The Word Vancouver festival’s annual celebration of all things literary is getting set to present its 2019 edition, which will take over venues around town starting September 24, and end on September 29 with a huge array of panels, talks, readings, and more at the Vancouver Public Library downtown. At the heart of the fesitval is, as always, a wide-ranging roster of authors.
The Straight approached a group of these writers and asked them to describe their most significant experiences as readers. Which books fired up their desire to become authors themselves? Which ones resonated in a life-changing way?
Here’s what Victoria’s Eve Joseph told us. Her three collections of poetry include Quarrels, winner of the 2019 Griffin Prize. She’ll join Evelyn Lau and Marilyn Bowering at 11:30 a.m. on September 29, on the Poetry Stage located on the ninth floor of the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch.
Various books have accompanied me at different times in my life but the one that has had a lasting impact and become a kind of essential companion for me is John Thompson’s Stilt Jack.
This slender volume of ghazals, published in 1978, startled me with its spare imagery and associative thinking. Maybe we love a book because we see something of ourselves in it. In a brief introduction to the collection, Thompson writes: “The ghazal allows the imagination to move by its own nature: discovering an alien design, illogical and without sense—a chart of the disorderly…it is the poem of contrasts, dreams, astonishing leaps.”
Finding this book felt like finding a key to myself. It freed me from narrative and illuminated the movement of the mind. And it led me to trust, on the deepest level, that everything is connected—even when those connections are not immediately apparent.