Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The Poetry Bash
Saturday, Oct 24, 8:00 pm
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.
29 - Word of Mouth Thursday, October 15, 9:30pm
Vertigo Theatre Centre, Studio
Elizabeth Bachinsky, Kris Demeanor, Billeh Nickerson, Hal Niedzviecki, Alexis 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 Delight Saturday, October 17, 2:30pm
Vertigo Theatre Centre, Studio
Elizabeth Bachinsky, Barry Callaghan, Thomas 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.
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.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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 by Spencer Gordon
God of Missed Connections
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
Thursday, September 3, 2009
The Geist Poetry Workout
Saturday, August 29, 2009
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.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
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
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
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.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
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,