Reader Profile: Curtis LeBlanc

For every day of our Indiegogo campaign, we’ll be sharing profiles from readers and supporters of Glass Bookshop both local to the city and from across Canada. Visit our campaign page now to claim cool perks and support us in building a beautiful brick-and-mortar space in downtown Edmonton. And read on to discover why today’s featured reader is excited to one day visit Glass Bookshop!

Curtis LeBlanc was born and raised in St. Albert, Alberta. His first book-length collection of poetry, Little Wild, was published by Nightwood Editions in Spring of 2018. His poetry chapbook Good for Nothing was published by Anstruther Press in 2017. His work has been shortlisted for The Walrus Poetry Prize, received the Readers’ Choice Award in the Arc Poem of the Year Contest, an Honourable Mention in the Margaret Reid Poetry Contest, and was twice shortlisted for CV2‘s Young Buck Poetry Prize. He’s also co-founder and Managing Editor of Rahila’s Ghost Press and a co-host of Tonic Reading Series.He currently resides in Vancouver, BC, with his partner, Mallory Tater, and is working on his first novel. Read on to learn how literature influences Curtis’ sense of community and how he hopes Glass Bookshop will serve Edmonton’s literary community.

How did books and the act of reading come to be meaningful to you?
I was an avid reader when I was younger, but I admit I took a bit of a break at the beginning of high school. At least I thought it was a break. What I really got into was music, and the part that interested me the most was the lyrics. It took me a few years to make the connection back to books and literature, but once I did I was hooked for life.

What is your relationship now to books and reading?
The best thing about literature for me right now is that I actually get to contribute to it through writing my own books and also publishing them with Rahila's Ghost Press. I find myself reading mostly poetry these days. I also get to do a fair bit of reading—poetry and prose—in my part-time job teaching high school English to students with Autism and other learning disabilities/difficulties.

Is there a book that has had significant impact on you?
I'd say the biggest "ah-ha" moment I've had with a book in relation to my own writing was Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. It was the way he told stories of the every-day, building tension through the quiet withholding of key information, that really captured me.

How does literature influence your sense of community?
Literature pretty much is my community right now. The majority of my friends are writers; my wife is also a writer and we trade work and talk shop constantly. When we go out, we're checking out readings or talking about books we like or about writing. I'm around it constantly.

How do you find new books or writers?
Obviously word of mouth is a big one, but Twitter also comes to mind when I think about being exposed to new writers and books I haven't read. Authors I like will share poems or books they're into and I'll add them to my list. Hot tip: my friend Shaun Robinson has an encyclopedic knowledge of poetry and is really good at knowing what people will like. Ask him for a recommendation!

Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had in a bookstore? What makes it stand out for you?
In high school, I worked across the parking lot from a Chapters and I would go every single break that I could, even when it was just fifteen minutes, and browse the fiction and poetry sections. I spent a good chunk of what I earned there on books. I guess that's not a single experience, but collectively those trips to the bookstore really helped rekindle my love of reading. I wish it was an independent shop like Glass Bookshop that was in that parking lot though. I do almost all my book buying at independent retailers now.

What do you think Glass Bookshop could offer Edmonton’s community of readers and writers?
I hope it's a place where people can go to expand their roster of author's they enjoy, where the staff will strike up conversations about the books people are looking at and have awesome and diverse suggestions ready to go. I've always loved finding books and authors this way. Based on the team behind Glass, I'm sure it'll be exactly that kind of place.

Want to help make this reader’s dream for Glass Bookshop a reality? Support Glass Bookshop’s Indiegogo campaign by buying some cool perks today here:

Curtis LeBlanc
Matthew Stepanic