Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Poet, Journalist, and Editor Michael Lista

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The Questionless Books Interview: Poet, Journalist, and Editor Michael Lista

In The Questionless Books Interview, I get a whole bunch of books people (from authors to editors to publishers to sales/publicity/production people, booksellers, designers, librarians, readers, etc) to "answer" a series of unspoken "questions". The results highlight a delightful mix of the opportunities and challenges facing our sector: from doom and gloom to sunshine and rainbows, and every irony in between.

Michael Lista is the author of Bloom, the critically acclaimed collection of poems that was named one of Quill and Quire's ten best books of 2010. His work has been nominated for the National Magazine Award, and twice for the Pushcart Prize. Lista is the Poetry Editor of The Walrus and he writes a popular monthly column, On Poetry, for the National Post. He lives in Toronto.


I am...Michael Lista

I am known to...write poems, a column on poems, and edit poetry for The Walrus

I do this in...a small room across from an old church

I do this because...I’m serious about my financial future

I do this when not playing Jeopardy at my local, The Wilson 96

The way I do this is...all jazz hands and good breaks

At his/her core, a Writer is...a decent liar

As opposed to an Author, who is...a decent liar in a handsome sport coat

A Writer is responsible for...putting the commas in

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for...taking the commas out

At its core, Publishing is...finally delivering the comeback you couldn’t think of in time.

As opposed to Editing, which is...why you stood there dumbstruck for so long

A Publisher should always...offer the drink first and the bad news second

As opposed to an Editor, who should always...offer the bad news first and the drink second

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is...asking for trouble

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be ready by others, which is...trouble

A Manuscript should single-sided

As opposed to a Book, which should always...smell at least as good as it reads

At its core, Bookselling is...over my head

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is...under the table

The smallest unit of narrative is...the sigh

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is...that there’s no one left to torture

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is...that it is murder

In the future we will all...Repent! Repent!

At his/her core, a Reader is...a fact

However, the ideal Reader is...a fiction

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.

Related item from our archives

George Murray

George Murray’s six books of poetry include The Rush to Here and The Hunter. His most recent books, Whiteout and Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms, are published by ECW Press. He is the editor of the popular literary website

Go to George Murray’s Author Page