The Questionless Books Interview: Retiring Vancouver Poet Laureate Brad Cran
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.
Brad Cran served as Poet Laureate for the City of Vancouver from April of 2009 until October of 2011. He published his first book of poetry, The Good Life, in 2001 and his first book of nonfiction Hope in Shadows: Stories and Photographs of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (with Gillian Jerome) won the City of Vancouver Book Award and has raised over $50,000 for the people of the Downtown Eastside. His second book of poems, Ink on Paper, is forthcoming and he is currently finishing his second book of non-fiction The Truth About Ronald Reagan: How Movies Changed the World.
I am... Brad Cran a non-fiction writer, poet and former Poet Laureate for the City of Vancouver.
I am known to... publish books, write books and organize little initiatives within the Vancouver literary community such as the Vancouver 125 Legacy Books Project in which we brought ten important Vancouver books back into print this year.
I do this in... the spirit of community and out of respect for important writing.
I do this because... I enjoy it.
I do this when I... can fit it in to my life without causing my family undue stress.
The way I do this is... by thinking up a good idea and then trying to excite people who can help.
At his/her core, a Writer is... a motivated reader.
As opposed to an Author, who is... a writer who flies across the country in economy class to arrive at book signing tables as if he/she arrived via first class.
A Writer is responsible for... writing.
As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for... mortgage payments, grocery bills, and earning enough money and literary status so that one day he/she can have a mid-life crisis leave their spouse and/or family for a much younger spouse who will be the person to finally understand that the author is a genius worthy of first class flights and all the adoring people who line up at the book signing tables to say things like “I just love your character development.”
At its core, Publishing is... either, an act of generosity, an act of fiscal irresponsibility, an act of luck or perhaps a lucky and fiscally irresponsible act of generosity.
As opposed to Editing, which is... either an act of generosity or an act of sabotage.
A Publisher should always... balance his or her own private goals and ambitions with a need to further literature by seeking out solid works despite publishing trends, marketing possibilities or other pressures from the market place.
As opposed to an Editor, who should always... balance his or her own private goals and ambitions with a need to further literature by seeking out solid works despite publishing trends, marketing possibilities or other pressures from the market place.
A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is... a complete first draft.
As opposed to a Book that's ready to be ready by others, which is... the best we could do at the time of publication.
A Manuscript should always... have a purpose that exists outside and separate from a writer’s ambitions.
As opposed to a Book, which should always... have come from a manuscript that has a purpose that exists outside and separate from a writer’s ambitions.
At its core, Bookselling is... a nearly extinct art that has been replaced by the efficiency of the internet. It’s a solid replacement but as a bookseller the internet’s core is made up of computer code that attempts to mirror yourself back to you. You cannot walk into a store and pet computer code’s cat and listen as computer code tells you that the new Franzen novel is over-hyped.
As opposed to Book Marketing, which is... a quantifiable process which has a computer code heart. You can walk into a marketing division and hear in exact detail what computer code thinks about books.
The smallest unit of narrative is... a questionless question that I initially thought was answered perfectly when Mark Medley gave the answer: silence. After much thought I am going to take a risk and argue against his fine answer and say: a comma.
The biggest reason to anticipate the future is... to understand the implications of one’s writing and the space your writing might inhabit when it is published. Personally I want my writing to interact with the world and with issues that are important to the community I live in. This often means dealing with subjects that are of grave importance to real people and it is therefore ethical to anticipate and prepare for any given response from subjects or others implicated in a piece of writing.
The biggest reason to be scared of the future is... natural disasters such as earthquakes and the unthinkable loss of a loved one. The problems found in writing and publishing, in the scheme of things, carry a low fear threshold.
In the future we will all... be in a continued state of frustration struggling to solve pretty much the same problems we face today.
At his/her core, a Reader is... indefinable.
However, the ideal Reader is... able.