Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Heart Beats: Warriors Against Violence

A few years ago, I wrote a song with the ridiculously talented Vancouver musician and community builder Russell Wallace. The song What Shall I Sell? is now available on the benefit CD Heart Beats:Warriors Against Violence. All the proceeds from the CD go to help fund the Warriors Against Violence Society, Family Healing, Violence Prevention, and Youth Services. Email to order your copy.

God of Missed Connections at the Advent Book Blog

Hey, Neat. God of Missed Connections has been recommended not once, but twice (twice!), on the Advent Book Blog.  

See it Recommended by Angela Rawlings.

See it Recommended by Megan Adam.

Better yet, head on up to my neighbourhood bookstore  People's Co-op Bookstore and buy the book. I spotted two copies there a couple of days ago. Thanks for keeping it in stock, PCB.

And thanks to Sean Cranbury and Julie Wilson for keeping the blog up and running. What a cool idea. I made a little recommendation myself. And one more for good measure!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

November/December Report

Okay, I'm checking in to report on my activities this fall. I've been pretty busy, so I haven't been keeping up with this blog as much as I'd like. So, here goes: My last big readings were at Calgary's WordFest and the Vancouver International Writers Festival. Calgary was a lot of fun. We stayed at the Paliser Hotel downtown and performed at the Vertigo theatre, which is attached to the hotel via a network of underground tunnels. I read with Billeh Nickerson, Alexis O'Hara, Chris Demeanor, Hal Niedzviecki, and Roland Pemberton, and a jazz ensemble directed by Mario Allende. It was a pretty fun reading. Hal gave a visual presentation on his book The Peep Diaries, Alexis O'Hara made a lot of great noise, Billeh read from his new book McPoems, Roland Pemberton read with the jazz trio, and Kris Demeanor surprised me with a great short story about a Ukrainian couple recently relocated to Calgary. His reading was a nice segue from my God of Missed Connections. I was also on a Sex-in-Your-Writing panel with Zoe Whittall, Thomas Trofimuk and Barry Callahan in which I spoke too much and too vehemently about, well, sex—and after the readings in Calgary, we were shuttled out to the Banff Centre for a Poetry Bash hosted by Lorna Crozier. It was the best poetry reading I'd seen in a long time. It was particularly delightful to see Karen Solie read—whom I'd never seen read before—and to meet Shani Mootoo who was my date for the evening, a wonderful writer and a truly delightful person to spend time with. Then I was off to read in Vancouver, the highlight of my year, I think. I read at the Poetry Bash at Performance Works on Granville Island with Robert Bringhurst, Xi Chuan, Carol Anne Duffy, Heather McHugh, and Greg Scofield. It was a real honour for me to read there since I've been going to that event for as long as I can remember and I've seen a lot of great poets on that stage. This night was no exception. The other readers were hilarious and strange and erudite and warm. It was thrilling to read with each of them, so much so I didn't quite know what to say, so I didn't say much. I was so nervous before the reading, I thought I'd pass out. I opened the night with a set from God of Missed Connections with the help of a group of Ukrainian folk singers from Vancouver's premier Ukrainian folk chorus, Zeellia. Special thanks to my singing teacher Beverly Dobrinsky for making that happen. Dearly wish someone had recorded us singing. If you did, please let me know. I'd love to post it. I was particularly thrilled to meet Carol Anne Duffy and Heather McHugh, two poets I admire very much and whom I may never meet again. Wow. OK, that's enough for now. Later.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

God of Missed Connections & Curio at the Northern Poetry Review

Click here to read Alessandro Porco's double review of God of Missed Connections and the reprint of Curio: Grotesques and Satires from the Electronic Age at The Northern Poetry Review. It's kind of hard to excerpt, but who could help but pull out this nugget:

"At her best, Bachinsky displays a wild vocabulary and a cheeky wit that other poets of her generation can only hope to attain...But what I most admire is that Bachinsky...seems willing to do, say, or try anything at least once. That exploratory sensibility serves her well both in Curio as well as God of Missed Connections."

Right on. Which reminds me...I'm reading an anthology right now called American Hybrid. The introduction by Cole Swenson is particularly great. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Liz Reads in Vancouver, Oct 24

The Poetry Bash

Saturday, Oct 24, 8:00 pm
Performance Works, Granville Island

Elizabeth Bachinsky
Robert Bringhurst
Xi Chuan
Carol Ann Duffy
Heather McHugh
Gregory Scofield

Host: Clea Young

Always a Festival favourite event, The Poetry Bash brings to Vancouver’s stage this year six poets who are titans in this field. England’s poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy joins Pulitzer Prize nominee Heather McHugh, CanadianRobert Bringhurst, winner of the BC Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence, and China’s Xi Chuan, widely translated and recognized as one of the most dynamic poets living in China today. Rounding out the team is relative newcomer Elizabeth Bachinsky, herself nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry, and Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize winner, Gregory Scofield. This is a formidable line-up, sure to please the ear of word and image lovers everywhere. 

Buy tickets online at 
Vancouver Tix.

Liz Reads in Calgary, Oct 15 & 17

29 - Word of MouthPDFPrintE-mail
Thursday, October 15, 9:30pm
Vertigo Theatre Centre, Studio 

Elizabeth BachinskyKris DemeanorBilleh NickersonHal NiedzvieckiAlexis O'Hara and Roland Pemberton 
An event not to be missed with a lineup that will leave you speechless. Wordsmiths play with music and, as a bit of a surprise, you may find yourself spilling some of your own secrets! Authors are joined by the WordFest house band under the musical direction of Mario Allende.This event is sponsored by CJSW 90.9 FM

Tickets are $20.00, $10.00 for students and seniors – call WordFest at 403.237.9068 for more information.

52 - Afternoon DelightPDFPrintE-mail
Saturday, October 17, 2:30pm
Vertigo Theatre Centre, Studio

Elizabeth BachinskyBarry CallaghanThomas Trofimuk and Zoe Whittall 
These four authors have an honest, in-depth discussion about sex and sexuality and how it ends up in their work. Warning: this event may cause reddening of cheeks and/or hysterical laughter. This event is sponsored by SWERVE Magazine.

Tickets are $15.00, $7.50 for students and seniors – call WordFest at 403.237.9068 for more information.

Sexy News Roundup of the Week

Here, the Calgary Herald prepares you for "Afternoon Delight: Writers Talking about Sex," one of the performances I'll be part of at Calgary's Wordfest this Saturday. Come out and listen to what Yours Truly, Barry Callaghan, Zoe Whitall, and Thomas Trofimuk have got to say about writing sex.

and Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine caught up with me to talk about God of Missed Connections at the Thin Air Festival last month. My favourite quote? "Ukrainians are deadly sexy..." 

The things girls say...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

God of Missed Connections at Prairie Fire

This week God of Missed Connections was reviewed at Prairie Fire magazine.  Here reviewer Gillian Harding-Russell discusses the title poem: 

"Reminiscent of Gwendolyn MacEwen's "Dark Pines Under Water," Bachinsky's poem "God of Missed Connections" employs changing metaphors to reveal her conception of the nature of the mind and unconscious. Unlike MacEwen's poem, which creates an implicit metaphor in the landscape it describes, Bachinsky likens the mind to a alluvial plain with layers of geological markings, only to depart from this ingenious concept and find another analogy in "split obsidium," whose variant smoothness becomes an image for the mind looking back at itself."

I love MacEwen's "Dark Pines Under Water." Incantatory, iconic, chilling—I hadn't considered a debt to MacEwen before now, but it is due. Enjoy.

Dark Pines Under Water
Gwendolyn MacEwen

This land like a mirror turns you inward
And you become a forest in a furtive lake;
The dark pines of your mind reach downward,
You dream in the green of your time,
Your memory is a row of sinking pines.

Explorer, you tell yourself this is not what you came for
Although it is good here, and green;
You had meant to move with a kind of largeness,
You had planned a heavy grace, an anguished dream.

But the dark pines of your mind dip deeper
And you are sinking, sinking, sleeper
In an elementary world;
There is something down there and you want it told.

from The Shadow Maker (1969)

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

God of Missed Connections Nominated for the Kobzar Literary Award!

Holy Crow. God of Missed Connections (Nightwood Editions, 2009) has been nominated for the Shevchenko Foundation's $25,000 Kobzar Literary Award. The Kobzar Award is a biennial award recognizing outstanding contributions to Canadian literary arts through presentation of a Ukrainian Canadian theme with literary merit. I'm thrilled. Please Click here for more information about the award. 

The Other shortlisted titles are:  Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems by Randall Maggs (Brick Books); Redemption and Ritual: The Eastern-Rite Redemptorists of North America, 1906-2006 (Redeemer’s Voice Press); and Zo by Murray Andrew Pura (Windhover Marsh)

Award ceremony will take place on March 4, 2010 in Toronto.

Adjudicators:  Sandra Birdsell, Janice Kulyk Keefer, Kerri Sakamoto, Richard Scrimger

God of Missed Connections Reviewed at the Mansfield Press

Click here for the whole review.

God of Missed Connections

God of Missed Connections

Reviewed by Spencer Gordon

God of Missed Connections
Elizabeth Bachinsky
Nightwoord Editions, 2009 
80 pages, $17.95


“History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” So says Stephen Dedalus, famously, in Joyce’s Ulysses. To the speaker of Elizabeth Bachinsky’s God of Missed Connections, history can indeed be nightmarish — the hard facts of torture and war and famine; the inability to solve or resolve its contradictions and cruelties. But history, both private and collective, can also be drenched in the sunlight of nostalgia — the happy illusion that things were, at some uncertain point in the past, better. So we dwell in old family photos, use our mothers’ handed-down recipes, stoop to smell our fathers’ coats. What else can we do? For Bachinsky, reminiscence is inevitable; “what was lost / returns,” she writes. We ceaselessly dwell and uncover, though that which we unearth can be both beautiful and horrific. As one poem states, “we can neither love [it], nor turn away.”

Friday, September 25, 2009

God of Missed Connections Reviewed in Halifax

George Elliott Clarke has reviewed my new book God of Missed Connections in the Halifax Chronicle Herald. Hells yeah. Click here to read the review.

Winnipeg's Thin Air Festival

Image from Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg

Thanks to Charlene Diehl, festival director at Winnipeg's Thin Air Festival, I got to stay in my dad's hometown, Winnipeg, for a few nights and perform this week. I stayed at the Inn at the Forks where the Assiniboine and Red rivers meet. My hotel room overlooked the Oodena Celebration Circle (wow) and also the Winnipeg Children's Museum, which used to be the main stables for the CNR back in the day when my great grandfather worked there as a janitor. The road outside the hotel is paved with the same stones that were there a hundred years ago. My great grandfather would have walked over those stones every day to get to work. It was pretty weird to sit in the hotel lounge with an interviewer with those stones and stables just outside. It gave me the same creepy feeling as sitting in the great hall at the Banff Springs Hotel. The great hall at the Banff Springs overlooks an old quarry site at Tunnel Mountain where Ukrainian prisoners of war quarried stone during WWI for the reconstruction of the hotel. The prisoners made 25 cents a day; my champagne cocktail cost $16. 

I didn't get to see a lot of the festival authors perform while I was in Winnipeg since the festival wranglers kept me really hopping, but I did get to see the headliners on opening night.  Lauren Kirshner read wonderfully from her first novel Where We Have to Go. She was dry, funny, and nervous as heck, which is always delightful, and I bought her novel straight away at the intermission. Jon Paul Fiorentino killed with a reading from his first novel Stripmalling and made me laugh so hard the author actually heckled me from the stage. Rhea Tregebov, my date, laughed so hard she almost choked on her chewing gum. I thought I'd have to give her the Heimlich. On a very different note, my favorite Maple Ridge boy, Gregory Scofield silenced the house with poems from his kipocihk├ón: Poems New and Selected and Bonnie Burnard made Rhea go for the Kleenex. Burnard read from her new novel Suddenly. I was especially impressed with the way she writes so tenderly and straightforwardly about sex. It was a great reading.

Special thanks to Tavia Palmer who pointed me in the right direction and Michael Van Rooy who got me there. Thanks to you, I was able to chill out often enough to experience  My Winnipeg. It was all over the place.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Come and Do The Geist Poetry Workout with GJ & Liz!

That's right, it's finally time to get your poetry-loving ass totally kicked at a swanky hotel. Thanks to Stuart Ross who inspired me with his awesome poetry bootcamp a couple of years ago, Gillian Jerome and I are leading the Geist Poetry Workout September 19, 1-4pm at the Listel Hotel in Vancouver. We have a great lot of fun, write some awfully good poems, and then Geist gives us all some really nice literary swag to take home. Yeah!  Here's the deets:

The Geist Poetry Workout

A workshop to strengthen your poetic muscles! Poets Elizabeth Bachinskyand Gillian Jerome will put you through your poetic paces in a sweaty, fun-filled three-hour session. Eat a hearty breakfast beforehand because you’re gonna need all the energy you can muster.

Ten exercises. Ten poems. Three hours. Super fun. Wear a sweatband.

(We’re not kidding!)

The Geist Poetry Workout

Saturday, September 19, 2009, 1–4 p.m.
Listel Hotel
1300 Robson St., Vancouver

Workshop: $50 (includes a one-year Geist subscription for yourself or a friend)

Workshop Bundle: Register for two fall workshops for only $75 (this option also includes a one-year Geist subscription).

Register Now Online:

Sign up for one workshop ($50)

Sign up for two workshops in a bundle ($75)

For more information, call Geist at (604) 681-9161 or e-mail

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Return from Down Under

Hey there. How ya goin'? I'm back from Brisbane and reeling from the beauty and the poetry of Queensland. What a beautiful place! What beautiful people! The Queensland Poetry Festival was a blast. I am particularly in love with the poetry I caught by Aussies Jessica Tong, Paul Magee and Jane Williams, all of whom gave wonderful readings at the festival. UK poet A.F Harrold had us all in stitches (I especially enjoyed his tribute to Leonard Cohen) and beloved Australian folksinger/poet Neil Murray kept everyone in thrall with his perfect voice and  lyrics; Arts Queensland's poet in Residence, New Zealander Hinemoana Baker, opened the festival with a set complete with bull-roarer and delay pedal (think Laurie Anderson meets Jane Siberry meets John Giorno); and Santo Cazzati blew everyone away with a perfect, ingenious, continuous, beautifully rhythmic, twenty minute set that included his own (invented) commercial breaks. Why oh WHY doesn't he have a website or a CD or a clip on youtube? I was also totally charmed by self-proclaimed tough guy Geoff Goodfellow, who also happens to be Australia's best-selling poet of all time (imagine an Aussie Bukowski, and you'll be on the right track). Goodfellow's poems about his battle with throat cancer were down-to-earth straightforward cautionary tales that can, and do, travel everywhere.

So, I came home with a stack of books that nearly broke my back with all the shlepping from plane to plane, but I'm thrilled to have seen and taken home a little bit of Queensland. I miss it already. And to the sweet boys at the Deli New Farm  in Brisbane who told me to go to Noosa after the festival, I went to Noosa. And Peregian. And Coolum. My first sub-tropical beaches, ever. So, there's a beach girl in me after all. Who knew? I loved every minute of lying on the sand and leaping in the sea. hee. Special HUGE thanks to the amazing Julie Beveridge and Graham Nunn who were the kind of warm, hospitable hosts every performer dreams of. They totally rocked the party

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Liz in OZ

Calling all Australians. I'm reading at the Queensland Poetry Festival at the Judith Wright Center for the Performing Arts in Fortitude Valley August 21-23. Click here for details. 

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Northern Exposure in the M-K

Well, I'm back from (and changed by) the remarkable Muskwa-Kechika Artist Camp in Northern British Columbia where I hiked and rode and camped with nine other artists to raise awareness about this unique wild place. The Muskwa Kechika Management Area is the largest untouched boreal forest in North America and is under threat of exploitation by big oil and gas companies. Artists of all disciplines are encouraged to attend the camp. The catch? Once you're out, you've got to create work that focusses on some aspect of the M-K. No problem.

Some notable alum include poets Sue Sinclair, Tim Lilburn, and Don McKay; naturalist Ben Gadd; travel writer and activist Shirley Roburn; and visual artist Brian Jungen. Special huge thanks to Donna Kane and Wayne Sawchuk who brought me out for the camp. And to all of you who were there, don't be strangers.

Want to see me at 6400 ft? Click here.

Want to go and see the M-K for yourself? Download the application form here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Curio Reviewed at the Globe and Mail

The 2nd Edition of Curio: Grotesques and Satires from the Electronic Age got a glowing review in the Globe and Mail last week. The edition was redesigned and rereleased by Bookthug, Spring, 2009. In addition to a snazzy new cover and some significant rewrites, this edition includes an afterward by delightful avant garde poet K. Silem Mohammad from Ashland Oregon. 

For the love of poetry, click here to buy the book. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Poetry and Perogies at the Vancouver Courier

Wow, what a pic. Shawn Conner and photographer Rebecca Blissett at the Vancouver Courier caught up with me last week for Ten Questions. Read on to find out more about my bingo-playing Baba, what to eat on a road trip through the prairies, and what I did on Canada Day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

God of Missed Connections at Agora Review

Thanks to Aaron Tucker at Agora Review who just put up a very nice-looking interview I did with Rob Mclennen after a short trip to Ottawa to help launch How the Light Gets In, an anthology of Canadian Poetry that was just released in Ireland. Here's a snippet from the interview,"

"I wanted to write the book I couldn’t find. When I began this project I found it fascinating how many (hundreds!) of academic texts, memoirs, interviews, short stories, poems, documentary films, videos, paintings, collages, sculptures, websites, blogs, etc. are dedicated to the history of Ukraine and of Ukrainians in Canada—yet very few of these resources are produced by Ukrainian-Canadian authors of my generation. And almost none of these are creative works."

Thanks, Aaron. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shout Out to the Students at CCVS

This week, students from Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School in Cornwall, ON, contacted me to ask some questions about the business of writing (a special shout out to Elizabeth, Kayla, and Kasey). Here's what they asked:

1) What was the level of education you needed in order to pursue your writing career?

You don't *need* any higher education to be a writer, but it helps. I have a BA in English & Creative Writing and an MFA in Creative Writing. I went to a community college (Douglas College) for the first two years of my BA and transferred to the University of British Columbia for the rest of my education. I worked part time in a coffee shop while I was in school and went to school part time. It was kind of hard at the time, but it was worth it.

 2) What job opportunities did you have for options, and how did you apply?

After I finished my MFA, I was a writer in residence in my hometown, Maple Ridge, BC, for two years. That gave me time to finish my first two books and find publishers. Then I moved to Vancouver and got a job in a bookstore. But I always made sure to have some sort of teaching work while I was doing these jobs, so I was always building up my teaching experience and my resume. I taught creative writing at the Arts Centre in Maple Ridge while I was Writer in Residence and then later at Vancouver Film School and Douglas College. I teach almost full time at Douglas College now and will teach a workshop at the Sage Hill Writing Experience next summer as well. I teach classes as they arise. I also edit for Event magazine and do a bit of freelance writing for magazines and websites. And I perform all over the place, which also pays a bit and lets me travel, which I love to do.

So, are there opportunities? Yes. But I wouldn't have heard about them if I didn't go to school and then keep my eyes and ears open. When you are (or want to be) a professional creative person it is important to be involved in your community. That's how readers (and employers) find you. Taking part in literary activities in your town or province or country can be really important. Volunteer at your local or provincial arts festival. Do internships. Take classes at colleges and universities. Go to the Banff Centre for the Arts or Film School or wherever. But most of all just keep reading and writing. *Everything* starts with your writing.

3) How does one end up getting published?

You start by writing and reading. Get good at that, and then start thinking about publishing. Enjoy the time you have as a young writer where your work is really yours. Read, write, share what you've written with writer friends you trust. Don't have any of those? Find them. Take writing classes. Read at open mics. Make chapbooks. Get obsessed. Eventually, you'll have an overwhelming need to share your work with a larger audience and, by then, because you've worked so hard, you might have written something that's actually worth printing! 

After that, here’s the formula: most, if not all, writers get their start in literary magazines. So start there. Submit to literary magazines and start building a portfolio. Collect your rejection slips like badges of honour. Eventually you'll have a big stack of rejections, a little list of publications, and something that's starting to resemble a manuscript. Put together the manuscript and send it out to publishers. Celebrate more rejection. Keep writing. Keep reading. Then just wait.  In the waiting time, write another book...and then another. Publishing is a *lot* about waiting and being patient. It's real crazy-making stuff.

 4) Are there any challenges you came across throughout your career?

Too many to mention all of them. But probably my biggest challenge is time management. It's hard for me to decide what's important and what's not sometimes. I get totally smashed by emails, for example, and can't imagine how to answer everything and everyone. It's overwhelming. 

 5) What is one of your biggest satisfactions through writing?

I love it when someone from really far away finds my work and then takes the time to write me and tell me what they thought of it. That's amazing. I also love to travel. This summer I'm going travel to, and write about, the Muskwa Kechika, one of the last untouched boreal forests in North America. It's way up north and we get to fly in by floatplane, ride packhorses into the bush, and camp out for a week or so. The deal is I get to write and raise awareness about wild places. How amazing is that? And later this summer, I'll read at the Queensland Poetry Festival in Australia. Australia! I've never been there and I can't wait to go and meet Australian poets. It's going to rock. That's the other thing, when you are a writer; you get to meet other writers. You realise pretty quick that you are part of a rather big community of like-minded people. Of course everyone has different opinions and thoughts and experiences, but you are all connected through this thing you feel impelled to do: writing. It's humbling and enlightening and you get to learn a lot about people. I love what I do.

Take care and keep writing,



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

God of Missed Connections at Canadian Literature

Evgenia Todorova at Canadian Literature kindly spent some time with me to talk about God of Missed Connections (and other stuff too). The interview is now up at their website. Here's a snippet.

"The politicizing of work tells me a lot about readers.... Writing is a funny thing; it doesn't really exist until it is out in the air, until other people have something to say about it. So many books just disappear. Maybe this book it will disappear too, I don't know. I guess I'm interested in that kind of stuff. So is this a political book? Maybe. (Laughter) I'll put it as a maybe."