Wednesday, December 04, 2013

12 or 20 questions: a (small) overview,

For those who haven't been keeping track, I've been running the "12 or 20 questions" series since September 2007, when I originally entered Edmonton for my tenure as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta. Often posting two or three interviews a day, I posted nearly two hundred interviews over the following nine months, focusing on Alberta and Ottawa writers of poetry, fiction and non-fiction (the interviews have since expanded to include comic book writers) while also including an array of writers from across Canada and around the world. Since that original series, I've posted hundreds more interviews in a second series of appended questions, and even a third, when I started the series of interviews with small publishers. I suspect the number leans very close to a thousand interviews over the past six years.

The idea was a variant on the meme, and was originally based upon a series American poet Kate Greenstreet was conducting with poets on their first books. I know some haven't been terribly interested in answering questions that aren't completely tied to their individual works, but I've been fascinated to see the variation between so many authors answering similar questions, from those who give lengthy answers to the incredibly pithy, to those who answer only a selection of the questions, to the rare one or two who have re-ordered, or even re-written the questions. Some of the pieces have been quite revelatory, and others provide rare insight into works that haven't yet received nearly the attention they should.

Over the years, some of the writers interviewed include George Bowering, John Lavery, Sandra Ridley, Myrna Kostash, Thomas Wharton, George Stanley, Sharon Thesen, Suzanne Buffam, Daphne Marlatt, Vincent Lam, Robert Pinsky, Rae Armantrout, Carrie Olivia Adams and Tim Lilburn. A more recent sampling of interviewed authors include Juliet Patterson, Lola Lemire Tostevin, Andre Alexis, Sadiqa de Meijer, Stacy Szymaszek, Christine McNair, Mark Tardi, Mathias Svalina, D.J. Dolack, Molly Gaudy, Robert Swereda, Kate Cayley, Steven Artelle, Sara Peters, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, kevin mcpherson eckhoff, Howard Chaykin and Missy Marston.

The small press questions have been far less, but have been able to include dozens of interviews with publishers large and small worldwide, including Odourless Press, dancing girl press, The Post-Apollo Press, AngelHousePress, Apt. 9 Press, No Press, New Star Books, Guernica Editions, The Capilano Review, Arc Poetry Magazine, Brick Books, Lipstick Press, Rubicon Press, The Porcupine's Quill, Apogee Press, Greenboathouse Press, Reality Street Editions and Horse Less Press.

The numbers of interviewed are, quite literally, into the hundreds, and I've heard since that a number of interviews are taught in various universities across North America. Some have even had hits numbering into the thousands. Who knew? I've been fascinated by the process, from interviewing larger names to being able to prod rare interviews with writers either emerging or set deep into the margins. The range here is quite stunning, even if I do say so myself.

Links to each series, listing hundreds of authors and presses in reverse order of posting, is below:

12 or 20 questions;

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

12 or 20 (small press) questions;

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