Friday, January 30, 2015


I have a poem in the latest issue of FreeFall Magazine, which is based out of Calgary and edited by Micheline Maylor and Ryan Stromquist.

For the Winter 2015 issue, I submitted a text/image combo, which consisted of my "Gilly: gaijin/Galician/ghost owl" text and Darryl Joel Berger's "Claws Owl" image, and even though FreeFall doesn't often use images, they made room.

These texts are a continuation of the poems in the second section of Stowaways, which are known to me as 'the weremummy poems.' That is, poems about women for whom having babies and becoming parents are perhaps the slightest of their transformations.

Lots of other good stuff in this issue, including poems by Norma Dunning and Lauren Carter and non-fiction by Robert Boschman.

Thomas Wharton also has fiction in this issue, which is sort of fun, because I just finished the first book in his YA fantasy trilogy The Perilous Realm. I've been eyeballing his novel Icefields for aaaages.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Reprint: Writer's Block

Back in September, I was in Calgary, attending the Under Western Skies conference at Mount Royal.

In addition to the two poetry panels I was invited to participate in, there were panel discussions and keynotes filling the days and then performances most evenings. And there had been a massive and unseasonable snowfall the first day of the conference, which was overwhelming most of Calgary's trees, which were still in leaf.

I would drive my rental car every morning and every evening through all this snow, around the curbside downed trees, whilst attempting Calgary's freeways.

All of which was good but tiring.

I'd set up the interview with Calgary poet Emily Ursuliak for her CJSW radio show Writers' Block, which meant driving to an entirely new area of town. And boomtown Calgary traffic as well as my shock that it would take more than a half hour to get anywhere (which is a very Winnipeg idea...) almost made me late.

Once I got there, once I'd found parking and also the building where I was meant to meet Emily, it was lovely to have a chance to think on the ways Stowaways moved. To describe it but also think on what I was trying to do in the poems.

It was interesting, as always, to see the book from the point of view of another person. But it was especially nice to see it from Emily's POV. She's bright and bold and even though she's fairly young, she's spent a lot of time in Calgary's literary community.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Out-of-Town-Authors: Linden MacIntyre

Winnipeg Free Press—PRINT EDITION
By Ariel Gordon

The great majority of Canada's writers work in another field. They've got a full-time or part-time job that they write around.

Laurence Hill, for instance, was a journalist for many years before settling down to writing novels full time, including the critically acclaimed The Book of Negroes. Closer to home, David Bergen was a high school English teacher.

But Linden MacIntyre, the author of six books, including the Giller Award-winning The Bishop's Man (2009), is as equally known for his broadcast journalism as he is for his books. He co-hosted CBC's the fifth estate for 24 years, which earned him 10 Gemini Awards and an international Emmy.

Freshly retired from CBC, MacIntyre is touring in support of his most recent book, a novel called Punishment. He recently spoke with Winnipeg writer Ariel Gordon.

Q. What do you want people to know about Punishment?

A. It's a story about justice and how fear and prejudice corrupt the search for truth; and the peril of ascribing moral qualities, like good and evil, to people as opposed to the deeds that people do.

Q: Now that you've got four novels and two books of non-fiction under your proverbial belt, what have you learned about writing? What have you learned about your own process?

A. That I'll never really be "an author" in my own mind, that the process is unbearably subjective, which means that it's impossible to ever know objectively if what I'm writing at any given moment has any merit, and that an author is only as good as his/her next book. This may well be a personal idiosyncrasy, a hangover from journalism where your ass is on the line every time you tell a story. I live with it.

Q. What, for you, are the differences between investigative journalism and 'creative writing,' be it literary fiction, memoir, or true crime?

A. I believe it's all part of the same process—commentary on reality, how we live, why we do things good and bad, how we cope with the surprises, why people can resemble gods one day and the lowest forms of life the next. The common imperative in any story is that it be relevant to everyone who reads it whether or not the reader likes it or agrees with it.

Q. You retired from the CBC in 2014 after 38 years, with cuts looming and allegations mounting against both Jian Ghomeshi and the CBC. But can you tell me about the moments you were most proud of, as a writer and broadcaster?

A. Too many moments to recount. Front-line CBC reporters are, on the whole, dedicated and rigorous. Recent "moments"—coverage of the shootout in the Centre Block of Parliament; the Ghomeshi scandal, from breaking developments to the in-depth critical analysis by The Fifth Estate. The enduring satirical excellence of Rick Mercer and the team of pranksters at This Hour has 22 Minutes. CBC's coverage of major sports events was, in my opinion as a viewer, superior to the products that now replace it, Grey Cup football, major hockey tournaments. I'm proud of CBC Radio, all of it. And I believe Radio Canada, our francophone sister ship, is vital to the cultural and political integrity of the country.

Q. Tell me about the hubbub after The Bishop's Man won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2009.

A. The Giller, more than any other prize, brings an extraordinary amount of attention to an author and a book. It creates an instant flash of awareness and a bump in sales. In the long run, both book and author must live up to the expectations generated by the prize and the publicity, which means a lot of pressure for a while. I didn't have a hope of winning, so I was unready for the starburst when I did. Fortunately, many years in the media made it possible to keep my cool, but it was still at times unnerving—like when the Globe and Mail showed up to write a profile on my eleven-year-old Toyota SUV.

Q. What are you reading right now? What are you writing right now?

A. Reading David Benmozgis' book The Betrayers and a lot of non-fiction about a foreign conflict, which will be the backdrop for what I hope will be my next novel (which I'm already writing).

Linden MacIntyre will be appearing at McNally Robinson Booksellers on Monday, Jan. 26, to discuss and sign his latest novel Punishment. The event begins at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Muskwa-Kechika Artist Retreat

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I’ll be one of the mentors for the Muskwa-Kechika Artist Retreat in BC's Northern Rockies August 9-16. Which is the best kind of fun I can think of….

More details later, but for more info, see:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Getting around

Clockwise, from top left: A screencap of Wolseley, from Hathaway's Guide and Birds-Eye Map of Winnipeg (1911); Calgary poet & editor Ryan Stromquist took Stowaways to the British Virgin Isles for Xmas! ; My aunt in Sudbury sent me this 1977 full-colour mushroom field guide. Look who's listed as a consultant... ; My dear friend Tessa send me this seen-reading-Stowaways pic when she was in Toronto putting together Rogers' NHL studios; An afternoon at UMP was spent drinking green tea and proofing Life Among the Qallunaat, freshly-sharpened pencil in hand.

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I've been neglecting the blog of late. But it's been a great couple of weeks for texts moving in and out of my hands. Books have arrived in the mail, my book has been photographed everywhere but Winnipeg, and I've been collecting and poring over research materials for my urban forest non-fiction.

Despite illness and general lousy busy-ness, we had a great holiday. Lots of time as duos and trios, lots of alone time. Good activities. And just enough family time.

As of January 5th, I'm back at work at UMP. And I was awfully glad to be back, even if I could probably have coasted on at home for months and months, writing and thinking and refusing to leave the house when it was cold.

But I like my co-workers and I like the work and it's good to see other people. Besides M and Aa, I mean.

And I've got a few new projects on the go. Which is a good way to begin a new year, even if, like me, you don't believe in resolutions.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Reprint: Finding a Voice

So Bruce Kauffman recorded my October 30 reading in Kingston with Patricia Young and Darryl Joel Berger. He aired the readings in the second hour of the December 26 edition of his CFRC 101.9fm show Finding a Voice.

The program also also included readings by Wanda Praamsma, Dave Pratt, Tim Murphy, and Lyle Merriam.
(Patricia and Darryl's readings aired in the first hour of the program and so appeared in a different podcast, which you can find here.)

Thanks to Bruce for being there...

Monday, December 29, 2014

Reprint: Canadian Poetries

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I nearly forgot! The inestimable Kimmy Beach reviewed Stowaways for Canadian Poetries just before the Xmas descended!

This is the third review to date, after Jonathan Ball's for the Winnipeg Free Press and Mark Sampson's for his Free-Range Reading.

It should go without saying, but: my thanks to Kimmy and Shawna Lemay for all the good work they do.