Apr 11, 2019
Eric Ormsby is a poet, a writer, and a man of letters. He was a longtime resident of Montreal, where he was the Director of University Libraries and subsequently a professor of Islamic thought at McGill University Institute of Islamic Studies. Presently, he lives and writes in France and Prague.
Ormsby began writing poetry as a young man and began publishing in 1985. He has produced six poetry collections, among them Bavarian Shrine and Other Poems (1990), which won a Quebec prize for the best poetry of that year, Coastlines (1992), and Time's Covenant: Selected Poems (2006). His poems have been published in various journals and magazines such as The New Yorker and The Paris Review and anthologized in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. He has also authored a book of criticism called Fine Incisions, which we talked about when we got together in Montreal.
Among other things we discuss the art of book reviewing, his aesthetic criteria, honesty, negative reviews, W.B.Yeats, Shakespeare and Eric's grandmother, standards and touchstones, Montreal, Canadian book design, William Logan, the first and last lines of a review, justice, personal affiliations, Tolstoy, War and Peace, self-revelation, translation, and the poet Daryl Hine. To finish off, Eric reads several of his poems.