READ ALL OVER — Catherine Owen

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Read All Over celebrates the bookworm in all of us, showcasing readers in Vancouver and the books they love most.
Catherine Owen is a poet, writer, bassist, and editor. She has published nine volumes of poetry, one of epistles, and a volume of prose essays and memoirs. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, been translated into three languages, and has won a number of prizes including the Stephan G. Stephansson Prize.

She has played bass in the metal bands Inhuman and Helgrind and her current metal project is Medea.

Her most recent collection of poetry, Trobairitz, was released Fall 2012 by Anvil Press. Catherine will be one of the writers at tonight’s Incite at the Vancouver Public Library.

 

What are you currently reading? Your thoughts on it?

I am literally a voracious reader. I read multiple, yes REAL, books at once, can speed-read and need if at all possible to read while eating & on the loo!

Let’s see, if I could pick one to tell you about – ok, Theresa Kishkan’s memoir Mnemonic: A Book of Trees – lyrical, full of memories of the West Coast, Ireland, Greece, revealing with supreme delicacy how human life is shaped by the environment, the diversity of trees Kishkan has encountered over her 55 years sustaining her, providing narrative and emotional structure. Gorgeously detailed and always tender.

What books have changed your life?

Robinson Jeffers’ books. All of them. But perhaps especially The Double Axe, Roan Stallion, Give your Heart to the Hawks. Turbulent beauty framed in a Californian/Greek tragic-epic landscape in lines of quantitative surf.

The one book you always recommend is:

Marie Claire Blais’ Three Travelers, a novella about a triadic, poetic love between artists. Relentlessly moving.

Favourite Vancouver/Lower Mainland writer?

I don’t like the word ‘favourite’ really as I prefer multiplicity in everything but I loved Vancouverite Mike Schertzer’s work years ago before he moved to Paris, especially his surreal tales in Short Films from the 14th Century, and his incessant multi-disciplinarity, so ahead of its time in this town.

What’s next on your reading list?

A biography of Leonard Cohen called I’m Your Man. Poetry by Peter Van Toorn, a. rawlings, Louise Cotnoir. Essays on eco-poetics by Scott Knickerbocker.

What book or story impressed you as a child?  Were you obsessed with any particular ones?

I loved books rampantly. Particularly exotically grandiose stuff like Pearl S Buck’s The Good Earth, wrenching biographies such as Lust for Life on Van Gogh and the gothic works of John Bellairs. I still adore kids’ books and have a massive collection of them.

What is the most cherished item in your library?

My 1842 edition of Gulliver’s Travels. O and my 1973 Treasury of Children’s Verse. Hugely inspirational! Hard to choose though as I have so many antique books, most from my family’s vast libraries that I have gathered together over time.

What magazines or journals can you not live without?

I subscribe to CNQThe FiddleheadThe Malahat,  subTerrainNew QuarterlyARC and Geist. They are all cool. Next plan is to get the LRC and Quill & Quire.

What writer would you love to hear read their work?

I have never heard Nicole Brossard yet but I am about to when I read WITH her at the VPL tonight as part of INCITE. Yay!

Catherine’s favourite bookcase, built by her Dad.

Your life story is published tomorrow. What’s the title?

TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN POETRY: The unfinished lives of Catherine Owen

Catherine Owen, John Barton, Nicole Brossard will be reading at tonight’s Incite: An Exploration Of Books And Ideas. Presented by the Vancouver Writers Fest in partnership with the Vancouver Public Library, this free event starts at 7:30, with doors at 7 pm, in the Alice Mackay Room at the Central Library, 350 W. Georgia St.

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