Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Poetry, Pasta and Prosecco: An Interview with Erin Moure and Priscila Uppal

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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.

Next up is poet Erin Moure, author of O Resplandor (House of Anansi), whose dinner and discussion takes place at Grano Ristorante on Thursday, July 15. The night will be moderated by Piscila Uppal.

Open Book: Toronto:

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

Erin Moure:

Ah, I have dinner parties all the time with my friends and love them the best. But at my fantasy dinner party, I'd invite friends who've died whom I remember as being great fun at dinners:

Anastasia Hamulyak (my grandmother, d. 1963), Paul Letain (my old boss and mentor at VIA, d. 1989), Kathleen Martindale (feminist critic of great energy, d. 1995), my Mom (a force of nature, d. 2007), Robin Blaser (great poet, d. 2009). We would talk in French and English and Ukrainian, all at once.

Priscila Uppal:

Don Quixote: for his chivalric manners, fabulous conversation skills, and ability to instigate rowdy brawls

Dorothy Parker: for her cheeky poetry and her lugubriousness

Alexander Ovechkin: for his bodychecks and party hat tricks

Christopher Doda: because he's been my fella for 14 years and would be duly insulted if I didn't invite him

and Bono: because he's Bono


What is your favourite Toronto restaurant?


Nazareth on Bloor near Dovercourt... (I love Ethiopian cuisine coz there are no peanuts anywhere!)....


The Rushton on St. Clair West

Great staff, great food, great atmosphere.


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


A barbeque with real charcoal on a terrasse near the beach in Galicia... with wooden plates of polbo á feira, and sardiñas á brasa...


My ideal dinner is an exquisite meal prepared and served by fine chefs to my finest friends with a line-up of our favourite bands playing a private concert for us. Lots of champagne flowing. Perhaps on a beach in Barbados?


Name one food that describes Toronto to you and why.


Peameal bacon sarnies at St. Lawrence market. Coz we dont eat peameal bacon in Montreal and I like it better than smoked meat!


I can't possibly pick one. What I love about Toronto is the food variety available. The CNE every year has this food pavilion where you can get fast food Dim Sum or Gyros or Curry or Buffalo Burgers or Perogies or Waffles or anything else you can imagine all within a few feet of each other. To me it's a microcosm of what is available in Toronto as a whole. I love that I can walk down my street every night and choose between Thai and Southern U.S. and Italian and Indian and French and Mexican and Brazilian and Caribbean and Greek and Chinese and Ethiopian food and more.


What is your ideal writing environment?


Any will do... ideal is sitting on the roof deck away from the internet...


I have a piece of patio furniture called an orbitor, which is a round two-person lounger with an umbrella in the middle and two side-tables attached to the side, with four portions that can be raised as back rests. I love writing on the orbitor during sunny summer days, my tabby cat Vergil on his leash sleeping at my side.


How well can you cook?


Ask my friends! They seem to keep coming back...


Because my mother left our household when I was eight years old, I cooked so much as a child and teenager that I resented cooking once I lived on my own and tried to do as little of it as possible. Now I tend to only cook when we're entertaining, and even then, I'm not sure heating things and chopping things up really counts as cooking.

I don't make a lot from scratch and I don't make anything too complicated. I can't remember the last time I baked.

My partner and I go to so many arts and literary events during the week that we rarely have the opportunity to cook for ourselves, so Toronto is an ideal city for us with so many great restaurants of all ethnic cuisines available at all different price points.


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


I'll be reading work from my new book O Resplandor (House of Anansi) in which "Elisa Sampedrín" translates a dead Romanian poet, Nichita Stanescu, into English, without knowing any Romanian and without being a native English speaker, and "Erín Moure" translates Paul Celan, not from German but from an English translation of an original in Romanian, translating English to English, as it were. And there is a winding mystery narrative as well in which everyone is looking for everyone else. It's about love and grief, in one sense, and how they accompany us... in another sense, it's about the glories of reading, really....

Erín Moure is a Montreal poet who writes mainly in English, albeit multilingually. In her most recent books, O Resplandor in 2010 and – in collaboration with Oana Avasilichioaei in 2009 – Expeditions of a Chimæra, poetry becomes hybrid, and we don’t know at times who is writing the book: maybe it is poetry, or the book itself. Moure has also translated Quebec poets Nicole Brossard (with Robert Majzels) and Louise Dupré, Galician poet Chus Pato, and Chilean Andrés Ajens into English, as well as Fernando Pessoa from Portuguese. Her essays on 25 years of writing practice, My Beloved Wager, also appeared in 2009. She has won or been nominated for many awards for her poetry since she started publishing in 1979, and also teaches and speaks nationally and internationally on poetry and translation.
For more information about O Resplandor please visit the Anansi website.

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

Priscila Uppal is a Toronto poet and fiction writer. Among her publications are five collections of poetry: How to Draw Blood From a Stone, Confessions of a Fertility Expert, Pretending to Die, Live Coverage, and Ontological Necessities; and the novel The Divine Economy of Salvation, published to critical acclaim and translated into Dutch and Greek. Her poetry has been translated into Korean, Croatian, Latvian, and Italian, and Ontological Necessities was short-listed for the prestigious Griffin Prize. She has a PhD in English literature and is a professor of humanities and English at York University in Toronto. Her second novel, To Whom It May Concern, was recently released by Doubleday Canada, as was an academic book, We Are What We Mourn: The Contemporary English-Canadian Elegy by McGill-Queen’s University Press. For more information please visit

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