The enduring Steve Venright

S ome books are sleepers. Some poems are created during sleep. It’s possible Steve Venright’s magical 2007 collection, Floors of Enduring Beauty, has elements of both those scenarios. We at Mansfield think Floors is one of the funniest, wisest, and smartest books published in this country so far this century.

Meanwhile, over at, our friend Jay Miller has caught up with Venright. Well, with Venright’s work. And the results are fascinatingly baffling:

It’s certain that Floors of Enduring Beauty is the product of a literary experiment gone horribly wrong, in the way that Fleming’s experiments with staphylococci went horribly wrong. Luckily, nobody’s playing with fire so no dogs were harmed in the making.

And then we wander over to a.rawlings’ amazing project, The Great Canadian Writer’s Craft, a fantastic compendium of interviews of Canadian writers conducted by curious and clever high school students. One of the most recent additions is a lovely conversation with Steve Venright, in which he divulges some of the great secrets of one of the most original minds in Canadian literature:

My tactic was to approach the act of writing as if it were a form of dreaming. I rarely know what I’m doing as a writer until I do it. There’s just a sense of curiosity and stimulation, an air of adventure, and I go with it. I try to have fun and never be bored by what I’m writing. At certain other times in my life, there’s been more gravity behind the impulse to write. As I get older, I seem to be more geared towards just having a blast with it. My instinct for humour took over during the writing of Enduring Beauty (or Floors, as I tend to call it.) Humour is one of our most transformational tools. If used just right it can be equally good for toppling oppressive regimes and breaking the ice at parties.

Just because something is humourous, it should be noted, doesn’t mean it isn’t “serious”. And despite my talking about having fun with the writing of Floors doesn’t mean that heavy issues of our times didn’t enter into it, one way or another: “The Turbulated Curtain” is partly, on one level, a response to the nightmare of 9/11 and what I viewed as the monumental lie behind the official story of how those events unfolded. (So don’t let nobody tell you I ain’t a serious writer, okay?)

Steve has a lot of other projects on the go these days — in the realms of books, recordings, and film — and we’re sure you’ll hear about them soon.

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