have a good rapport and be talking over each other and buckling each other with paradoxes. Dante would tell long, lyrical, hypnotic stories. At 3 a.m. we’d get up and walk around the garden. Dante would look at the moon sadly, but with his resolve. Lennon would talk to the moon and beg it to not be so shy. Basho would lean his drunk shoulder against a tree and look at the moonlight glowing on some leaves. Or maybe their mood would have shifted by then and Basho would be murmuring at the moon, Lennon would be forlorn and Dante would be against a tree and mesmerized… At sunrise we’d wave farewell to each other and resume our separate journeys. Lennon would yell, “There’s no telephones where we’re going.” Basho would say, “But that’s not what being in touch is really about.” Dante would say his farewell with a formal dignity.


Carey Toane

Mine would be a hybrid living-dead ladies night. I love the idea of matchmaking (though would never dream of doing such a thing in reality!), so I've thought a bit about this seating arrangement:

I'd put Cheryl Strayed next to Susanna Moodie, next to my grandmother Jean, next to Elisabeth Bishop, next to my cat, Moyo, who hasn't written anything but talks an awful lot and is always on the table anyway. Finnish novelist Sofi Oksanen would hit it off with Liisa Ladouceur (assuming they haven't already met!). So would fossilist Mary Anning and poet Jenny Sampirisi. Tavi Gevinson could camp out on the couch with the whole editorial team from Sassy Magazine circa 1990. Patti Smith could school Emily Gould on how to really be skinny, broke, and cool in Brooklyn. Joan Didion would bring dessert and I would let her smoke inside. Michelle Obama would probably cancel. Sarah Silverman would stay to help me clean up.


Rob Winger

Jesus, Mohammad, and Buddha in one corner. Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Kilgore Trout in another. And then, in the centre of the ring, Adrienne Rich, who I so wish I'd met. And Pilate Dead, too, a wallflower, maybe. And Bubbles, from The Wire, because I'm still so glad he came upstairs.



Moez Surani is the author of the poetry collections Reticent Bodies and Floating Life. He currently lives in Toronto where he is the poetry editor for the Toronto Review of Books.

Rob Winger lives up in the hills northeast of Toronto and teaches at Trent. His latest book is The Chimney Stone, but he's working on a new one.

Carey Toane is a reference librarian at York University. She is the co-founder of the mechanical journal Toronto Poetry Vendors, and the original host of Toronto reading series Pivot at the Press Club. Her first poetry collection is The Crystal Palace (Mansfield Press 2011). Join TPV for a holiday party and launch at 3030 Dundas West on Dec 11 at 7 pm!



The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Sachiko Murakami

Sachiko Murakami is the author of the poetry collections The Invisibility Exhibit (Talonbooks, 2008), a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and Rebuild (Talonbooks, 2011). She lives in Toronto.

Go to Sachiko Murakami’s Author Page