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All About Meet & Greets
Andrea McKenzie Raine
Check it Out!
Valerie B-Taylor Young Writers Awards
Teaching Young Writers
Naomi Beth Wakan
Thoughts on Editing Poetry
The Language in which you Choose to Write
Interviewing Susan Tiberghien
23 Essential Elements of a Best Selling Thriller
8 New Books—Submit Yours!
LAUNCHED! New Titles by FBCW Members
WORDWORKS IS PROVIDED FREE, QUARTERLY, TO MEMBERS OF THE FEDERATION OF BC WRITERS AND IS AVAILABLE ON OUR WEB PAGE, AND IN SELECT BRITISH COLUMBIA PUBLIC LIBRARIES. TO JOIN THE FBCW, GO TO BCWRITERS.CA
Page 1 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Fall 2016
FROM THE EDITOR
Publication of The Federation of British Columbia Writers 2014 Bowen Rd, Nanaimo, BC, V9S 1H4 bcwriters.ca
Shaleeta Harper firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial Board bcwriters.ca/WordWorks/editorialboard
his fall, as sleeves and full length pants emerge from our closets, we’re discussing genre—playing within the bounds, and stretching into new ones. We couldn’t cover every genre this issue, but I hope you’ll enjoy reading the articles our diligent members have prepared. We also brought back a beloved feature of WordWorks, which was unused for nearly a decade: “Launched!”. This section features newly published books by FBCW members. Every member is welcome to submit new publications to us for this section—ebooks, self-published books, and traditionally published books are all welcome. If you’re a screenplay writer, journalist, or you work in another format that rarely lends itself to book publishing, and you have new work, contact me—we’ll find a creative way to feature you as well. I also would like to state that we are always looking for quality writing at WordWorks—both for the magazine, and for our blog. Whether you have an idea, or you just want to write, there’s something for you here. Next issue, we’re talking about writing for healing. Writing for healing has a wide scope, as many members have already told us. It isn’t always journal writing, and it’s often of high quality—sometimes the healing process will lead to a novel, or a play. Sometimes, though, it is just healing, and that’s okay, too. Send us your essays, opinion pieces, creative nonfiction, or any other type of writing under 2000 words that fits our theme (no matter how loosely). I look forward to hearing from you.
Cover Artist Chris Doman
www.chrisdoman.com Business Manager Thomas Baxter TomBaxter@bcwriters.ca © The Federation of British Co-
lumbia Writers 2016 All Rights Reserved Submissions
Content of WordWorks Magazine is, with very occasional exceptions, provided by members of the Federation of BC Writers. If you would like to submit something, or if you have a story idea you would like to see included in WordWorks, please visit bcwriters.ca/WordWorks/submit
WordWorks is pleased to advertise services and products that are of genuine interest to writers. Space may also be provided to honour sponsors, whose generous contributions make it possible for the Federation of BC Writers to provide services to writers in BC. For information about advertising policies and rates, see bcwriters.ca/WordWorks/ advertisers
Editorial decisions are guided by the mandate of WordWorks as "BC’s Magazine for Writers", and its role as the official publication of the Federation of BC Writers. WordWorks will showcase the writing and poetry of FBCW members'; provide news and feature coverage of writing and writers in BC with an emphasis on writing techniques and the business of writing; carry news about the Federation of BC Writers, and its work supporting and advocating for writers.
Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 2
CONTRIBUTORS Naomi Beth Wakan
Naomi Beth Wakan is a poet and personal essayist. She has published more than fifty books, including her latest book of essays, On the Arts and her recent book of poetry, Bent Arm for a Pillow. She is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Nanaimo and the inaugural Honorary Ambassador for the Federation of BC Writers. She lives on Gabriola Island, with her husband, the sculptor, Elias Wakan. www.naomiwakan.com
Terence Young teaches English and creative writing at St. Michaels University School in Victoria, B.C., and is also the author of several books of fiction and poetry. www.terenceyoung.ca
Victoria’s Julie Paul is the author of two short fiction collections. Her second, The Pull of the Moon (B & G), received both an IPPY award and the 2015 Victoria Butler Book Prize. Her first poetry collection, The Rules of the Kingdom, is forthcoming in 2017 with McGill-Queen's University Press, and she is the 2016 winner of TNQ’s Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest.
Katrin Horowitz is one of the FBCWs Area Reps in Victoria. She is the author, most recently, of The Best Soldier’s Wife, a novel about Canada’s war in Afghanistan.
Marie-Claude Arnott is a bilingual writer born in France. She holds a B.A. in International Studies and studied with the London School of Journalism. Her travel articles appear in print publications and at buckettriper.com, an award-winning website. She writes short stories, and is at work on a memoir about friendship in the face of terminal illness. She lives in Vancouver.
Yvonne Blomer is Victoria, B.C.’s Poet Laureate. Her most recent collection of poems is As if a Raven (Palimpsest Press, 2014). Her first collection, a broken mirror, fallen leaf was short listed for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. In 2017 her travel memoir Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur will be released. Yvonne graduated with distinction, receiving an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, UK.
Jodie Renner is a sought-after fiction editor and award-winning author of 3 writing guides, Captivate Your Readers, Fire up Your Fiction, and Writing a Killer Thriller. Jodie has compiled 2 anthologies for charity, including Voices from the Valleys – Stories & Poems about Life in BC’s Interior. JodieRenner.com; JodieRennerEditing. com. Blog: http://jodierennerediting.blogspot. com. Jodie started the Facebook page, BC Writers, Authors, & Editors. Please join us there!
Lucía Terra is a bilingual writer and editor based in Vancouver. She writes non-fiction articles on cultural, environmental and social justice issues and is currently working on a memoir as part of the SFU Writer’s Studio.
Andrea McKenzie Raine
Andrea McKenzie Raine resides in Victoria, with her husband and two sons. She earned a B.A. in English Literature at the University of Victoria, and is the author of a poetry book titled A Mother’s String and two novels titled Turnstiles, and A Crowded Heart.
COVER ARTIST: Chris Doman
Chris Doman was born in Anglesea, North Wales and studied fine art at Hornsey College of Art, University of Victoria and Instituto Allende. Chris's prints evolve from glasswork. He uses fragments of glass to form a whole by fusing them together in a kiln. Using the printmaking process, images are cut out and glued down on a relief block to form the printing surface. This method enables Chris to work in a "series," as one or more fragments can be used in multiple prints giving continuity to the creative journey. Recently Chris has re-discovered oil paint and will show new paintings in a joint show with Pamela Holl Hunt at the Rollin Art Centre in Port Alberni November 2016.
Page 3 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Fall 2016
THE PRESIDENT’S PEN ANN GRAHAM WALKER
s I write this, we are planning the upcoming FBCW writing contests that many of you look forward to every year. We receive wonderful submissions. Did you enjoy the successful Literary Writes submissions in our recent Summer 2016 issue? Christine Lowther's winning non-fiction entry, Marilyn Holman's story written for children, Marlene Grand-Maitre's winning poem and Bridget Canning's short story. Now, in this issue, you get to read work by our gifted young prizewinners in the Valerie B-Taylor Young Writer Awards. In the 18 and under category, Aubry Williams's first prize-winning poem, Victoria Veira's first prize short story, Teghan Acres first prize creative non fiction submission, and in the 19-29 age group, Jill Talbot's prize winning creative non fiction submission. (Sadly, we did not have sufficient entries in the 19-29 fiction or poetry categories to award a prize). We want to send out huge congratulations to these writers for their outstanding work. Even more important, we want to thank the hundreds of writers who submitted, entrusted us with their work and made our contests meaningful and worthwhile. Please watch WriteOn, our social media and our web page for details on our new series of contests, coming soon, and please send us your work. 2017 is the 150th anniversary of Canada's confederation, so we are going to be entertaining a Canada 150 theme and inviting you to write about a day in your community 150 years ago. Or, if you'd rather, a day 150 years from now. Writers have a very important role to play in defining Canada's legacy and pinpointing what it is about us that is worth documenting on the written page. We hope to get many points of view, the more diverse Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 4
the better. Enjoy the fall, dear writers. I hope you are enjoying your FBCW membership. We love getting your feedback on things we are doing well, or things we could be doing better in our service to BC writers. One thing we know we could be doing better is to have an FBCW representative working closely with you and listening to your concerns in every region of the province. We need regional representatives right now in
the northern region, the interior and the southeast. Might that be you? Don't be shy about offering. If you're curious, just write to me for more information. Warm regards, Ann Ann Graham Walker, President Federation of British Columbia Writers email@example.com
ALL ABOUT MEET & GREETS
(IN CASE YOU NEED MORE REASONS TO SHOW UP) KATRIN HOROWITZ
onnecting. It’s a word I love because it defines the reason I write. Whether the goal is to create stories or poems, whether one aims for compelling, exciting, quirky, fresh, edgy or intensely personal writing, we are motivated to some degree by the thought that other people will read our words and be moved—to laughter, to tears, to a new way of being in the world, at least for a moment. And if those readers share our words with a friend, if they tell them "You must read this!"—well, that’s heady praise indeed, and a satisfying reward for the hard work that went into our writing. A much easier way to connect—and a delightful respite from actual writing—is to go to a meet & greet. What you’ll find there depends on what you are looking for, but it will definitely include other writers and all kinds of conversations about writing. I reconnected with a few writers who came to our July meet & greet in Victoria to find out what brought them out to the James Joyce Bistro on a Friday evening— and what kept many of them there for an extra hour after the official end of the party. Liz Walker, a Victoria writer and meet & greet organizer, wrote me: “I think what I like best is the atmosphere that's fun and friendly. The group is helpful as well. If you have a question about how much editors charge for a manuscript review, or even something more general, like how do you fit in writing given all of life's ongoing demands, other writers have ideas and experience to offer. At the last gathering, I met a writer who's also a publisher and who's accepting submissions for an anthology that
fits with my writing. So the events are very social, but they are also chances to hear about opportunities or information that can help your writing.” It was the opportunity for writerly discussions that kept Joy Huebert (author of My Brother’s Basement, a new collection of short stories coming out this fall) at the pub. “Friendly interesting people discussed issues dear to my heart: split infinitives are now okay? You’ve got to be kidding! "They" can now be used as a singular pronoun along with "he" and "she?" Really? Or that topic only writers seem passionate about: the abhorrent misuse of apostrophes. I enjoyed being part of a crowd of people with similar obsessions. Meet & greets are a good way to find new ideas for selling and marketing, and to connect with people who may help your writing career.” Another meet & greet organizer, self-described opsimath Michael McGovern, was on his way to the Okanagan for “peaches ’n’ fun” so he kept his response “ridiculously skinny.” What he likes best, he wrote, is that they’re “informal, relaxed, welcoming, no presentations, nice venue, central location, conversations silly and otherwise.” Jack Stewart, who was likely at the epicentre of one of Mike’s silly conversations, had his own take on the proceedings. “There were far fewer fights than most writer gatherings when booze is involved . . . The number of memoirists in attendance was somewhat unsettling—should there be designated seating sections for the different factions?—because we all know that the
other group has a reputation for stealing sips from unattended pints.” Jack has written two books, Odd Ball and The Newpigin Chronicles, both of them seriously funny, so his words should be taken with a grain of salt—or a cold beer. So there you have it: interesting friends, old and new; advice and gossip; writing opportunities and publishing possibilities; ideas and dialogues; conversations and laughs; nachos and beer (or whatever you want, even though it isn’t Alice’s Restaurant). I’ll give the final word to a friend, Verna Linney, who is in transition from visual arts to creative writing, who was a little nervous about not knowing any other people at our meet & greet, but who came anyhow. She told me that she had a far better time than she thought she would. “I loved the chance to experience something of the richness of other writers approaches to their work and to life in general—such welcome mental stimulation—I’m already looking forward to the next one.” Meet & greets, an FBCW initiative spearheaded by our president, Ann Graham-Walker, have to be one of the best ways to connect with other writers right in your own area. In Victoria, our meet & greets are a collaborative effort with the Victoria Writers Society and Canadian Authors—Victoria. Please join us for our next meet & greet on Friday, October 14, from 5 to 7 pm at the James Joyce Bistro. Or if you live elsewhere, I encourage you to connect with other local writers by starting a meet & greet of your own. Page 5 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Fall 2016
CHANGING GENRES YVONNE BLOMER
n the spring of 2017 my travel memoir Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur will be released. On the surface, I’m making a major shift from poetry to creative nonfiction (CNF), memoir. I have published three books of poetry, most recently As if a Raven, two chapbooks, and edited an anthology. Heck, I’m the city of Victoria’s Poet Laureate, so it definitely looks like I am switching genres here. The truth is, I’ve been writing, teaching and working in both for a while. Please indulge me while I give a bit of personal backstory. From 1997-1999 I lived in Japan and then for three months cycled in Southeast Asia. While in Japan, I wrote poetry and began to send work out and to call myself, even if mostly in my head, a writer. I wanted to write. Specifically, I wanted to write a book of poems about my experiences living in Japan. When I returned home, I continued to work on the poems and I started expanding the journal I kept during a three month cycling trip in Southeast Asia. Poetry and memoir were working simultaneously in me, but my heart was pulled by one more than the other. At that time, I also began to write a weekly column on cycling for the Times Colonist newspaper, called Spoke ‘n’ Word. I also returned to the University of Victoria (Uvic) to study writing, taking poetry and CNF courses concurrently. Before finishing a degree at Uvic, I left to go to grad school in the UK and focus on poetry while sitting in on courses in biography (what CNF is to the Brits). I’ve never questioned the pull of poetry for the Japan experiences yet the push of memoir for the cycling. For Japan I wanted to explore the metaphors of such large experiences in so small a country while for Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 6
the cycling I wanted to expand the condensed experience of cycling into something intense and narrative. Over time I have woven narrative and reflection into perhaps a cross-genre travel memoir. In fact, over the years, I have come to believe that poetry and CNF are the most closely tied of the written arts. I think poetry is a condensed personal essay, with a thesis which is rendered through metaphor. In Slice Me Some Truth (Wolsak and Wynn, 2011) edited by Luanne Armstrong and Zoe Landale, slim divisions are created between forms of CNF and for me between CNF and poetry. The three genres most like poetry are personal essay, memoir and lyric prose. Lyric prose is the closest, a long, expansive, prose poem. Memoir is defined in Slice Me Some Truth as “a piece of an autobiography that highlights a specific time in the narrator’s past.” All I need do is look at Steven Price’s “Jarred Pears under Dust” from Omen in the Year of the Ox to see in that poem a narrator, and a specific time captured in the metaphor of jarred pears, “In any jar an inner autumn/ rises: calved pears float/ pure, float white; and a boy’s/ bruised hand pours out/ light. We walk a heavy/ orchard all our days/ to watch such white fruit fade.” Does it matter that the narrator may not be the poet himself? To the poem, it does not. Therein lies the most significant dif-
ference: CNF is tied to veracity and the authenticity of the narrator while poetry’s narrator can shift. So, when it comes down to it, the “I” in my memoir Sugar Ride, who is clumsy when her tire goes flat and she has to pump it in the rain or worse, has Type 1 diabetes and is out of the closet about it, that “I” is me. The final CNF form I liken to poetry is the personal essay, which according to Armstrong and Landale, “has a strong narrative voices on a topic the writer deeply cares about…a memoir crossed with an idea…The writer generally keeps going back to that idea, looking at it and evaluating it from different angles, to see if they understand it more than before.” Why that sounds exactly like a poem, say “The Moose” by Elizabeth Bishop or “13 Ways of Seeing a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens or my entire collection As if a Raven. I feel, despite the difference in narrator, the similarities between poetry and CNF are strong, and so for me the transition from one to the other has been, for the most part, natural. In fact, it was when I stopped trying to separate the two genres and let myself write whatever I wanted that Sugar Ride began to coalesce into the travel memoir and the meditation on that travel that it will be as a published book—a kind of hybrid of poetry and travel writing, its narrator wholly and shakily me.
GENRE HOPPING JULIE PAUL
haven't always been a switch-hitter when it comes to genre. I began with poetry in my teens (although I never called myself a poet) and wrote only poems until I was in my mid-twenties, getting a few poems published here and there. Then, I began to try my hand at some very short stories, when I felt the urge to go off into more made-up territory. Tobias Wolff has this to say: “I believe that the short story is as different a form from the novel as poetry is, and the best stories seem to me to be perhaps closer in spirit to poetry than to novels.” There’s an economy of language in both poetry and short fiction, and both can relay ideas, and offer questions, and tell a tale. But when I began writing stories, I felt compelled to explore human nature and imagination on a bigger scale; to attempt to do what my literary heroes such as Alice Munro and Mavis Gallant did—create whole worlds within a few pages and then play within those worlds. There is something deeply satisfying about puzzling out the intricacies of relationship, personal histories, impulses and their subsequent consequences via made-up people. What a freedom! I’ve always loved the analogy of a short
story being akin to a look into one window of a massive house. Which house? I ask my writing students. Which window, and why? I’ve published two collections of stories, and I love the opportunity to peek into all these different pretend houses and report back via scene, dialogue and narration. My first poetry collection, The Rules of the Kingdom, is forthcoming in Spring 2017, and I’ve been writing creative nonfiction pieces lately, too (an essay of mine just won The New Quarterly’s Edna Staebler Award), so I’ve been switching it up again. For me, shifting to poetry and creative non-fiction (CNF) has been a move towards intimacy. To continue the house analogy, the house is no longer a fabricated one—it’s my life; and the window, one small aspect of me. Vulnerability increases a hundred fold. Often, with poetry and CNF, I have an itchy feeling that needs to be expressed, whereas with fiction, I often begin with either a character who springs to mind or a situation to explore. But sometimes they all simply begin with jotted-down observations, or from freewriting, during my daily writing practice. Observation: with all genres, that’s what fuels them most. I can hide myself in fiction,
but in poetry and CNF, I’m most often both the observer and the observed. And fixations, too, play their part: I have a thing for writing about pioneers, so lately that’s been coming out in both poems and CNF. I leap from genre to genre and each informs the others. Writing poetry strengthens my figurative language muscles for both fiction and CNF. Writing fiction allows my poetic lens to widen, allows first drafts of poems to be looser and ramble so I can later hone and trim and sometimes cut ruthlessly. Writing fiction has given me narrative confidence; poetry, a tendency to think in images; both encourage me to try less traditional CNF forms. And that’s what I love about CNF—the sense of freedom in it, the space to delve into matters of the heart that just won’t fit into stanzas or don’t want to be disguised by the mask of characters. Switching keeps it fun, too, and that’s really what it’s all about for me—playing around. For me, a neophile, someone who lives for change, it works. Writing in all three genres keeps me excited, and hopefully that freshness makes it onto the pages of my work. Oh, yeah, I better make that four genres. I’m writing a novel…
Page 7 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Fall 2016
CHECK IT OUT!
The Emerging Local Authors Collection at the Greater Victoria Public Library
ANDREA MCKENZIE RAINE
hen I self-published my first novel, the most frequent question that friends, family, and other prospective readers asked me was whether or not my book was available in the library. When I found out that the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) was organizing an Emerging Local Authors collection, I was elated and submitted my book for consideration. I was also impressed that the GVPL recognized two things: 1) the volume of authors and collective literary talent in Victoria’s community; and 2) the need to provide more exposure for local authors. “Several years ago, Greater Victoria Public Library staff recognized the nature of publishing was changing. Authors were choosing to publish books with small, independent publishers, and they were also self-publishing. Given Victoria’s large writing community, GVPL wanted to celebrate the work of local writers and help put their books into the hands of readers,” said Rina Hadziev, the collection and technical services coordinator at GVPL. “A few years before GVPL launched the Emerging Local Authors Collection, and we launched a Local Music Collection, which was well received by the public. The Emerging Local Authors Collection was a way to do something similar for local authors: promote their work in a showcase that highlights the creativity of our community of writers, illustrators and publishers.” GVPL was keen to embrace this project, as it fits with the library’s goals to celebrate the unique talents of the community and offer learning opportunities that support creativity and self-expression. Each year, any author who meets the criteria is accepted into the Emerging Local Author Collection. The books are made available through GVPL for one year, and the criteria are the following: The author must be local; that is, they must reside on Southern Vancouver Island, approximately south of the Malahat, from Port Renfrew to North Saanich. The book must be published during the previous five years and written in either English or French. If it is a physical book, it must be professionally bound so that it can withstand the rigors of public library circulation. If it is an ebook, it must be available in either EPUB or PDF formats. If it is an ebook, the author must own all digital rights and grant GVPL permission for perpetual use on any platform. The book must not contravene Canadian legislation. The author must donate a copy of the book to GVPL. The book remains the property of GVPL. When asked how long it took to set up this collection at the GVPL Central branch, Hadziev replied, “It took approximately one year to develop the Emerging Local Authors Collection. We established the eligibility criteria and worked through the steps to acquire Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 8
and process the material. Then, we wanted to ensure the collection would be found by the public. We decided to display the books in a special area of the Central Branch. This way, our patrons are drawn to the display, and they can easily browse to find something they’re interested in.” Since the initial Emerging Local Authors collection was announced in 2015, a swarm of local authors have come out of the woodwork with their published books in hand, hoping to participate in this wonderful endeavor. “It’s touching to see how happy the authors are with the collection. They are excited, honoured and grateful. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Authors stop by the library to take pictures with their books; they post on social media, telling friends and family their book is available in the library. It’s wonderful to see their pride and sense of accomplishment,” said Hadziev. “The books are circulating very well. We’ve taken steps to ensure that the collection is well promoted and is poised to attract the attention of readers. To support the authors, we’ve done online promotion on our website and social media; we’ve labelled the books with a sticker that sets them apart from other books; and we’ve given the books a prominent place in the Central Branch to encourage browsing. Local media outlets have also covered the collection, drawing new readers to the library and highlighting the talents of local writers.” She also commented that “anecdotally, our patrons have told us they are proud that GVPL showcases Victoria’s local creative community and makes collections such as this one available. The books are being checked out and put on hold; they are being enjoyed by the community.” The Emerging Local Authors Collection is a unique program that GVPL offers throughout its system of 11 branches. “Other library systems in BC and Canada have shown an interest in the model and have been impressed with our results. We have shared information about how we established the collection and our experience putting it on. We hope other library systems will pick up the model and offer this opportunity to authors in their service areas,” said Hadziev. This October, GVPL will once again reach out to Victoria’s local writers to submit their works for inclusion in the 2017 collection. The GVPL website will also provide information on how authors can apply to have their material included in the next Emerging Local Authors Collection, to be unveiled in the spring of 2017. Information can be found at gvpl.ca/emerging-local-authors.
THE FEDERATION OF BC WRITERS PRESENTS THE WINNERS OF THE 2015
TAYLOR BYOUNG WRITERS AWARDS
18 & UNDER
P oet ry: Aub ry Wi l l iams“ On T he Ro o f” Fi cti on :V ic tori a Vieira“Fo re st G ame s” Non - Fi c tion :T eg han Acres “T ime He als All Wo unds ”
N on -F i cti o n : J i l l T al bot “Mirro rs” Poe t ry a n d F ic tion pri ze s were no t awarded due to a la ck of su b mi ssions. Page 9 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Fall 2016
MIRRORS JILL TALBOT
The scraping subject ruled by fear Told me whiskey works better than beer —Elliott Smith
hat can I say? Sometimes you gotta take a crap,” I hear the guy in front of me tell the nurse in the med line up. There has been a seizure and the popo came for a girl who tried to barricade herself in the bathroom. Detox is technically called Withdrawal Management now. More official, political, sanitized. But everyone here just knows it as detox. Sweating, puking, shaking, aching, shitting, detox. I have been here too many times; the staff remember me as soon as I walk in the door. I fell asleep with nicotine gum again, woke up with it stuck in my hair and throat. I’ve got Froot Loops in my housecoat pockets, contraband saved for a midnight snack. Peanut butter and crackers. Today I put my underwear on backwards, at least I changed pajamas. They took the strings out of the laundry bags so we don’t hang ourselves so I ended up with men’s underwear. The mirrors are like 19th century mirrors, I suspect they do it on purpose. “How are you feeling,” the new worker asks. Great, never been better, what does one say? Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 10
Last night I dreamed of heroin. At least, I dreamed of the search for heroin. Something kept going wrong, as if it represents something unreachable, even when we’re asleep. Oliver Twist asks for more—we state it as a fact. They say the Inuit have fifty words for snow. An addict has almost as many for his drug of choice. I miss the ritual of using. Addiction is just religion without the belief. No one knows better (or less) than a junkie—we are all mortal. We get pizza on welfare day. At least, we used to. I believe the tradition has been discarded due to budgeting. Normally we aren’t allowed any outside food. We aren’t allowed to order the pizza ourselves because years ago it showed up with Valium in the cheese, or so a worker told me. They’ve cut the allowable stay. We used to be able to stay for seven days, now it’s five and they no longer inform us that day six and seven on the methadone taper are the hardest. That’s not a good parting message for anyone. A guy keeps bitching about the recovery house—Together We Can. Together We Couldn’t, he calls it. Recovery houses always have these names. Together We Can. Yes You Can. Turning Point. New Day. New Way. New Dawn. I’m not even making these up. Apparently my chart says that I have been social. The worker tells me this and jokes, “That’s not my girl, they must be talking about someone else.” I tell her this is no place to make friends. I tell the doctor that I haven’t even had sex since the last time
NON-FICTION they tested me for HIV. “I smoke it,” I say. He checks for track marks. Addicts lie, I get it, but if I am already here, what dignity do I have left to hold on to? Hanging upside down on the bench used to be my favourite place but now the bench is gone. It gave a new perspective. I try to see how many times I can write ‘Fuck’ in my notebook before giving up. I swear too much here, I can’t help it. Swearing is like breathing in detox. It’s like HBO without the sex. Or the drugs, for that matter. I once took a sex trade questionnaire
dope (put it somewhere very intimate) in jail and something about the fear of losing the drugs through rape. Another girl hides cigarettes and a crack pipe in the ceiling. Tries to light up with tinfoil in the wall socket. This nicotine patch won’t stay on with all this sweating. I called a friend from school and tried to act normal but she just wanted to know what it’s like here and what can I say? Once when I was here after MDMA, I hid in the freezer for an hour—paranoid.
We tried to swim our way to annihilation. I have become an expert on the philosophy of the gutter. I studied Rat Park by researcher Bruce Alexander. Rats in small, solitary cages will kill themselves with opiates while rats in a more luxurious and natural environment won’t drink the morphine water, even when it has been sweetened to taste and even when they have already been forced into physical dependency. There is no beginning or end to addiction, only the middle. You can’t wake up on
“THIS IS A SEARING AND MOVING ACCOUNT OF A YOUNG PERSON’S TIME SPENT IN DETOX FOR HEROIN ADDICTION,” WROTE M.A.C. FARRANT IN SELECTING THE PIECE. “IT IS WRITTEN WITH INSIGHT, PALPABLE ANGER, AND GREAT HONESTY.” that asked me if I use opiates as a form of birth control. Even my drug riddled mind saw the irony, were girls really claiming they had sex to support their birth control habit? If I pretend to be transgender can I get my own room? There are six of us in this room. I count the planes above bed #4. A girl who just arrived sets herself in bed and says, “I would rather die.” Another has Hope tattooed on her wrist. I’m tempted to ask if she regrets it. A guy says that detox is like being fucked by an elephant. Only he laughs. I play crib with Q-tips with a boy. “Poor me, poor me, pour me a drink,” he likes to say. I know how this will go. We will swear we won’t. We will swear and swear and swear… we will swim and swim and swim… Addicts never grow up, just old, and often not even that. The baths are in the drunk tank and once the ceiling fell into the tub when I tried to soak out the aches with Epson salts. My hair is so greasy but I refuse to wash it, that will give me the chills worse than I already have them. Whomever said pain is a great teacher was full of it and certainly had never been to Vancouver Detox. A girl brags about having suitcased
The last thing I remembered from the night before was a guy telling me my eyes were rolling back in my head. In the morning I asked where my clothes were and he said he put me in the bath to bring down my temperature—didn’t I remember? Eventually it came back, a brief moment of it. I didn’t mean to get you that fucked up, he said. I didn’t believe him but I didn’t really care. I stopped knowing what caring was. At least, my caring was so deeply hidden and guarded I seldom knew it was even there. In Surrey Detox music played from a radio in the wall. At first I didn’t know where it was coming from. I thought I was crazy. The nurse laughed. I got kicked out and the police dropped me off at Gateway Skytrain station. There was something off about it, even for detox. The youth detox was separated with glass walls as if we were observing them as an experiment. Since then I’ve lied about my address to go to Vancouver Detox instead. And one gets used to these places. The food doesn’t seem so bad when you’re used to eating out of a can. We are like a learned helplessness experiment; they measure how long it takes rats to give up trying to swim. How long it takes them to drown, essentially. We have just reversed the experiment.
the wrong side of the bed when you sleep on the floor. The grass is always greener on the other side when you don’t have a lawn. We leave our possessions at the door. We are allowed two pair of pants, two shirts and pajamas. And before this I was writing graduate papers for someone else. One in ethics. Seriously. Truth is stranger than fiction. Sometimes truth is fiction. I’m afraid I’m telling you too much. More than I want to admit to myself. Writing is a sort of mirror that talks back and I’m not sure I want to listen. Giving up heroin isn’t only giving up a best friend but giving up a best friend by placing a gun at their temple and writing feels like trying to capture a butterfly with a broken net. I am alive and hurting and maybe that’s enough. Sometimes that’s all there is. Sometimes that’s everything. I’m supposed to end this with some sort of resolution but that’s all I have. I’m chanting my dealer’s number like a hymn. Something between a hymn and a rap. What got me here is waiting on the other side of the door—If I didn’t have to leave, would I ever? I’m still afraid of a working mirror. Page 11 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Fall 2016
18 & UNDER
TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS A CASE STUDY
he saying that is the title of my scientific analysis has long intrigued me. I feel I have experienced enough wounds in my life (while isolated and incomparable to some) that I can weigh in with reasonable knowledge to whether this statement is true or false. In my observations, you can break down this idea of ‘wounds’ into three major categories: Lost love Lost life Lost time In that order, they get increasingly harder to ‘heal’. I am going to give a breakdown of each so that you may fully come to understand the reasoning behind my conclusion. I know many of you may skip to the end so that you can discover my findings the quick and dirty way. While I advise you not to do this, I understand why you might. As humans we have the constant urge to complete tasks and overcome challenges faster and faster which as a result we think makes us better. I will talk about this behavioural anomaly as well. Please read on: Lost Love Losing love can happen slowly like frost creeping onto your lawn, or it can hit you unbelievably hard, like a hand crushing your throat until your lungs burn, like racing down a ski slope only to fall face first into the ice, like suddenly vomiting out the contents Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 12
of your stomach. If it happens slowly, you’re one of the lucky ones. Well, depending on how you see it. You may be a rip-off-the-band-aid type of person or a slowly-peel-so-your-pain-is-longer-but-less-in-volume kind of person. All three of my categories can be further broken down into being wounded slowly or quickly. Losing love can then be even further broken down into Falling out of love Someone falling out of love with you Circumstantial loss of love Falling out of love slowly is sort of like when you keep picking at a hangnail until it becomes sore and irritated, but you can’t stop pushing your finger into that spot. It annoys you so much until one day you decide to just clip it off and be done with it. That only makes the pain worse. Now you have an open cut that stings every time you wash your hands, and you wonder why you cut it off in the first place. It will eventually heal though, and time will allow you the perspective to remember why you decided to let go of it in the first place. This situation is where I have found time heals your wound, and you’re free of pain in the end. Time—1 Wounds—0 Someone falling out of love with you is much messier, and
NON-FICTION M.A.C FARRANT ALSO JUDGED THIS CATEGORY AND WROTE, “THIS IS VERY ASSURED WRITING WHICH, ON THE SURFACE, APPEARS TO BE TONGUE-IN- CHEEK YET DEALS WITH PERSONAL LOSS AND GRIEF IN A VERY POIGNANT WAY. THE EFFECT OF THE WORK IS ONE OF ENGAGEMENT AND GREAT HONESTY.”
much harder to deal with. This is where you have to take a long hard look at yourself and go “Why wasn’t I good enough?” That question only leads to pain and suffering. Let. Me. Tell. You. You start comparing yourself to everyone around you, measuring and calculating. If only you had their body, their laugh, their patience. This takes a long time to get rid of; sometimes you can never shake it. You can mostly move on from it, but it will always be there in the back of your mind years later. The jury took a long time to decide who won on this one and they always come back with a tie. It’s gonna heal, but it’s gonna leave a scar. And not some little scar you only notice every once in a while. It’s going to be big, and it’s going to be ugly, but it is going to be healed. Time—2 Wounds—0 Circumstantial loss of love is when no matter how much two people love each other they are torn apart by unforeseen circumstances and pushed in opposite directions. I’ve lived this one. There is so much loss and so many unanswered questions and plans made that you realize are now gone that you could drown in all of it. You promise to stay close, but you’re not sure if it’s harder to love each other in this different way or not to love at all. Currently, I can’t for see if wounds or time will win out here. I’m really cheering for time though. I suppose I will have to wait and see. [Undecided] Lost Life Loss of life is often compared to loss of love—they go hand in hand. You cannot mourn the loss of someone if you didn’t love them. This is what makes this category
more difficult than the last. There are endless alleyways in the how of this situation but they always end up at one final point: you love someone and they are gone from your life. My little sister died when I was ten years old. She had terminal cancer for three years before it happened. I had time to get used to the idea of her actually dying for only three months though. The other two years and nine months I honest to God thought she was going to survive. When you lose someone so close to, so core to your life, there is a hole blasted into you. Their energy around you disappears. When theirs is gone, so is some of yours. Others fill that empty space over time but there will still be cracks around the crater. Time will help, but will not heal. Time—2 Wounds—1 Lost Time My last category combines my previous two in the most cruel and sadistic way. Lost time is created when you lose love. Love is full of endless possibilities and plans and futures and when all that is gone you’re left with nothing. I’m not going to be optimistic at all here—you are left with nothing, nada, zero, zip. Lost time is also created when life is a life is snuffed. You lose all the future time you unconsciously assumed was right around the corner. I vividly see all the time my six year old sister lost every time I drive past the elementary school she should have graduated from, every time her birthday passes and I have no way to know what she would have wanted. Especially every time
I walk past her room door and know she’s never going to walk out of it again. Lost time is created as I watched my grandma develop dementia and slowly forget everyone she ever knew or loved. Lost time can be memories that were there and now forgotten, crumpled old newspapers with headlines of her life used as kindling, burning up, then flying into the night as blackened pieces of ash. Lost time cannot be healed, because it can never evaporate. It will always hang over the heads of its victims — vast, heavy, everlasting. Time—2 Wounds—2 We have reached an impasse, time and wounds are tied, and I have no more categories to mull over. Yet there is one topic I promised to touch on that I haven’t mentioned: human’s nature to finish everything as fast as possible, consequences be damned. A young girl so eager to be healed of heartbreak. She kisses too many boys to count, yet her wound stays fresh. A widowed man remarries too soon, yet the void left by his spouse grows larger as days go by. An entrepreneur scraps a business idea, only to suffer at their day job wondering what could have been. (Losing the possibility of something is just as hard as losing something that was actually there.) Wounds heal. But it takes time and if you don’t give yourself that luxury then you will never allow yourself to be healed. Case Closed.
Page 13 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Fall 2016
18 & UNDER
FOREST GAMES VICTORIA VIEIRA
am not a nice girl. It’s just one of those things I’ve known my whole life, from my nasty toddler phase right up to my sharptongued teenage years. Being kind and good did not sit well with me, and after a while, I just stopped trying. I accepted that the meanness inside me was a tangible thing, as real as the heart in my chest. Sometimes, I let myself do something truly wicked. I have to in order to stay sane. When I was six, I snuck into my baby sister’s room in the middle of the night and shaved all of the downy hairs off her warm head. I slipped the soft blonde wisps into a small bag and slept with them under my pillow. My mother knew what I had done, somehow, as she always did, and did not take it well. I was bad/nasty/downright evil, and not allowed dessert for the next three months. I sat in my chair and watched as my older brother ate my share. Three years later, a girl in my class fell off the platform at the top of the slide and broke her arm. She was too big to be playing like a child, and my mind was screaming at me, and no one was around. The dark thing inside me had grown claws and was bearing its fangs. It only stopped snarling when I pressed my palms against her frail back and pushed, hard, watching as she toppled over. Her cast was bright pink and everyone in the class got to sign it. I wrote “Get better soon!” with a thick black marker, and took a piece of sparkly ribbon off her desk when her back was turned. Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 14
Mother was constantly suspicious of me, so it wasn’t until I turned sixteen that I began to truly test my limits. The boys at school were intrigued by my coltish legs, tanned skin, and pink mouth, and were easy to lure away. One by one, I took them outside and into the forest to play. It started innocently enough; an angry red scratch along their cheek as they panted, dog-like, into my mouth, or chunks of their greasy hair pulled out and left among the leaves. But I grew tired, and knew that I had to do something more/better/ worse. When I led Andrew Green out far enough where I knew no one would hear us, I knocked his legs out from under him and pressed my boot into his chest. He was visibly excited, as no doubt my reputation preceded me, and I smiled sweetly while pulling the blade out of my waistband. Andrew’s eyes widened, but he did not begin to panic until I kneeled down and pressed the steel against his pale throat. My veins were singing, he was starting to sweat, and the growing darkness grinned. A drop of blood escaped from the wound as I applied pressure, and I was captivated by its colour and the way it slid like a tear down to the forest floor. I whispered in his ear that if he told anyone about this I would leave him with more than a superficial cut, and wiped the knife on his t-shirt. He laid there, stunned, as I slipped his student ID into my pocket and walked back to school quickly to arrive on time for my fourth period class.
FICTION That was two years ago. Andrew was not the only boy and was not left in the worst condition, but I knew I had to be careful. If I let myself go too far I would get caught, and my mother would be the first to testify against me. Her watery brown eyes followed my every move, and I dreamt of popping them right out of her skull, watching gleefully as they rolled around on the hardwood floor. Eighteen now, and I’m becoming restless. I dig my sharp nails into my wrist during class to distract myself from my racing thoughts. The teacher is babbling, and Andrew Green transferred to a different school, and I have a note in my bag from someone asking to meet them in the parking lot when the bell rings. I am torn between curiosity and concern. But I want to find out who slipped the torn piece of paper into my locker this morning, so I quiet the voice that’s warning me to stay away and sneak out through the language building. The sky is overcast, and the clouds are sagging, heavy with rain. I hear the Spanish teacher yelling at her class to roll their tongues and focus on their vowel sounds. Nothing moves across the asphalt, and the dirty cars sit hunched against the wind. My breath is caught in my throat, and I am excited/nervous/afraid. A sharp blow to the back of my head pitches me forward, and just as I regain my
balance someone has yanked my arms togeth- sharply. I am not scared to be shorn like er, hard, white hot pain blinding. I know that an animal. if I struggle I risk ripping my shoulders out Three short snips later and the of their sockets. I’m tempted to try just to see leaves around me crunch with their what it would feel like. footsteps. He/she/it is circling me, a liSomething, twine or zip-ties or string, oness with bloody lips, but I keep my binds my wrists, and I am jerked forward. I gaze trained to the ground. It is not until do not struggle or plead for my life. I am more they speak that I look up at them, strugexcited by the possibilities than frightened; gling to keep a straight face. I know what I have tucked in my jeans and “So how’d I do?” Her hair is still would love to have the opportunity to use it. thin and blonde, angel soft, and I think We’re going to the forest. This fact doesn’t back to that night twelve years ago. She surprise me, but makes me wonder who my si- holds up a small bag, a meagre colleclent assailant is, and if they have a scar made by tion of my dark hair resting inside. my hand. The thought shoots a thrill through “Were you scared?” me, and I struggle to hide my smile. I bite my tongue so hard that I taste It’s dark today, especially under the cover blood, coppery pennies swimming. Her of the trees, and I stumble even though I could eyes are glowing blue. The darkness navigate these woods in pitch black. Frailty in my chest swells with a new feeling, makes for a better victim, and I know my kid- pride, and I feel it grow, fester, until I napper wants the full experience. am nothing more than a body for it to I am brought to my knees before I can inhabit. think of how I will convince them to untie my “Terrified,” it says through my wrists. I could twist my neck painfully and mouth. “But you still have a lot to learn.” search for his or her face, but I want to play along a little bit longer. A section of my hair is lifted away from my neck, and I Your step-by-step guide to designing and typehear the familiar setting your own book using Adobe® InDesign® sound of scissors snapping closed, Book Design Made Simple gives DIY authors, editors, slicing the air
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With every jump, I could see a little more of the horizon, and I watched as it faded from freshly minted pennies to baskets of chili peppers into absolute zero blue that obscured the treetop canopy and its horrible needle rictus grin. I watched as the planet spun like blades in a blender and Mongolia once more greeted the morning, its dusty steppes stealing the light away from me and plunging me headlong into cloudy broken night With every apex another star reared its head, with every apex Helios approached his crescendo before vanishing into day, the way a cougar approaches a hiker and vanishes into the bush. I dove
into the stratosphere.
My lungs bloated in the thin air, ready to burst, like two bronchial balloons. The wolf in my ribs howled over the backyard fence at the moon. declaring to the Scottish heather the japanese maple tree a two-foot St. Peter with a lichen beard that I was indeed alive.
ON THE ROOF
THE JUDGE, LEAF PRESS PUBLISHER URSULA VAIRA, HAD THIS TO SAY ABOUT AUBRY’S WORK: "THIS POEM CAN BE READ ON A COUPLE OF LEVELS: I SENSED SOME DARKNESS. I CHOSE IT FOR ITS ASTONISHING MOVEMENT AND IMAGERY AND FOR THE SHEER RUSH OF REMEMBERING THAT I WAS ALIVE ON THIS CRAZY CAREENING PLANET. I FELT THE HOWL BEGIN IN MY OWN RIBCAGE: SOMETIMES THAT IS WHAT WE WANT FROM POETRY." Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 16
TEACHING YOUNG WRITERS TERENCE YOUNG
long time ago—let’s not say exactly how long—I was teaching at Claremont High School outside Victoria, which at that time had a very progressive principal by the name of John Pringle. When I asked him one day whether he would allow me to pilot a creative writing class for grade 11 and 12 students, he told me that, if I could convince a sufficient number, he would let the section run. Out of that first class came some seriously fine poetry and fiction, and when my colleague and writer Bill Stenson suggested we start a magazine to feature this work and the work of other students across Canada, The Claremont Review came into being. It is still publishing today—it can be found online at theclaremontreview.ca—and coming very close to its 50th issue. (It puts out an issue twice a year, so you can do the math.) One question always seems to come up with regard to both the magazine and the quality of the writing generated by adolescent writers: how is it possible to teach the art of writing good poetry and fiction to students of such a young age? My first reaction is usually to say that I don’t teach them. Rather, I use models to demonstrate what good writing is. Lots of models. Poets like Mark Strand, Tony Hoagland, Jane Kenyon, Louise Glück, Mary Oliver, and Robert Pinsky. Also, short fiction authors like David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Joy Williams, Lorrie Moore, T.C.
Boyle, Bill Gaston and Amy Hempel. These are authors who are continuing to publish today, and all the work I show my students is recent, often lifted out of the latest copy of The New Yorker or Harper’s or from some of the many literary periodicals published across Canada such as Grain, Prairie Fire, The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, TNQ and Event Magazine. While I still admire the writing of Hemingway, Joyce, Faulkner and O’Connor, they do not represent the spirit of our time, either in terms of content or style. There will be plenty of years ahead for students of the age I teach to discover the beauty of earlier practitioners of the art. Still, one can ask whether it is sufficient merely to show a student a piece of good writing and expect them to mirror the writer’s technique and insight without any guidance. And, of course, the answer is no. Ultimately, the person teaching a creative writing class must be a writer, too, someone who is engaged with producing his or her own poetry or fiction for publication. While I admire many teachers of English for their ability to help students to read closely and to craft fine critical essays, these skills are of little help in a creative writing class. This truth has become more than obvious to me and my other creative writing colleagues over the years that we have been teaching poetry and short fiction in high schools – I’m
speaking of teachers like Janice McCachen, Susan Stenson , Bill Stenson, Jay Connolly and Kim Tait. Writing teachers must also be a practitioners of the art; otherwise, they will not have encountered or undertaken to eradicate the many flaws and misconceptions of the novice writer and thus be of little help to their students. Most post-secondary writing classes embrace the workshop model, a seminar style of instruction in which students flex their critical muscles making editorial suggestions to their peers under the supervision of the teacher. While this strategy works well with older students, those of high school age need the guidance of someone who can show them what to look for – needless repetition, clichés, unintentional rhyme, pointless abstraction, the lack of concrete detail and imagery. Once they assimilate the language of the craft and learn to apply it to their own writing, they are miles closer to becoming discerning and thoughtful editors, capable of spotting their own shortcomings as well as those of their fellow writers. Of great importance to any writing teacher is the need to be catholic in his or her presentation of models and in the tolerance he or she shows to styles of writing that defy convention. There will be students whose poetry and stories do not fit neatly into the categories of “lyrical narrative” or “imagistic” or “spoken word.” Writing teachers must always Page 17 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Fall 2016
fight to suppress their own taste and to avoid re-shaping the young poets or storywriters under their watch in their own image. Too often I will read poetry that falls under the category of “workshop poetry,” and at times some of these poems come from my own students, who, like almost all students, are eager to please, to give the teacher what he or she wants. Our task as teachers of writing is to find whatever is good in a given submission – and what is good may even offend us – to draw the writer’s attention to where he or she has succeeded, and simply to ignore those passages that have fallen short. This is not to say that I refrain entirely from occasionally projecting a student’s work anonymously on the screen to demonstrate the subtle and sometimes not so subtle revisions one might make to improve the poem or story, but students who have had their work thus exposed have come back later to tell me that such scrutiny, while at the time uncomfortable, was also a moment of real learning. The trick is always to suggest that, but for these mostly minor editorial changes, the poem itself is a thing of genius and the author has every right to be proud of it. Usually, my students applaud after another student’s work is presented this way, even if the author is anonymous. For the most part, this method of teaching has served me well in the decades since that first class. I now teach at a private school, St. Michaels University School, and I have found that there is always a core group of young writers in both public and private institutions who are eager to explore their own talents on the page. Strangely, though, there are actually very few formal high school creative writing programs in Canada, partly because such courses are electives, and students seem increasingly constrained to focus on their core academic program in preparation for their university careers. For those who take the plunge, however, the experience is invariably positive, and I have not had to vary the formula much over the years. Of course, I also incorporate exercises that I have designed or come upon, and some of them work very well, but I find that the best poems written by students are the ones they want to write, not the ones they are tricked into writing. The digital revolution has also altered things a little. Many of the poems I valued as exemplars are now available on the Internet, Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 18
and I have been able to relinquish the dozens of plastic overheads I have kept in files. There are also more contests now, such as the one sponsored by the BC Federation of Writers. Contests provide incentive for young writers and offer the promise, not only of financial reward, but also of recognition of their talent. For the winner of this year’s inaugural competition, Aubry Williams, as well as for the two runners-up, Matthew Lane and Sid Boegman, the confirmation of their abilities as writers may have life-long implications. There is no doubt that I enjoy a certain vicarious pleasure when my students win awards because such recognition constitutes affirmation of my original impulse to create the class. Most of all, however, I try to remain humble. The people I am teaching may be
younger than I am, but in many cases they are much smarter, and their lives have often been much more demanding and difficult than my own. Ultimately, I consider myself lucky, because in teaching writing I have acquired new friends, people who have gone on to become established writers themselves. To identify them would be unfair to the others I have taught, and I have been a teacher too long to point out favorites, even if those favorites know exactly who they are. In this age where it seems the arts are more and more under pressure to clarify what contributions they make to society, I consider myself blessed to have had the chance to teach a class where the criteria for success lie in the eye, the ear and the heart.
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THOUGHTS ON EDITING POETRY NAOMI BETH WAKAN
ost writers are sensitive when it comes to editing their precious words. They have even been known to cling to their titles. Graham Greene, after years with Viking, moved to Simon & Schuster. “I switched after the last book,” he said. “What irritated me was a telegram saying that the travellers [salesmen] didn't like the title of my book Travels With My Aunt and would I change it to something else, and I came back saying it was easier to change the publisher than the title.” Poets, whose lines contains so much condensed thought and feelings, are understandably more sensitive about changing even a comma. Poets are notorious for being a little obsessive-compulsive about the birth of their children. Not that they won’t themselves edit their “first careless raptures;” the first impulsive pouring of words on to their pages. Still,
self-editing always has its limits, since what may be missing is not clearly seen by the poet, for our busy little minds know what we are trying to say and we think we have said it clearly. Meanwhile those very same minds fill in the obvious gaps that a reader might just see gaping. My first effort at editing someone else’s poetry finished up rather disastrously. They had sent me a poem for comments. Often this means they want praise rather than constructive criticism and in those cases I usually write back politely that I am reluctant to offer any since their style is not my style and I am not familiar enough with it to be helpful. This poem, that I had been sent, had a rather clever idea behind it that really appealed to me. In fact, I wished I had thought of something that original myself. Forgetting that I was supposed
to be offering criticism, I rewrote the whole poem using the poet’s idea, but putting it down so much better in my own witty style. The poet was horrified and our correspondence finished abruptly. Having learned my lesson, my second effort at editing poetry was much more successful. The poet had about sixty poems on various topics. The subjects were interesting and her approach amazingly fresh. I was enchanted, held back my impulse to rewrite them all, and we spent a happy year working on her poetry. She illustrated them and self-published a very beautiful book that actually saw light of day before my first poetry book came from Wolsak and Wynn. Recognizing her talent, I was generous enough to put aside the wisp of jealousy that rose within me as she beat me to the gun. So what is it one can offer when one is “editing” someone else’s poetry? What am I looking for when I do so? Well firstly I want to know what the poem is telling me and see if it is succeeding—who is doing what to whom and where it is all taking place. I assume the poet is trying to communicate their thoughts and feelings when they put pen to paper. Even if these are not clear, but somehow lost in metaphor and simile, I still need to be swept up in the rhythm and melody of the poem so that even if I am lost in its profusion, somehow I am able to still sense its meaning, even though I may have to do so unconsciously. I like short poems and usually only work with these. I have a brief attention span and am not helpful when presented with a poem of more than two pages. Being teethed on haiPage 19 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Fall 2016
ku and tanka, I belong to the minimalist school that feels that everything that needs to be said can be said within the glance across two facing pages. As an aside, I do feel that we writers have only one thing that we personally need to tell the world. We just go on telling the same thing in different guises, until we get fed up, or die. So yes, I can work more easily with other’s tight poems. Trained from haiku, I look for useless adjectives—“nice,” “beautiful.” I want the nouns to be strong; strong enough to not always need an adjective to prop them up. I demand freshness. Not just the absence of cliché, but the juxtaposition of startling images that are linked in ways I might never have thought of linking them. It may be important for the poet’s development to use wellworn ideas and familiar rhythms, but the reader usually asks for more. Someone once told me that using strict form for poetry often made for unusual results as the poet is forced to find a word of say three syllables that rhymes with orange. So I don’t put down a strict adherence to traditional forms. I am also interested as to how the poem is displayed on the page—where the lines are cut and if the poem is shaped. I am a visual, as well as a verbal person and I love to see how those black letters are placed on that very white page. Shaped poems are not enough if the content is dull, however. When it comes to the visual in poetry, I dislike the capitalization of every line irrespective of whether it starts a sentence, or not. I usually read the poem I am considering aloud, and too much capitalization impedes my flow. Haiku and tanka, my specialities, have no capitalization at all and little punctuation. On reading them, I know when to pause because the images tell me when. Even in haiku which are called one-breath poetry, there is a pause where one image confronts another. Of course, mostly when editing, I am looking for voice; something that tells me that the poem could only have been written by that poet and none other. As the budding poet self-discovers, it is wonderful to watch them make small shifts towards being truer and truer to themselves. I also want the poet not to shuffle around. I look for them telling the whole truth as they see it, not holding anything back. The idea should not be camouflaged in excess words and wanderings. I don’t like having to dig too deeply in order to get the essence of the poem. The reader, of course, brings their own skills, and their own baggage to the reading, but they should at least be given the outline of a map in order to find the treasure. Poets used to be placed at the right hand side of kings at banquets. They were respected and honoured for their role in providing a setting down of histories, a record of the moment and insights into the future. We have a role and anything we can do get closer to the respect we were once given is worth doing. This perhaps, starts with editing. Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 20
R E I M AG I N E YO U R WO R L D 100+ A
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THE LANGUAGE IN WHICH YOU CHOOSE TO WRITE
s writers we have to decide what to write about, which point of view we will choose, who will be our audience. What if on top of everything, you had to decide in which language to write? For the increasing numbers of bilinguals and polyglots out there, it is a valid question. One could easily assume that the choice of language is a simple issue of comfort or practicality. In which language is it easier for me to write? In which language will I have a bigger audience? The reality is far more complicated. Ease and comfort certainly was a consideration for Silvana Goldemberg. Originally from Argentina, she had already written several children and YA books in Spanish when she moved to British Columbia. Though she continues to write in Spanish, her life in Canada pushed her to write in English as well. She uses her second language when writing non-fiction and short stories only, as she still finds it takes her longer to write in English. “I also write stories in one language and translate or rewrite them into the other, so I have them in both languages”, she adds. That is not always possible, though. Sometimes, one of her micro-fiction stories might only work in one of the languages because the main point “is a pun that
doesn’t make sense in the other language”, says Goldemberg. Practical considerations are definitely a reason for many, but not always. Sometimes, the choice of language for writing is much more random. For Lebanese-born Antoine Badaoiu, it was pure chance. His first children’s story was written, of all languages, in Portuguese. The Brazilian Institute where he was studying organized a story competition to promote the use of the language among the students. That call prompted him to write in his fourth language and the story won him the second prize. Now living in BC and working as a counsellor with Syrian refugees, his first thought was to write another children’s book about diversity, this time in English. After doing some research and seeing the dearth of material published in Arabic, he decided to write this book in Arabic instead. Not everybody has such an easy time moving from one language to another, though. Israeli-Canadian writer Ayelet Tsabari had been writing in Hebrew since she was six years old. After moving to Canada, there was a long stretch when she felt in writing limbo, her Hebrew growing rusty, her English still not developed enough for her to convey the complexity she needed to write
fiction. The switch came through a compromise, changing genres. She started writing literary non-fiction and short stories. Eventually, she discovered a new version of herself in her adopted language. For her, the experience was freeing, a possibility to reinvent herself and to add a layer of complexity to her experience of being “in between places, in between identities, in between languages.” Sometimes, though, the choice of a foreign language is not necessarily a reflection of your lived experience, but the only way that makes it possible for you to say what you want. Languages that one acquires later in life words don’t come with the visceral reactions and emotional charge that the ones we acquired as children. Working with a language that is so detached from you, can also be freeing when dealing with material that is difficult to write. That was the case for a colleague who was working on a painful memoir. Though a fluent speaker of English, the awful amount of the language’s homophones seemed to be tricking her when writing. Why wouldn’t she write in English instead, where she would have an easier time? She told me it was becauseFrench allowed her the necessary distance from that material. I could relate to that. When the issue we are writing about is a difficult one, writing for Page 21 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Fall 2016
another, foreign audience in a foreign language adds layers of (perceived) safety. Yet, in both her and my case, the choice of a third language to tell about a difficult or politically charged past wasn’t such a stretch. After all, we already lived in a country where we used the language in our everyday life and work. But for others, that distancing, fleeing if you want, becomes such an imperative that the person is willing to learn another language from scratch to express what they need. Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri confesses that Italian, a language she had no prior connection with, was initially just an infatuation. That unrequited love lasted over a decade until she decided to move to Italy. Choosing to write in Italian seemed “a transgression, a rebellion, an act of stupidity.” There was certainly a backlash. Both Lahiri and Tsabari’s decision to change languages was met by resistance; people predicted disasters. After all, the language one chooses to write in is always a political decision. Despite the warnings and the difficulties of expressing themselves in their adoptive language, both Lahiri and Tsabari persevered. Both speak about a more genuine, more vulnerable part of themselves when trying to communicate in their adoptive language. There’s nowhere to hide in that language. The constrains imposed by the new languages allowed them to find a different direction, an opening to other possibilities. After all, if what we do as writers is to play with words, writing in another language is having the chance to play with a new game, with different pieces and a new set of rules. All the more fun. Whatever the choice or the reason for doing it, there is much to be gained by encouraging different voices in different languages. They allow us to reach further, to cross boundaries, to communicate across the ultimate frontier. They allow for different ways of seeing the world and being in the world. In a province that is home to more than thirty First Nation languages and tens of other languages from across the world are spoken, we should hope for and embrace that stories be told in as many languages as possible.
ANTHOLOGIES FOR CHARITY
Voices from the Valleys – Stories & Poems about Life in BC’s Interior
ISBN: 978-0993700439 308 pages, trade paperback: $18.95 Short fiction, memoirs, and poetry, depicting experiences in BC’s Interior. 51 contributors; drawings and colour photos. Proceeds to Doctors Without Borders Canada.
Childhood Regained – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers
ISBN: 978-0993700446 274 pages, trade Paperback: $18.95 21 well-researched stories by writers around the world, about Asian child labourers; with study questions & resources. Age 12 & up. Proceeds to SOS Children’s Villages Canada. Ingram, Amazon, Indigo online, Red Tuque Books, Cobalt Books. www.CobaltBooks.net; info@CobaltBooks.net
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Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 22
HELPING SELF-PUBLISHERS SINCE 1986
INTERVIEWING SUSAN TIBERGHIEN Dreams and Nature: The Keys to Memoir Writing
n her eighties, American-born Susan Tiberghien’s demeanour is both endearing and engaging. She doesn’t just smile, she glows. Her eyes connect intently as she listens, or replies in a modulated voice, her hands often reaching for yours or holding your shoulders. She agreed to meet me in a café in Geneva, Switzerland, where she lives, last April. Her generous interest and her writing insights inspired me to attend—last July—the International Women’s Writing Guild conference (IWWG) at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. A pillar of the Guild—she hasn’t missed a conference since 1990—she gave memoir and personal narrative workshops every day and attended open readings at night. Always sought after whether she is walking, eating, or in conversation, we finally found time for this interview. You have been teaching for over twenty-five years in Europe, at the IWWG conferences, at various venues in the United States, you published five books and you are writing another one, what drives you? What drives me is my passion for writing and teaching, and finding the balance between the two. I want to share how writing can give meaning to one’s life; writers are here to witness; it’s both a personal and a political responsibility. What is the most common misconception about the genre? A memoir is a window into your life. It’s a slice of your life that could be part of your autobiography, but it’s not your whole life. It usually begins with a longing, a need. The deeper the need is, the deeper the story.
Books by Susan Tiberghien (Credit: MCArnott)
What is the process for writing a memoir? You have to find what your subject is going to be, and it’s called the window, then you open it. The feelings that come with memories will set the creative process. You can have many subjects in your memoir and you can write many memoirs because you have many windows in your house. You wrote several memoirs, did you choose the genre or did it choose you? The memoir genre chose me when I was attending a IWWG conference and writing a novel at the time. One day, I was happily sharing the work I was doing in Jungian analysis, and the next morning I remembered dreaming the title and the chapters of Looking for Gold, a memoir that would deepen my creativity by writing from dreams. Precisely, In Looking for Gold (A Year in Jungian Analysis), you guide us to remember a dream—as a lay student of C.G. Jung—and
show us how to follow it until we find a living image, where does that living image take us? Each chapter of this book is the image of a dream. I look in the dream for an image that is alive and I focus on it until it takes me on its path into my deeper self— and to story. It requires stillness of mind, so the dream that wishes to be remembered comes out. Then the narrative follows. To write a memoir we must go first into our inner self because that’s how we find who we are, which I share in my second book Circling to the Center. In One Year to a Writing Life (Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer’s Art and Craft) deemed a book that many writers wished they had when they started out, you say that journaling is a gift, how so? It brings together the different steps towards the writing life. One year is maybe a bit short, but we can follow the program and we start with journaling; it’s the foundation; it’s the first step. It’s a gift to ourselves because through our journals we Page 23 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Fall 2016
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understand who we are, and get a deeper understanding of the world. How does a writer transition from journaling to memoir writing? I call my journal entries “gleanings.” When I observe nature on a walk, it talks to me. Think of it as the seed for a story! It might lead you to write about a memory, and to expand it into memoir. In Side by Side (Writing Your Love Story) you share a family drama. To include or not to include sensitive truth: Is that the question? We had 55 years of marriage when I wrote it; it’s 58 years now. We have to speak about the happy memories because I believe that if we live from these happy memories we create new ones. But there are also less happy memories, so—because in writing a memoir we have to be honest to ourselves—I had to include our family’s difficult memories. I talk about it thinking of an oak leaf— always with an image from nature, a living image. On an oak leaf there are some black Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 24
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spots and if you tear them off, the whole leaf falls apart, but if you write about them and speak about them, I think they can lead you. It’s like the crack in a jug; it lets the light in. Should only the truth be told and should a writer take a pen name? When we write a memoir, we must decide what part goes in and what part stays out. In Side by Side some of the parts, perhaps about my parents, didn’t fit into my memoir of a long marriage. The parts that don’t fit can become the subject of another memoir. I don’t think we need to take a pen name. When I write about somebody in my family I show it to them first. When William Zinsser was writing Inventing the Truth he interviewed author Annie Dillard asking her this question; that’s what she did. Another answer is found in Mimi Schwartz‘s book Good Neighbours, Bad Times: Echoes of my Father’s German Village. She writes about going back to Germany to discover the roots of her father. In the preface she writes that this is how she
remembers what she discovered about her father’s life. She protects herself right from the beginning. You often use quotes. Why are they good tools for writers? Yes, I use excerpts when I teach, and quotes when I write. I think we don’t come into the world alone. Amy Clampitt, the celebrated poet, says that we come on the shoulders of other writers. And so I want to honour these other writers because I learn from them. They are good tools because they guide us. Footsteps, In Love with a Frenchman is another portable workshop in which you discuss the challenges of blending cultures through marriage, and share vignettes. Is this memoir collection a sub-genre? It’s a mosaic. I wrote about the first 38 years of our relationship, the first 30 years taking place with moves, sometimes back and forth, from France, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland. It’s crossing cultures almost
every year while raising five children and bringing the sixth one in from Vietnam. So I blend the cultures into a collection of parts of our life together. It’s different pieces—photos, recipes, prose, and poetry—put into a mosaic. I think a mosaic is a wonderful image for a memoir. Again, we focus on a subject, we open a window and the structure could be this mosaic, and the process is like putting stones together to find a pattern, the pattern of our life. Writers often feel insecure about their writing, what gave you confidence in yours? I started—really—writing when I turned fifty; family came first. I went to my first workshop. I was insecure in my writing, but I always wanted to write. Then in a group of writers somebody suggested where to send our pieces, and suggested I send mine to the London Financial Times. They had a monthly review. One piece was accepted and then another. I started gaining confidence. Then they gave me the back page of their review, so for a year I was writing a story each month for their monthly magazine Resident Abroad. The same thing happened with Christian Science Monitor, leaving in Europe I didn’t know about it, but somebody in a writing group suggested it. Join a writing group and let people suggest to you the markets!
go home writing about a pebble I picked. Among other pebbles it might look ordinary, but look at it carefully, and the Alchemy of Imagination will expand the image. What’s in front your desk that inspires you? Things that center me: Photos of my children, little images from my books, a frog. I have a frog because in Looking for Gold I have a whole chapter about frogs. Does your family read your writing? I offer it to them. I know my husband
does. From time to time they do. They haven’t all read my books. Any other comment you wish to offer? I cannot emphasize enough that writers need to join a group, to share their writing, to learn from others, and to give their own advice and their own little bits of gold. Again, find an association like IWWG or one in your area. For me, it has been a bridge between a deeper understanding of myself, and better writing.
What is the state of memoir publishing and readership? Memoir publishing is still a very popular genre. We thought it had maybe peaked ten years ago, but it continues to be popular. People want to know how other people are living in order to live more deeply themselves. Do you read more than you write? I read a lot, I don’t read more than I write I don’t think, perhaps, yes, I read maybe several hours a day. And I read as a writer, with a pencil. What’s your writing ritual? I start my day at my desk in my small study and sit in stillness. A silent prayer or a wordless meditation, and then I write, usually a journal entry although not every day. If I go for a walk, I look around and might
Susan Tiberghien and Marie-Claude Arnott (Photo rights: MCArnott)
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23 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A BEST SELLING THRILLER JODIE RENNER
hrillers, mysteries, and crime fiction make up the second highest-selling genre, after romances and erotica. If you enjoy reading page-turners full of suspense and intrigue, why not try your hand at writing one? Short fiction is also gaining popularity, so you could start with a short story or novella. Suspenseful fiction should be fast-paced and tightly written anyway, so the genre lends itself to shorter fiction, unlike historical sagas or fantasy. If you want your thriller, suspenseful mystery, romantic suspense, or other intriguing crime fiction to be a compelling page-turner and big seller, make sure you’ve included most or all of these elements: 1. A riveting opening. Don’t rev your engines with a lengthy description of the setting or background on the character’s life. Jump right in with your protagonist in a tension-filled scene with someone important in his world. 2. A protagonist who’s both ordinary and heroic. Rather than having a “Superman” invincible-type hero, it’s more satisfying to the readers if you use a regular person who’s thrown into stressful, then increasingly harrowing situations, and must summon all of his courage, strength and inner resources to overcome the odds, save himself and other innocent people, and defeat evil. Readers relate more personally to this type of main character, so bond with him better. 3. A likeable, sympathetic pro-
Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 26
tagonist. The readers need to be able to warm up to your main character quickly, to start identifying with her; otherwise they won’t really care what happens to her. So no cold, selfish, arrogant characters for heroes or heroines! 4. A worthy adversary for the protagonist. Your antagonist/villain needs to be as clever, strong, resourceful, and determined as your protagonist, but also nasty, immoral, and frightening. 5. An interesting setting. Readers like to find out about places they haven’t been, whether it’s the seedy side of Vancouver, glitzy Hollywood, rural Saskatchewan, the Rocky Mountains, or the bayous of Louisiana — or more distant, exotic locations. And milk your setting for all it’s worth – how does it play a part in the plot? 6. An inciting incident. What happens to the main character to set the story events in action? Make it tense and compelling. 7. A great plot, with ongoing conflict and tension. You need a big story question and plenty of intrigue. And every scene should have tension and conflict of some kind. If it doesn’t, revise it or delete it. 8. Lots of suspense. Keep the readers on the edge of their seats,
turning the pages to find out what’s going to happen next. 9. Multiple viewpoints. Narrating the story from various points of view, including that of the villain, will add interest, complexity and suspense to your novel. But show most scenes from the POV of your protagonist, and don’t head-hop within a scene! Wait for a new scene or chapter to change viewpoints. Deep (close) point of view is the most intimate and engaging. 10. A tight, generally fast-paced writing style. Streamline your writing to improve flow and pacing. Go through and take out all unnecessary words, sentences, and paragraphs, and any repetitive phrases, events or ideas. Thrillers are not the genre for lengthy explanations or detailed, flowery descriptions. 11. Internal struggling of the protagonist — Give her a moral dilemma; show his inner conflict. Make them complex and fascinating; never perfect, complacent, or overly confident. 12. Lots of emotions. Bring your characters to life by showing, on every page, their fear, panic, pain, worry, anger, determination, relief, joy, elation and other emotions. 13. Vivid sensory descriptions. Put the reader right there in the scene by evoking all five senses wherever
possible, plus emotion. Show what the character is hearing, smelling, feeling, touching and tasting, not only what they’re seeing.
17. Critical turning points. Present your hero with life-or-death decisions and show his anxiety, tension, and indecision.
14. Increasing danger. Keep raising the stakes and putting your hero in deeper and deeper trouble, to stretch his courage, determination, physical abilities, and inner resources to the maximum — and increase the reader’s emotional investment in him!
18. Obstacles in the way. Your heroine runs out of gas on a lonely road; your hero’s weapon falls into the river far below; he is wounded and can’t run; her cell phone battery is dead – whatever can go wrong does, and more.
15. A ticking clock. Your hero is racing against time to defeat the villain before innocents are killed. Adding ever-increasing time constraints increases the tension and suspense. 16. Troubles that hit home. Endanger the protagonist or someone close to her to add a personal dimension and increased stress.
19. Enough clues. Be fair. Use foreshadowing and layer in clues and info as you go along to slowly reveal the plot points and character’s backstory and motivations. 20. Twists and surprises. Write in a few unexpected plot twists. But make sure that, in retrospect, they make sense to the readers.
Pacific Wordcrafters Words matter.
21. A compelling climax. Put the protagonist at a disadvantage in the final conflict with the antagonist, to heighten the stakes. Pile on the adversity the hero has to overcome at the end. 22. A satisfying ending. Leave the unhappy or unresolved endings for literary fiction. Let the good guy overcome the bad guy — by a hair. 23. Psychological growth and change in the hero/heroine. Adversity has made him or her stronger, braver, wiser — a better person. For more tips, with examples, on writing riveting suspense fiction, see Jodie Renner’s writing guide, Writing a Killer Thriller. Also, check out her other two award-winning writing guides, Fire up Your Fiction and Captivate Your Readers. www.JodieRenner. com; www.JodieRennerEditing.com
AWARD-WINNING EDITOR’S GUIDES
Captivate Your Readers ISBN: 978-0993700415 225 pages, trade paperback: $14.95 Concrete advice for engaging readers through techniques such as deep point of view, showing instead of telling, avoiding author intrusions, and creating authentic dialogue.
Fire up Your Fiction ISBN: 978-0993700408 191 pages, trade Paperback: $14.95
Pacific Wordcrafters works with a wide range of clients to produce clear, clean, and carefully crafted writing projects. Lynn Easton • Janet Love Morrison Andrea Lister • Lesley Cameron
Tips with examples to help you hone your style, bring your scenes to life, tighten your writing, pick up the pace, and develop a more authentic voice.
Also by Jodie Renner: Writing a Killer Thriller and Quick Clicks reference guides. Organizer & editor of two anthologies for charity. All available in bookstores & through Amazon.
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LAUNCHED! New Titles by Federation of BC Writers Members If you are an FBCW member with a newly published book (self or traditionally published) let us know! We'd be happy to promote it here.
Hyaena Season Richard Osler
Quattro Books, October 2016 ISBN 978-1-988254-24-1 $18.00 The poems of Hyaena Season examine, with narrative and lyric intensity, the intimacies of a wide range of human experience from the killing grounds of Rwanda and DR Congo, to more familiar Canadian settings. But no matter the topics – whether memories of parents, children, lovers or the even more challenging stories of physical and emotional conflict at home or away, the focus is intensely personal. “A poem has its own mind,” writes Richard Osler, and Osler speaks from within the poem's mind, where, from war to its aftermath, from all the broken places and the struggle for entente within and without, Osler is “the foreigner, the traveller who knocks,” who asks, “Is there a true song that doesn't know a cage?” “When love is not enough,” there is poetry – to gather, to speak the words which will open the cage. And this, this is what Osler does. – Pamela Porter Richard Osler was born in Toronto and now lives in Duncan on Vancouver Island, where he facilitates poetry writing retreats and, also, weekly poetry workshops at The Cedars, an addiction recovery centre. His chapbook of short poems Where the Water Lives was published by Leaf Press in 2012. His poems have appeared in many journals. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Malahat Open Season Awards in poetry and in 2015 he was longlisted for the PRISM International Poetry Prize. His other writing includes chapters in The Rock Rabbit and the Rainbow: Laurens van der Post Among Friends and The Latest Morningside Papers by Peter Gzowski.
Painter, Poet, Mountain: After Cezanne Susan McCaslin
Quattro Books, September 2016 ISBN: 978-1-988254-23-4 $18.00 Susan McCaslin’s Painter, Poet, Mountain: After Cézanne re-enacts a journey to Aix-enProvence in 2013 where the poet found herself in a “heart-soul-mind-clench” with the post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. Her book traces how the artist from Aix-enProvence accompanied her home to the Fraser Valley outside Fort Langley, British Columbia where she gazed through his eyes to see afresh the trees and landscapes near her home. McCaslin’s poems stand within the tradition of ekphrastic poetry as both a response to and reenactment of painting. McCaslin’s poetic engagements, like the life and works of Cézanne himself, break through to a radical way of “seeing seeing.” Her book suggests how, by moving toward abstraction while being viscerally connected to the living trees and mountains of his bioregion, Cézanne helps us experience the world in all its shimmering processes. Through the liminal regions of art we enter what later physicists have called the quantum fields. Readers may be surprised to discover the impact of Cézanne’s achievement on later poets, philosophers, and writers, the enormity and enduring quality of his legacy. Read as a whole, this book suggests that Paul Cezanne was an early deep ecologist.
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The Killer Whale Who Changed the World Mark Leiren-Young Greystone Books Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Institute, September 2016 ISBN: 9781771641937 $29.95 The fascinating and heartbreaking account of the first publicly exhibited captive killer whale—a story that forever changed the way we see orcas and sparked the movement to save them. Killer whales had always been seen as bloodthirsty sea monsters. That all changed when a young killer whale was captured off the west coast of North America and displayed to the public in 1964. Moby Doll—as the whale became known—was an instant celebrity, drawing twenty thousand visitors on the one and only day he was exhibited. He died within a few months, but his famous gentleness sparked a worldwide crusade that transformed how people understood and appreciated orcas. Because of Moby Doll, we stopped fearing “killers” and grew to love and respect “orcas.” Mark is a journalist, filmmaker and author of numerous books, including Never Shoot a Stampede Queen, for which he won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and The Green Chain, which is based on his award-winning film of the same name. His article for the Walrus about Moby Doll, the first orca publicly exhibited in captivity, was a finalist for the National Magazine Award, and he won the Jack Webster award for his CBC Idea’s radio documentary Moby Doll: The Whale that Changed the World. Leiren-Young is currently finishing a feature length film documentary on Moby Doll.
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Call to Valor
M.A.C. Farrant Talonbooks, August 2016 ISBN: 9781772010077 $14.95
Gary Beck Gnome on Pig Productions, July 2016 ISBN: 1365244989 $19.99
It’s hard to worry about the future when you’re laughing at the hilarious absurdity of daily life. The days we live go by like slugs eating their way through leaves; everything changes, yet nothing changes, and the years soon accumulate. Who doesn’t read their daily horoscope, searching for guidance about what’s to come, how to live? What is life, but ordinary and special days, time passing, humour, sex, death, and love (making it all bearable)?
Call to Valor is a sweeping story of war, love and courage, as determined Americans face the war on terror, in a world of increasing nuclear threats. A dedicated doctor and a resourceful Marine join forces to prevent a terrorist group from detonating a dirty nuclear bomb in New York City. Call to Valor is a 354 page novel published through Gnome on Pig Productions and available now through all major retailers. For more information or to request a review copy, contact:
All these are repeated gestures that run through The Days, a kind of absurdist guidebook made up of ninety unconventional, very short stories collected in three tight sections. This is fiction that thinks, fiction that cuts to the chase, told with Farrant’s trademark humour and acerbic wit. Her miniatures gracefully articulate the contemporary zeitgeist: anxiety about the future coupled with absurd mundanity. Somehow, always, Farrant captures the moments that buoy us up, crystallizing the experiences keeping us from being overwhelmed while calling our attention to overwhelming truths. Let yourself be excited and delighted. Farrant’s artfully spare stories – averaging a couple of paragraphs each – offer enough food for thought (and mood) to keep you going for months. Dip in occasionally to be reminded of the strangeness of us, or read from beginning to end and immerse yourself in a slightly skewed version of reality – one in which people are frank and the world is unforgiving as it shimmers like light on water, sometimes blinding, always dazzling.
alexisallinson@gnomeonpigproductions Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks and 3 more accepted for publication. www.garycbeck.com www.facebook.com/AuthorGaryBeck
The Second Advent of Zeus
Tales of an Ex-Pat in London
Manolis Aligizakis Ekstasis Editions, July 2016 ISBN: 978-1-77171-176-0 $23.95
Janet Vickers Ekstasis Editions, May 2016 ISBN: 978-1-77171-164-7 $23.95
The poetry of Manolis Aligizakis, rich in sublime metaphors, is a pristine and unique lyrical proposal, a visionary dialogue encased in sacramental vessels of masterfully structured verses that celebrates the spiritual nature of man in poetic libations of soul tearing beauty. The Second Advent of Zeus is an outstanding book, a rare jewel in the convulse ocean of contemporary poetry, a mandatory reading for those who still believe in the ancient promise of the gods, and are brave enough to follow the poet in his mythical journey into the iridescent horizons of the unknown. - Gorka Lasa. Poet, writer, essayist and visual artist from Panama
Infinite Power, in Vickers eyes “is not a zero sum game but a journey / a stone thrown in a lake / circular ripples emanating outward” and the danger of our age is that we have lost contact with that power, made it something to possess like a personal bank account. In writing these poems she hopes for a reconnection to that sacred universal relationship.
Pat Kelly Self-published by Grove Road Publishing, December 2015 ISBN: 9780987862013 $15.00
Manolis (Emmanuel Aligizakis) is a Greek-Canadian poet and author. He’s the most prolific writer-poet of the Greek diaspora. He was recently appointed an honorary instructor and fellow of the International Arts Academy, and awarded a Master’s for the Arts in Literature. His articles, poems and short stories in both Greek and English have appeared in various magazines and newspapers in Canada, the United States and around the world. He now lives in White Rock, where he spends his time writing, gardening, traveling, and heading Libros Libertad, an unorthodox and independent publishing company which he founded in 2006 with the mission of publishing literary books. His translation George Seferis: Collected Poems was shortlisted for the Greek National Literary Awards, the highest literary recognition of Greece..
Janet Vickers’s book of poetry, entitled Infinite Power, has such an accurate title for this is an important, brave and, indeed, powerful gathering of poems. She is on a search, a compelling search, that draws the reader along with her as she questions accepted concepts, ploughs through mankind’s inhumanity and even tears nature apart in her quest for a core of hope amidst despair. - Naomi Beth Wakan, inaugural Poet Laureate of Nanaimo The thread always running throughout Janet's work is her commitment to honouring all that’s sacred, whether that might be in the world of nature or in the realm of the human heart. - Heidi Greco This is Janet Vickers’s second trade book of poems. Her first book, Impermanence was published in 2012, also by Ekstasis. Infinite Power can be ordered direct through paypal on www.ekstasiseditions.com. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the four years Pat Kelly spent in London as the “spouse of ” her husband during his defence attaché diplomatic posting, life as she knew it ceased to exist. With her sons, job, friends and cat left behind in Canada, she embarked on reinventing herself in a world that was, in many ways, above her station. Through this collection of stories on the places and people she encountered—from the naughty dinner party chef and Her Majesty the Queen to the daunting established writers’ group and the octogenarian who was hellbent on preserving the memory of a Canadian hero —Pat weaves a colourful tapestry of her reflections on the UK and travels abroad with wit, eloquence, and poignant insights.
Pat Kelly is a writer who has come full circle. Born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, she left Vancouver Island in 1973. Forty-one years later, she returned to make the Cowichan Valley her home. Pat was a community correspondent for a Winnipeg newspaper and enjoys travel writing. She is currently a member of the Cowichan Writers Group. This is her first book.
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Fall 2016 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 32
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