Looking back and looking forward

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2016 has been a pretty rough year for a lot of reasons and for a lot of people. It’s hard to stay hopeful and grateful when there is so much to be genuinely sorry about, but I am trying. I have a lot to be grateful about this past year. The publication of Boobs: Women Explore What it Means to Have Breasts with Caitlin Press, who have been incredibly supportive, and the amazing strength and intelligence of everyone who submitted writing and contributed to the conversation. The publication of Four Portraits (co-authored/illustrated with Laura Ritland) with the generous JackPine Press. The support of many literary journals, including The Antigonish Review, Event Magazine, and The New QuarterlyAll of the writers and readers and audience members of Swoon. The Canada Council for the Arts, for the grant that’s enabled me to spend my time looking at, thinking about, and writing poems about birds. The many conversations I’ve enjoyed with fellow artists and nature lovers about art and creativity and making the world a better place. My students. My colleagues. My friends. My family. I know a lot of fierce, wonderful, smart people who give the world more love and care and who give me hope that we can make a difference.

I’ll be posting more in the New Year about forthcoming publications and projects, but for now I’ll leave you with this photograph of the flock of American Goldfinches who have been hanging out in the park nearest my new home. Their plumages are not as vibrant as they are during the summer (mating) months, but to my eye (and mind and heart) they are still cheery and lovely.

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Winning poem of the 2016 Occasional Verse Contest now published in The New Quarterly (Issue 140)

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Friends, I know we’re all feeling blue right now. But may I share something happy? My copies of The New Quarterly (issue 140) arrived. This issue contains my poem, “Wedding Anniversary,” which won their 2016 Occasional Verse Contest.  My thanks to Kim Jernigan and all the jurors of the contest. I’m so so grateful to have had the careful reading of such fine poetry lovers, and I hope this issue of the magazine finds it in the hands of many more poetry lovers.

LitFest Alberta 2016 in sunny (!) Edmonton in October 2016

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BOOBS_cover_alu_modalcoverI had a wonderful time in Edmonton for LitFest 2016! Not only was the weekend full of fantastic conversation about storytelling, Edmonton’s weather cooperated and it was clear and sunny and beautiful for my entire visit. I’m so grateful to LitFest and Caitlin Press for coordinating my attendance and the presentation of Boobs: Women Explore What it Means to Have BreastsIt’s such a pleasure to be able to be an active part of the discussion around the book and to see people breaking down the barriers to honest, open conversation around the realities of living in the body.

I had the pleasure of being a part of two panels. The first event, on Friday October 21, I had the opportunity to talk about what is “normal” with Betsy Warland, Camilla Gibb, and Ruby Remenda Swanson. We had a great turn out for the lunchtime event, and I’m so grateful for LitFest and the folk at CBC for hosting us! Obviously, pick up a copy of Boobs if you haven’t already, but also check out the other excellent books represented at the panel. Betsy Warland’s Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas is a gorgeous, lyrical book about personhood and living in the world. Camilla Gibb’s This is Happy investigates family from the other side of “normal.” Ruby Remenda Swanson’s memoir, A Family Outingtells her story of mothering a gay son and the need for activism. All the writers challenged my heart and my mind and I’m grateful for my time with them.

On Saturday the 22, Betsy Warland and I partnered up again, this time to talk about body politics and the process of writing, editing, and structuring a book. We were lucky enough to have Ruby with us again, this time as our host.body-politics-litfest-panel-ruth-reading

My thanks to everyone who came out to the Saturday panel, too. It was a wonderful, warm audience who offered great questions and conversation on the books.

I had the chance to hang out and catch a couple of the other festival events, which were all excellent too. My congratulations to Fawnda Mithrush, Talia Davies,  and everyone at LitFest for putting together such an engaging, successful festival that brings writers and readers together. I hope to be back soon!

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From left to right: Ruby Remenda Swanson, Besty Warland, and Ruth Daniell

 

Presenting Boobs anthology at 2016 LitFest Alberta in Edmonton Oct 21 & 22

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litfestSo! This is something I’ve been looking forward to awhile. I have the pleasure of being on two panels as part of ListFest Alberta near the end of October. I’ll be in conversation with some smart writers from across the country, discussing societal expectations, the writing and editing process, and what it means to live in the body. I’ll be there with Boobs: Women Explore What It Means to Have Breasts, but that’s not the only reason you should come. Lots of fantastic books and their writers and editors and publishers will be there. You can check out the full line-up of events on the LitFest website.

You can catch me at two panels:

CONVERSATION@NOON: NO SUCH NORMAL on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21 at 12:00pm

BODY POLITICS on  SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22 at 12pm

Come and hang out with me, Edmonton! I’m excited!

Two Poems in Event Magazine Issue 45/2

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EVENT 45/2 is now out and the issue contains two of my poems. Check it out!

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Waiting for Spring, or Something” is a poem about depressingly rainy winters, faith, doubt, teaching children, and the nature of happiness on earth. “Love and Paradise Lost” is about angels and sex. Both poems are from my working manuscript about fairy tales and the contemporary search for happily ever after. (If you’re keeping track, that’s a separate manuscript from the one about birds.)

The issue also has non-fiction by the wonderful Jane Campbell (who performed at Swoon once upon a time). I’ve also loved many of the other stuff I’ve read in the issue so far, so definitely pick up your copy and give it a read.

Speech Arts Adjudicator for the 2017 Penticton Kiwanis Music, Dance, & Speech Arts Festival

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penticton-festivalI’m pleased to pass on the news that I have agreed to be the adjudicator for all the speech arts and drama sessions of the 2017 Penticton Kiwanis Music, Dance, & Speech Arts Festival! The exact dates will be confirmed as we get closer to spring 2017, but you can find more information through the Festival’s website. It promises to be a fun festival.

After nearly five years of teaching at the Bolton Academy of Spoken Arts in Vancouver–and helping to run and adjudicate the school’s festivals and exams–I’m excited to get a glimpse into the growing speech arts community that’s here in the Okanagan!

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2016 Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest

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I’m thrilled and humbled to pass on the news that the kind folk at The New Quarterly have announced me as the winner of their 2016 Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest. I have admired TNQ’s Occasional Verse contest for quite a few years and I’m incredibly excited to count myself among its winners. I love occasional verse of all types!

The poem chosen, “Wedding Anniversary,” is from my current working manuscript about birds, for which I am pleased to (belatedly) announce I was awarded a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts in support of its writing. If you were curious about what I’m going to be doing this fall, that’s your answer–writing poems about birds!

Fun, sun, and books at the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts

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I had the huge pleasure of being part of the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts from August 11-14 in gorgeous Sechelt, BC. It was definitely one of the highlights of my summer (and that’s including the glimpse I got of lazuli bunting at the end of July–such gorgeous birds!).

On Saturday, August 11, Lorna Crozier led Rebecca Hendry, Janine Alyson Young and I in discussion about Boobs and all four of us read from the anthology, too. Over 400 people showed up to be probably the best audience for which I’ve ever had the privilege of performing. I was really moved by the thoughtfulness of the audience member’s questions during our Q & A session, and even more moved by the number of women who found me after the presentation to share their own stories with me.

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At the author signing table, from left to right: Lorna Crozier, Rebecca Hendry, Janine Alyson Young, and Ruth Daniell. Photo credit: Alexander Laidlaw

Once again, a huge thank you to everyone at Caitlin Press (Vici! Mike! Jake!) for believing in the book, and a huge thank you to the remarkable Jane Davidson and all the organizers of the SCFWA. The festival was an enormously positive experience.IMG_9223

I was able to be an audience member for the majority of the festival other events, and also had the delightful opportunity to hang out and get to know a number of my fellow authors. I loved Lorna Crozier’s other event with wildlife photographer and environmental advocate Ian McAllister, in celebration of their collaborative book, The Wild in You: Voices from the Forest and the SeaMark Winston’s talk on Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive was also just as wonderful as I had anticipated it to be (bee)! I’m also still feeling incredibly grateful to the warmth of all the more established writers with whom I got to spend time, including Laurence Hill and Madeleine Thien, both of whom also had very thought-provoking and generous presentations on their work.

And Sechelt is a beautiful place. I love the west coast. I left the place feeling renewed, inspired, and excited to get back down to the practice of writing.

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Photo credit: Candace Johnston

Boobs at the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts

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I’m so excited to arrive in Sechelt tomorrow for the beginning of the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts.

I’m looking forward to sharing the stage at the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Word with Lorna Crozier, Janine Alyson Young and Rebecca Hendry for the Boobs event on August 13 at 1:00!

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Interview about Boobs anthology on CBC Radio One

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I had the opportunity to talk to Candy on her CBC Radio One program, The Candy Palmater Show, on Wednesday (July 13, 2016). I had a blast! If you didn’t catch it on air, you can listen to it from the CBC website!

The Candy Palmater Show July 13 2016

My thanks to everyone at CBC for their interest, and for all the listeners who tuned in!