After several years of piecemeal existence in Toronto, I’ve a rough grasp of how the year of a writer’s work cycles through the seasons. It’s less like the migratory arc of a Canada goose and more like a crocus bulb that sits cold and incubating nearly half the year. Similarly, in the winter months after the holidays, I hole up in my giant fisherman sweaters and corresponding fish stews, and stew over new work. In spring, writers flower forth in bars and bookstores to celebrate their offerings. Summer is another fecund time, though now reading, revising, meditating and drinking can be done out of doors, and if you’re fortunate enough, to go away on a retreat or residency. It’s the time of year I try to earn a much income as possible, writing grants and teaching the influx of international ESL students that alight in our cities. Fall becomes a kind of long writers’ reunion party with festivals and events, after that the hiatus of family and the new year.
Midway through January of this year, I found myself out of work, but a fortuitous combination of severance pay, accumulated vacation pay and a small grant meant that I could spend a few months writing (while still doing a few odd jobs.) I haven’t been able to have a long stretch to produce new work since starting my TESL training last February, and was pretty abashed at how immediately I devolved into rolling out of bed at eleven and falling asleep at 4am amidst printouts and empty, chili-ringed cup noodles. I worsened my prescription reading A.V. Club, Slate, Hitfix and Vulture TV reviews and took to leaving bottles of water around the apartment to remind myself to stay hydrated. I had done it all before, and I will probably do it again. Because in the end, I’m overjoyed to be able to brag about:
- Editing my first The Puritan supplement on the theme of legacies and inheritances. I have been so happy to meet and work with the writers on their pieces, and in many cases emails and pitches turned into Skype meetings and coffee dates. Poets, fiction writers, a graphic essay, two interviews, a play/family story excerpt and a critical essay on transgendered literature are just some of the things to look forward when The Puritan goes live in May. I’m also in the beginning stages of planning an evening to celebrate the contributions of the writers, editors and staff.
- With the help of the fantastic Andrew Faulkner and Leigh Nash, I have finished the draft of a new chapbook MS currently titled “Permanent Exhibits.” It’s another batch of ekphrastic poems, this time about my mother who has been a watercolour painter almost all her life. Through the course of writing these poems, I discovered she’d met with many overseas Hong Kong artists as well as local Ottawa artists, collecting their books and catalogues, as well as a few pieces. The chapbook is appearing with the reinstated Emergency Response Unit Press, and will be launched with a joint party with Desert Pets Press in mid-May. A broadside will be available on April 28th, at the Invisible Press launch, alongside Andrew Forbes and Brent van Staalduinen.
- My debut poetry collection, Admission Requirements has been accepted for publication for Spring 2017. That is all I’m going to say for now.
- I watched all of season one of Outlander and read the first five of the novels too. It’s been a long winter.
So tell me, what have you been working on?