The Last Word with Eden Robinson

The Last Word with Eden Robinson

Avid reader, would-be weaver.

Eden Robinson (MFA’95, DLitt’18). Photo by Nadya Kwandibens, Red Works Photography.

Who was your childhood hero?

My dad.  

Describe the place you most like to spend time.

In the tub reading.

What was the last thing you read? 

An edited copy of the forthcoming novel Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson.

What or who makes you laugh out loud?

My sister.  

What’s the most important lesson you ever learned?

Stubborn, patient persistence trumps everything. Be as soft and relentless as water and you can carve the Grand Canyon.  

What’s your idea of the perfect day?

Curled up in my La-Z-Boy with a book and then walking by the ocean.

What was your nickname at school?

Bubbles.

What is your most prized possession?

I commissioned a cedar hat by Colleen Nelson, and it is so intricate and perfect. It gives me joy every time I look at it. 

What would be the title of your biography? 

I Would Rule the World if I Could Get Off the Couch.

If a genie granted you one wish, what would it be?

A zero-emissions house near the ocean with an air pump, emergency wood stove and solar panels.  

What item have you owned for the longest time?

A cream daybed from Ikea. It travelled with me from my undergrad days, when I could pile all my earthly possessions into a Ford Fiesta, through my master’s and back home to Kitamaat Village. I’ve had many guests on it. I think we’re nearing the end of its days, but I have so many fond memories attached to it, I’ll have to have some ceremony when I finally let it go.  

Whom do you most admire (living or dead) and why?

My grandmother. She had a knack for loving people who didn’t know how to love themselves. She didn’t put up with BS, but she still wrapped her love around you like a warm blanket.  

What would you like your epitaph to say?

Eden Robinson has moved on to her next chapter.

If you could invent something, what would it be?

A way to cheaply and easily remediate mercury spills.

In which era would you most like to have lived, and why?

Whatever era they discover how to shut off Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have PMR and AS, two rare types of RA, and the impact on my life has been profound. I miss my strength and energy.

What are you afraid of?

Dying in a fire. 

What is your latest purchase?

Toasted hazelnuts. I love grinding them up and making them into crusts for gf cheesecakes.

Name the skill or talent you would most like to have.

Anything with my hands! My mother is a seamstress, my aunties weave and crochet, my uncles carve, and they all create wonderful things. All my cedar weavings turn into coasters. 

Which three pieces of music would you take to that desert island?

Oh, that’s like asking what books would I bring. It’s impossible to answer and constantly changes.  

Which famous person (living or dead) do you think (or have you been told) you most resemble? 

Elaine Miles, who played Marilyn Whirlwind on Northern Exposure.  

What is your pet peeve?

People who cut the line.

What is the secret to a good life?

Prioritize love.

Do you have a personal motto?

Do it now before you forget to do it.

What’s the most important thing left on your bucket list? 

I’ve signed up for Haisla language classes. I’m so nervous. My dad spoke five languages and a smattering of other languages. I didn’t inherit his multilingual abilities so it’s my Mount Everest. I’m not expecting to be fluent, but I would like to make it past Kindergarten Haislakala.  

What are your UBC highlights? 

Working on the editorial board of PRISM international. It’s a priceless experience for an author. Arguing passionately about fiction, championing pieces that you love and then editing them gives you so much insight into your own process and aesthetics. You also get to see how the sausage is made, so you’re less likely to take rejection personally.