Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Poetry, Pasta and Prosecco: An Interview with Daniel David Moses and Moira MacDougall

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Poetry, Prosecco & Pasta is a three-part intimate dinner series featuring moderated conversations with poets Molly Peacock, Erín Moure and Daniel David Moses. In a corresponding three-part interview series, Open Book is pleased to have the opportunity to talk with each poet and moderator.

Closing the series is author Daniel David Moses, author of Sixteen Jesuses (Exile Editions). His dinner and discussion takes place at Grano Ristorante on Thursday, July 22. The night will be moderated by Moira MacDougall.

Open Book: Toronto:

If you could have a dinner party with five people, living or dead, famous or not, who would they be? Why?

Daniel David Moses:

I heard somewhere that six is the ideal number of guests for a dinner party, but no matter the count, I suggest steering clear of the dead, even if they are famous. If you find yourself eating in such company, you’ve entered the world of zombies, who, despite their popularity with the young, are not likely to be the life of your party. (And, honestly, who in their right minds eats brains fresh? Crisp is the way to go.)

On top of that, just think about how difficult having more than one famous person at a table would be. Think about having one of them! You’d have no opportunity to even enjoy your food if you’re worrying about making introductions and directing the conversation to massage his or her ego or for fear of their egos crossing. I don’t recommend it.

Moira MacDougall:

These are all men (yes, sorry), who are recognizable by virtue of a single name, all lived on the fringes of mainstream culture and who transformed our world through their thinking, their hearts and the way they moved through the world.

Jesus – to meet the man behind the myth

Mohammed – ditto

Buddha – well, why not three dittos?

Spinoza - a Dutch philosopher so far ahead of his era – (17th c) and who lay the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism. Brilliant, humble, revolutionary.

Dostoyevsky – The Brothers Karamazov changed my life – did he get it "right" in the Grand Inquisitor? Think he might like to know.

Mandela - the modern embodiment of intelligence, compassion and grace.


What is your favourite Toronto restaurant?


Once upon a time, when it was on Queen West, le Select Bistro offered, as the Harbourfront Festival Prize, an account at their banquet, a bounty for the winner. Those were the days!

Do they still serve their prune and Armagnac ice cream?




Omi Sushi


What elements would your ideal dinner entail (ie. Perfect company, favourite food, ideal setting)?


I grew up on a farm and still take pleasure in eating pork as an act of revenge for the famous incident (in the family at least: my grandma never tired of the story) in which a herd of swine — I was trying to fill their trough — tipped me over and into their stink. My fury and discomfort was so much larger than my ten-year-old self that I walked like Frankenstein’s monster as performed by Karloff.

So I’m thinking a nice tenderloin, stuffed with dried apricot and pear, ginger, garlic and, oh, wild rice and Indian squash.

The setting? Hey, as long as the dishes are clean, I’m fine, thank you very much.


Perfect company (of course): My small circle of women friends who are Brilliant in their own diverse pursuits, funny, compassionate and know how kick up their heels!

Ideal setting: Late summer evening on a garden patio in Positano, Italy overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Favourite foods: Champagne and fresh oysters, bouillabaisse, endive salad with Roquefort and walnuts, risotto, rabbit, cheeses, fresh fruit, dark chocolate. Wine to match each course.


Name one food that describes Toronto to you and why.


One food? And one that talks....

Are you sure the talking food you’re talking about is talking Toronto, oh hallucinating interrogator? City of the many neighbourhoods and cultures and obsessive chefs? City of millions of sophisticated stomachs?

Or are you (excuse me if I’ve insulted you) one of those better-functioning zombies?


Impossible! It is the ready availability of such diverse foods that makes Toronto so special — I can walk out my door and enjoy good sushi, Thai, Indian, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, Mexican, French, continental, formal, informal....


What is your ideal writing environment?


I’m sorry, but aren’t we talking about eating? Who can write when they’re hungry? Not me. (Maybe that’s why there is no zombie-authored literature.) Do you have any cookies in that purse?


Alone, by big water (I’ll just stay in Positano after dinner for a few months), no neighbours in sight! Desk by a large window that opens (so you can hear the wind and waves); and a porch with a hammock, where you can go comfortably horizontal and read, nap, think and dream.


How well can you cook?


I’ve just about perfected my baked potato. Of course, it’s so rare when I cook for others, the astonishment they feel precludes any accurate assessment of the accomplishment.


Ask family and friends, think they’d tell you pretty good.


Tell us about the poems you'll be reading at Poetry, Prosecco & Pasta.


They’re from my book Sixteen Jesuses, published by Exile Editions. The poems are about family, friends, love and art. Occasionally they rhyme, if that wets your appetite.

Daniel David Moses, one of Canada’s foremost First Nations writers, a registered Delaware Indian, was born and raised on the Six Nations lands along the Grand River. He is a poet, playwright, dramaturge, editor, essayist, and teacher. In 2003 he was appointed to the Department of Drama at Queen’s University where he is now an associate professor. His poems are collected in Delicate Bodies, The White Line and Sixteen Jesuses. Plays include Coyote City (a nominee for the 1991 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama), The Dreaming Beauty, Big Buck City and, his best known work, Almighty Voice and His Wife. Daniel is also co-editor of An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English. Recent publications include Pursued by a Bear, Talks, Monologues and Tales, essays; Kyotopolis, a play in two acts; and River Range, Poems, readings of a suite of poems recorded with new music by David Deleary. His honours include a 2001 Harold Award, the 2001 Harbourfront Festival Prize, a 2003 Chalmers Arts Fellowship, as well as being short-listed for the 2005 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre.

For more information about Sixteen Jesuses please visit the Exile Editions website.

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

Moira MacDougall's artistic life began as a serious student of classical ballet and modern dance. It is poetry, however, that has wed her love of movement and rhythm with voice and linguistic performance. Academically, her studies include undergraduate degrees in English, humanities and psychology; and an M.A. in adult education. Her first collection of poems, Bone Dream, was launched in June 2009 by Tightrope Press. She is currently the Poetry Editor for the Literary Review of Canada.

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