Laborious Fruits

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.

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