News and Interviews

Poet & Artist Judy Lowry on Her Reading Life, from Wordsworth Woes to Beat Poet Surprises

Judy Lowry trimmed  IMGP2098

Judy Lowry's unforgotten dream (The Brucedale Press) is a poetry collection informed by the stark beauty of Grey County, where Lowry (who is also an artist) lives. The poems range freely, living up to the book's title, tied together by Lowry's raw, autobiographical voice that turns outwards to observe the political and natural world as often, and as successfully, as it turns inwards to guide readers through the unmapped territory of the emotional. 

We're pleased to welcome Judy to Open Book today to take on our WAR: Writers as Readers questionnaire, where we ask authors to tell us all about their reading life and how it has informed their writing. From early favourites to guilty omissions, we love to hear it all. Judy tells us about a surprising take on Wordsword she came across in her youth, the beat poet she resisted but eventually came to love, and the writer whose books she's burning through right now. 

WAR: Writers as Readers with Judy Lowry

The first book I remember reading on my own:

A Child's Garden Of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. When I recited "Daffodils" by William Wordsworth for a Grade 7 assignment I was given a raking over the coals midway through my performance, instructed to sit down and in future pick something less childish. Distraught by this experience my father assured me Wordsworth was a fine poet and my choice was suitable.

A book that made me cry:

I don't cry easily when reading, that occurs more with visuals but Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence succeeded. It conjured for me Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Museum's main character secretly collected objects from his beloved. As a collector it seemed Pamuk was speaking directly to me. The unrequited love and deep tragedy that permeated the book brought me to tears.

A book that made me laugh out loud:

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. I assumed it was a fluff book of drugs, sex, and rock and roll. I was finally convinced to read it by my partner who could not sing enough of its praises, (continually quoting "pearls before swine). I lapped it up among fits of laughter.

A book I feel I should have read but haven't:

Marcel Proust's Remembrance of things Past. It was suggested by a friend in the late 70's that I was ready to read it. I bought it then and it presently sits on my bed stand having failed again to get into it. I mentioned recently to a friend my desire to read it. She summarily dismissed my ambition. It is a bit heavy to hold above me as I recline.

The book I would give my seventeen year old self, if I could:

On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I came to Kerouac late in life, in my fifties and even though "The Beats" had become somewhat known in my circle as THAT GROUP OF MEN, Kerouac became a delightful obsession, his poetry book Heaven and Other Poems a revelation.

A book I feel strongly influenced me as a writer and why:

Mexico City Blues by Jack Kerouac. I bought it, read it in one go. It was like a bomb went off in my head. His irreverence, playfulness with language, to say nothing of the myths behind the work. Whether those stories are true or not or just hype made no difference to me. It was pivotal for my work. I only wish I could tap into some of his genius. Soon after, I came across an article on Bob Dylan where he credited the reading of Mexico City Blues with inspiring his songwriting.

The best book I read in the last six months:

A quest for me has been to read every Orhan Pamuk novel I can get my hands on. Snow was my introduction to his work and after reading the better-known ones I started to hunt out his earlier, more obscure novels. I recently ordered The Black Book through my inter-loan library service to realize I had read it a few years ago. Never the less it remains the best book I've read in the last six months.

The book I plan on reading next:

Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Issacson is the next book I plan on reading. A Christmas present chosen because the giver knows I devour biographies and autobiographies of artists. Leonardo has always held a special interest for me having studied Art History and being a history freak.