November 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Last night, I put on my oxford heels to read with four poets at the Odourless Press fall launch. With nearly every fiction writer in town at the Writers’ Trust gala, the evening felt like a tiny cushioned drawer, intimate as a library of rare tobaccos. Occasional Emergencies is a 12 poem series of mostly-ekphrastic poems, published in a first edition of 5o copies with Bardia Sinaee‘s Odourless Press. Bardia only gives me one at a time; ridiculous to think that he’s sold out already. If you want a copy, best to pester him at bardia at odourless dot ca. I trust that he’ll do a better job of packaging and mailing out than I could, and at the same time, you can also order the crisp pamphets by Spencer Gordon, Stevie Howell and Jeramy Dodds, and the longish chapbook by Mat Laporte (who runs the chapbook press Ferno House with his compadre Spencer.)
November 4, 2013 § Leave a Comment
My poem, “Gifting Ceremonies” is in the fall issue of Ricepaper Magazine. This is my first appearance in the magazine. It’s a four-part poem about the gifts of cherry trees made from the Japanese government to various cities in North America, and the highly ritualized gift customs of the Japanese. Fiction by Ann Shin, and an essay by Singapore writer Goh Poh Seng are also in the issue.
June 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I don’t admit to myself that I’m busy when each day is a list of tasks. In the waning days of March, our landlady announced our house was being sold, the house I’ve lived in since moving to Toronto five years ago. We’ve since packed up, rented a van, signed a new lease, and settled into a cavernous character house overlooking Riverdale Park, and every day sitting down to my desk in our new share office has never felt onerous.
Still, trying to edit and write while in the midst of moving remains one of the most difficult states of being I’ve encountered. Interruptions occur constantly– house viewings on both ends, additional expenses, reference books and files are taped off in boxes.
Here’s what I managed to get done: I have work in the current issue of CV2, you can here “Mourning Doves” here. I also have two poems forthcoming in Ricepaper Magazine, my first appearance in that publication. A chapbook is in the works for fall release with Bardia Sinaee’s Odourless Press, which for now I’m calling “Occasional Emergencies.” I’m tentatively sending bits of my full-length poetry manuscript to publishers, like throwing pebbles into the well. I can’t even see the ripples they make. I just have to believe there’s water down there.
My next update may be in Europe! I fly next week into London, where I’ll spend a week seeing all the free galleries, free galleries and Queen’s gardens as I can. Then I take a cross-eyed itinerary of trains down to Lisbon to attend the Disquiet Literary Program. I’ve arranged hostel and homestays, but not much else. I have a rover’s attitude to travel– what I’ll get to, I’ll get to. I’ve found I’m much happier seeing half a gallery a day and wandering into a neighbouring park after asking an attendant where to get a good coffee, than checking another item off a list. It’s this way that a city can get acquainted with you.
March 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The sporatic-ness of posts here is counter-balanced by reviews and posts elsewhere. In response to the dismal counts of women’s writing being reviewed, as well as women who review on both VIDA and CWILA, I put aside the diffidence I had towards leaping into the critical fray. This reluctance I now see as historically and socially determined. I believe that an insidious kind of self-censoring is internalized when a woman writer doesn’t see other women being published or reviewed in major publications. They are more likely to unconsciously believe their opinions don’t count, thereby perpetuating a cycle where they either don’t submit, or are reluctant to respond even when invited by editors.
The initiatives I’ve taken are incremental, and I still feel I could be more drastic, more ambitious. My reviews of poetry books by Erin Knight, Susan Steudel and Julie Bruck on the Toronto Review of Books’ blog, Chirograph are brief, but I’m glad of the chance to ekk out a kind of ethics of criticism for myself, an approach that is neither necessarily positive or negative, but is instead strives to be attentive, probing, and, if required, explanatory.
The Puritan‘s staff editor informed me that my review of Matthew Tierney’s Probably Inevitable was the first unsolicited review from a female writer they had ever received. It’s troubling that even younger women writers are reluctant to write criticism, as The Puritan features primarily emerging writers. It was a bold move to publish two very different reviews of Tierney’s book, and on The Puritan’s relaunched blog, Town Crier, I address oft-made generalizations about Creative Writing programs and their graduates. In the Town Crier, myself and other Puritan contributors will be exploring topics related to reviewing, criticism, publishing, and myriad issues not typically covered by Canadian print and online media, such as granting cycles, the process of applying to Creative Writing MA and MFA programs, etc.
I have never found myself amid such a robust scene of young and upcoming writers, whose talents are hardwearing, and whose ideas and opinions regarding writing and the writing life are so divergent and diverting. Poet Bardia Sinaee has just launched Micro Bublé, a site reviewing micropresses, locals Dragnet Magazine, Rusty Toque and Little Fiction continue to deliver strong punches, and the Emerging Writers Reading Series is now more than a year old.
With much of my critical writing pitched to other publications and blogs, the focus of this blog will shift slightly as I’ll soon be adding my editing and manuscript reading services, as well as content relating to networking, freelancing and job searching for writers. Meanwhile I’m also working on nonfiction pieces that may or may not dive into the female flâneur, the immigrant in the city, writing and hockey… mentioning them here seems a good way to commit to their eventual coming-into-being.
January 7, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I recently came across this file of an interview I did with Lynn Pelletier for CBC Radio’s The Link in early summer of 2011, and I don’t think I ever shared it. After completing a program with Diaspora Dialogues where I was matched up with mentor and poet Rishma Dunlop, my work appeared in the TOK 6: Writing the New Toronto anthology and I was contacted by Lynn to speak about my experience in the program.
It was a treat to head down to the CBC headquarters, receive my visitor’s pass, and to walk the labyrinth and storied hallways with the soft-spoken radio producer and to answer her questions. She was pleased that my voice was so even, although I tend to mumble and sound like I’m about 17 years old. The experience was still extremely enjoyable and I hope I have another chance to get lost in the CBC building someday. I’ve shared the interview via Soundcloud, or you can listen to it on the Radio-Canada International page here.
November 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Compared to 2011′s publications, this writing year has felt less news-worthy. From January to April I was feverishly intent on revising my MA thesis, a poetry manuscript, with my mentor, A.F. Moritz. My poems felt gelatinous; I was hurriedly finishing drafts and pushing through revisions, working on several poems at once until I heard the sound of the returning birds in cool green spring dawns. And then, quite suddenly, it was time to hand it in and defend (such an apt word) the thesis, and my mind felt like a piece of flayed rubber.
Reading them over, the poems had the flavour of duress, despite my mentor’s, the program director’s, and my classmates’ repeated assurances that they felt it was a nearly finished manuscript, ready to submit to one of the local poetry presses. I felt differently– wanting to give each poem a final polish, one more pass. Most of the summer was spent in an equally frantic job hunt, as the last installment of my scholarship ebbed out. Volunteer work, too, swamped most of my summer with committee meetings, planning the Hospice Toronto fundraising gala, finalizing layout for echolocation‘s Issue 12, and participating in The Encampment at Luminato. This enjoyable work took me away from the creative exhaustion of the MA thesis, but did little to make me self-sufficient.
Writers early in their career are told so often (or at least I was) of the difficulties of earning a living as a writer, especially in Canada, that perhaps I dismissed this possibility. It’s true, I can’t make a living as a writer all of the time, but I can some of the time. This fall, I received a small TAC Writers Grant, and was longlisted for the 2012 CBC Poetry Prize. As one of 35 entries chosen from over 2,300, I’m thrilled my work is holding its own alongside Governor General’s awards winners and poets with established careers. I’ve begun reviewing for the Toronto Review of Books‘ online blog, Chirograph, and the first poetry submission I’ve sent off for several months, to CV2, was recently accepted: two of my most nature-y nature poems will appear in the Poetry Only issue in Spring 2013.
So as we head into the darkest, most saturated months, I’ll likely continue my patchwork existence of temporary, contract work, of freelance writing and reviewing, of locating grants like dwarves’ treasure, of submitting work, and ultimately, seeking a publisher for Admittances, sending out queries and samples like flashes of morse code into the overcast future days.