Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


Writing "Well"

Illness spoils any story that desires a certain romanticism of adventure or self-discovery, the solitary act of Manifest Destiny. Many of history's beloved novels have entertained (and sometimes genuinely explored) what it means to have lost a sense of wellness, or be on a path towards self-destruction--in the sense of an existential, Sartrean nausea. But it becomes much more difficult to discuss the topic of physical destruction or decay. To be unwell and desire a sense of physical/psychological stability and balance above all makes the desire to champion a countercultural lifestyle seem petty. Authors might seek to change the shape of literature, but how can the literature shape the way people live, or can live?

A Day in the Life

Rise, water and fruit, spend about twenty minutes adjusting my spiritual frequency to the world. Think about the day and what it will entail. Recalibrate against the chaos if I've had strange dreams. Dream up what I'd like the rest of the day to look like. Sometimes I choose to read positive affirmations and meditations to begin my day, but it's most likely poetry (though arguably such kinds of writings are very much the same). Reading something that's not the daily news or social media helps refresh the mind and act as a reminder of the importance of seizing the day. Otherwise I think it would be mighty difficult to get one's creative gears flowing.

Happy Birthday, Jack

I would be beside myself if I didn't take a moment to write a birthday note to the late Jack Kerouac, who was born on this day (March 12, 1922–October 21, 1969) and to whom I owe much praise.

Yes of course his infamous On the Road affected the hearts and minds of many generations of young Western kids (including my own). I loved that he was the curious balance of enlightened and derailed, quiet and loud. I wrote about him in my first full-length poetry collection (Ex Nihilo, 2010) or more precisely, about meeting his taxi driving old friend who I was shocked to meet and who kindly drove me to his grave in the rain in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Writing as a Way "In"

I think many writers would agree that, in the beginning stages when we first pick up the pen, writing is a "way out" for us. It offers something therapeutic, or in more dramatic cases, the promise of salvation. Of course the reasons writers write are all so infinite, though it's hard to deny that the act itself is cathartic.

Nuance vs. Notoriety

For the longest time, I’ve been of the strong belief of the writerly life as associated with an either/or mentality: concision and painstaking precision, or, as writer Jack Kerouac would put it in his "Rules for Spontaneous Prose", "Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy."

Rethinking a Room of One’s Own

A room of one’s own, Virginia Woolf once famously wrote, is a necessary part of being able to write successfully for women, who could often not find such a thing, being loyal to a certain level of constant domesticity for others, a constant state of being-for-others. As I write this post, as not only a woman but a woman of colour, in this room of my own, a kaleidoscope of privileges take shape in my mind—I have a place/space to stay, forms of support, inhabit a “safe” part of town, do not endure many disturbances apart from regular duties of tending to the quotidian things; I can even play music (softly or loud) if it suits or fuels the writing; or I can take leisure in silence. It is a privilege to name any of these things.

Job Shadowing: Writer, Editor, and Artist Malcolm Sutton in Conversation about his Novel and Many Types of Work

I first met Malcolm Sutton as the fiction editor at BookThug. We worked closely on my book of short stories, and I admired how much Malcolm strove to understand my worldview and the thinking that went into the book. He also designs the majority of BookThug’s fiction covers, and first became involved with them as a book designer.

Why Some of the Best Writers I Know Aren't Publishing

Some of the best writers I know are relatively unpublished. They might have a story out here or there, or maybe write professionally in another genre, but they aren’t actively trying to pursue a publisher for a longer work. We all talk a lot about publishing -- it’s this thing that hangs over all writers, as either a goal, a reminder of our failures, perhaps a reminder of our successes, or an oppressive system we are trying to opt out of.


Writing Hangovers Are Denim on Denim: Part 2 of Four New Writers to Watch

I posted the first half of my interview with four exciting writers-to-watch, Noor Naga, Sofia Mostaghimi, Kristel Jax, and Faith Arkorful, earlier today. We talked about writing into dark places, what their subject matter is, when these emerging writers first started to get serious about their writing, and life rage.

Tiny Rooms of One's Own: Part 1 of Four New Writers to Watch - Faith Arkorful, Sofia Mostaghimi, Noor Naga, and Kristel Jax.

As I developed my writing over the years, I had many teachers and people in the community support my work and offer me encouragement. It’s always been important for me to give back and encourage talent in emerging writers as I see it. It’s why I started the Emerging Writers Reading Series, and it will always be part of my writing life -- giving back support to those who gave it to me and to those that need it.

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