Friday, January 30, 2009

An Interview by Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit

Serena's answers to being interviewed by Monica (different questions) are here.

This is Serena's interview of me:

1. Why book blogging?

Reading and writing just go together naturally for me. I have written and published haiku poetry and articles on Japanese culture for many years. This satisfies my urge to write. And reading has always been my favourite pastime. I've been ill since early childhood and reading was the one thing that's always been accessible to me. Now that I'm disabled and confined at home, finding someone to share my love of books is more difficult. Most friends are so busy with jobs and family and volunteer work, they don't have much time for reading and talking about literature. When I could no longer go out to the library or bookstore my son set me up with a computer and I depend on it now for all things bookish. Book blogging lets me share with people what I read and recommend good books to others.

2. If you could have any career, what would it be and why?

I was always going to be a doctor, a missionary physician to be precise. I simply wanted to relieve suffering, particularly for those without good medical care available to them. I was turned down by the university because of my "poor prognosis". That's what you call irony. I did volunteer work as a Bible teacher for my entire adult life. I can no longer do it, but that's what I would want to do most now. It has always been both exciting and rewarding for me.

3. What are some of your obsessions/hobbies and what makes them so enjoyable?

Obsessions are minor with me except for books where it's an unstoppable force. I do love pens, calendars, bookmarks, postcards, writing paper, notebooks, diaries, etc. and can never have enough interesting or attractive ones. I don't cook or sew or do crafts of any kind, I had no one to teach me so I just never learned. I'm just bookish and rather dull except when I'm talking about what I've read. There are bookshelves in every room of the house-except the bathroom. I draw the line there.A few subjects are near-obsessive for me and I'm quick about getting hold of those I hear about. Holocaust literature, Jewish literature, African American history and literature, Japanese poetry and literature, Australian literature, books about books or bookshops, books written by medical doctors, as well as any that deal with leprosy, elephants, bees and bee keeping, tulips, pearl divers, orphans, nuns, priests, rabbis, prisons and prisoners, pianos, civil rights, psychiatry, psychiatric institutions, mental illness, suicide, alcoholism, illness, depression, grief, Alzheimer's, anti-Semitism, zoos and zookeepers, women doctors.
If they're well written fiction and deal with these subjects in a meaningful way I simply must read them and own them. I did read non-fiction about these subjects for forty years but my mind can't hold it all any more so I read mostly fiction now. And it would take an entire book to explain in what way or who in my life touched me with these things. A Jewish step grandfather, friends around the globe with a variety of life circumstances and experience, and wanting to be a doctor explains most of these interests.

4. Where would you go on vacation if you had six months off but could only choose 2 places?
Cuba, I love it there. In the Sierra Maestra Mountains in the south overlooking the sea, where it's only accessible on horseback. Or England, where I could visit all the writer's and poets homes and go to Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border which has forty book stores (mostly used books) in a town of 1,900 people. I've already done Charing Cross Road (in 1990) which was wonderful of course.

5. If you would love to hear one poet speak, who would it be and why?

(no longer living) Rilke because his work is so comforting to me when I read it.

(living) Yevgeny Yevtushenko because I've heard him read twice before (in my home town here in Canada and in Arkansas)and who doesn't love a performance by a good Russian poet. I like his work and he and my husband always have a good chin wag about things Russian because my husband escaped Eastern Europe under harrowing conditions during the Hungarian Revolution.

For those of you who might want to be interviewed, here are the directions:

Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

That was fun. Who want's to be interviewed?


  1. Hi Sandra, I would love to be interviewed by you.. :)

  2. PS. Do you have any good Jewish nonfiction to recommend?

  3. Sandra you did a great job answering this questions. I love the anwsers you gave for book blogging. Some of my favorite books are books about books. You need to read City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers.

  4. Sandra: Great I want to go to Hay-on-Wye to live! all those bookstores and too few people to enjoy all those books...I have to go there to increase the population.

    I don't think you are boring at all...what a vast array of subjects that interest you to near obsession.

    Thanks for participating. I loved you answers. I have some Cinquain published, but my haiku need work.

  5. Hi Sandra, not sure why I haven't visited before, wish I had - your blog is great and I enjoyed getting to know the person behind the blog through your interview!

  6. I have a Jewish honorary grandfather which explains some of my attachment to Jewish culture- it's interesting to me to know your interest has similiar roots :-)

  7. Sandra, I also have books in every room except the bathroom! And I've been dying to go to Hay-on-Wye ever since I heard of the place. Can you believe I've been to London twice and never done Charing Cross Road?

    I'm impressed by the breadth of your reading!

  8. It was really nice to get to know you a little better. I love your long list of all the topics you enjoy reading about. And I'd love to go back to England too, to Hay-on-Wye and all the other places we didn't get to.

  9. What an interesting interview - the list of book topics that grab you is diverse!

    Serena has interviewed me as well, so I won't ask for another one ... thanks for sharing so much about yourself (and I'll take that trip to Hay-on-Wye with anyone who's going!)



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