We chat with poet and author of the recently published collection
Mad Long Emotion (Coach House Books) Ben Ladouceur — who the Dayne Ogilvie Prize jury called "someone with chops and fodder, someone fully formed and bent on risk" — about the magic of re-reading novels, fictional characters, and writing life.
Ben Ladouceur: I always like to read a book that’s super different from whatever book I just read. After a thin book I feel like a tome, a beachy read after a sad book, a book by a dead person after a book that was just published, that kind of thing. Mostly novels lately.
ALU: Do you have a book that you’ve gone back and read several times?
BL: Liar by Lynn Crosbie, Pigeon by Karen Solie, the chapbook Cloudpeople by Matthew Walsh, the chapbook Letter on St. Valentine’s Day by Elisabeth de Mariaffi, and
the “Issues Issue” of Grain are all poetry collections that I still find myself checking in on regularly-ish, years after first reading them. But I’ve only recently discovered the magic of re-reading novels. I used to think it was a strange use of time, but now I see that some novels basically tell you to come back again in ten years when you’re different.
Advice from Ben: "Obey your WIERD dreams."
ALU: Who is your favourite fictional character?
BL: I’m trying hard to think of someone! But every time I think of one, I realize that all the characters from that fictional world are amazing, not just the one. Some books/stuff that I’ve consumed that had extremely rich, multidimensional, living characters include A True Novel (by Minae Mizumura), Kristin Lavransdatter (by Sigrid Undset), Angels in America, Mad Men, Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High, Star Trek: The Next Generation.
ALU: Describe your perfect writing day.
BL: Any day at the end of which I’m able to say “I used the time I had well” is as close to “perfect writing day” as it gets.
Ben's incredibly neat workspace.
ALU: Why do you write?
BL: I don’t write all the time. But if I go too many days without doing it I feel grimy, almost the same as if I don’t shower.
ALU: What are you working on now?
BL: I’m writing fiction, learning French, and getting into jogging.
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Ben Ladouceur lives in rowhouse in Ottawa. He has no pets, but there’s a male cat named Lola who visits the backyard sometimes. There’s a garden but Ben definitely doesn’t do the gardening. He’s in charge of the small indoor plants and usually they die.
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A special thanks to James at Coach House Books for connecting us with Ben, and to Ben for answering our questions! For more writer's block,
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