Five Questions with Spencer Gordon

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We asked Spencer Gordon five questions about what inspired Cruise Missile Liberals and what he’s been reading. Gordon’s new book of poetry will be launched through Toronto Lit Up on Thursday, November 9th and it’s free to attend!

IFOA: Cruise Missile Liberals has been described as turning exhaustion and “the rant” into art. What led to the creation of the collection? What was the spark?

Spencer Gordon: Ian Williams supplied that original quotation, by the way! All hail Ian.

Since this is a first collection, the spark must be traced back to my earliest, most disturbing doodles and incoherent attempts at communication—all as a fancy little boy who just wanted a dang treat! But the literal spark for this book, this physical artifact you’re obviously holding in your hands, caressing, was Amber McMillan, who works for Nightwood Editions, and who asked me if I had a full-length manuscript. To my shock, I did.

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5 Questions with GGBooks shortlist authors Michael Kaan & Jocelyn Parr

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Shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for English-language fiction, Michael Kaan and Jocelyn Parr answered a few questions for us ahead of their IFOA 2017 appearance. We discussed what it’s like being a debut author, the moment they found out they were shortlisted for the GGs and of course, their award nominated books. You can find both Michael and Jocelyn with the other nominees at the GGBooks @ IFOA event on October 23.

parr-jocelyn-uncertain-weights-and-measuresIFOA: What inspired your book?

Michael Kaan: The Water Beetles is based mostly on memoirs that my father wrote in the 80s and 90s about his experiences as young boy during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in WWII. But what inspired it was mostly the driving need to write and to find a story that I believed would connect to other people. I also wanted to find a way to talk about aspects of the war that are less well-known to western readers.

Jocelyn Parr: A friend happened to loan me a tremendous book called Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. It was filled with many very short, very intriguing articles, one of which described the brain institute that displayed Lenin’s brain in the early years of Stalin. I stumbled upon that article and then read everything else I could find about the institute. There didn’t turn out to be very much because the history of the institute had been systematically erased once the cult of Stalin surpassed the cult of Lenin. When my sources ran dry, I started inventing.

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