As a creative writing instructor, I’m always curious about the different genres through which we find expression, and I’m always learning from my students: no doubt about it, speculative fiction figures a lot in their imaginations. Here’s my debut into that world, a short story “Antony’s Arboretum” published this year in Exile Edition’s Those Who Make Us: Canadian Creature, Myth, and Monster Stories…
“What resides beneath the blankets of snow, under the ripples of water, within the whispers of the wind, and between the husks of trees all across Canada? Creatures, myths and monsters are everywhere…even if we don’t always see them.
This is a unique and powerful collection of all-new, cross-genre tales that take the reader into real and imagined worlds, ranging from an encounter with the Metis creature Rugaru to trolls dissatisfied with modern life, to the demons who follow us from our parents’ countries, and to Anishinaabe myths about the creation of creeks. Eightteen emerging and award-winning authors explore the way we think about and interact with the unnatural showing how much the stories we create can teach us about what it means to be human.” –
Here’s a piece I did for the Georgia Straight back in September. These few hundred words took me three months to write, but I number them among my best work this year. Thank you for Brian Lynch for allowing me the time……
Slave of the Huns by the Hungarian writer Géza Gárdonyi, first published in 1901, brought out in English by Corvina Press in the late ’60s: the book as mysterious object, to hold, to divine. A red cover, with ink drawings by Victor C. Ambrus, the novel sat on a shelf in my father’s library up at the manse in the town of towns…”
Q: Tell me about the suite of poems that appear in Touch the Donkey. What is thecanadaproject, and how do you see the work-in-progress volume 2 extending or expanding upon the work of the first?
A: The suite of poems that appear in Touch the Donkey are excerpted from a sequence, “Bartholomew in the compound, the bees” and this suite of poems lies nestled in the second completed series from thecanadaproject, which is a book length poem, the heart of this journey bears all patterns, commonly known as Thot-J-Bap. The Touch the Donkey suite contains pieces of a collaborative work I’ve embarked on with the Governor General award winning scientist, Dr. Mark Winston: he’s given me access to his scientific work on the honey bee and he and I are working on a set of poems and prose readings that we’ve performed in Vancouver.
Thot-J-Bap is populated by a vast connection of characters, a sampling of which you will see in the excerpt included. The journey of Thot-J-Bap, over the course of decades, indeed, even, eons, explores an imaginary territory, Pacifica, loosely based on British Columbia and the Pacific North West/ Cascadia, as well as the cities of Toronto, Paris, Baghdad and Ahmedabad, and that exploration includes an investigation of various shibboleths: East v West, Empire v other, description v representation, and language in translation, the syntax of the fragment.”
Ontario poet and visual artist, Chris Turnbull, inscribes language into and on to objects, into the world around outside her rural home.
Here, a few photographs and comment-fragments about her process with poems from THOT-J-BAP:
Chris invited me to read the entire Nous-Zot chapbook into an audio file, which Chris says “over time it will ‘replace’ the birch bark pieces, because they’ll erode and the text will change or the birch will drift in the cube.
Eventually, there’ll just be birch bark again, but your voice will be there in the qr-code format.”
PJ: …Could we talk about your formative years in Surrey/New West? Specifically, when did you start writing poetry, and who were your early inspirations? I imagine living in New West, which is a stone’s throw from the Fraser River, must have some influence in terms of your notion of, well…I’ll let you take it from here.
RSS: I love that phrase, “formative years”: they seem to take the long view with me. Heh. I’ve always had this chronicle-compulsion, just didn’t realize for a long time, that my addiction to writing things down was part of a writing practice, was what defined me as a writer: images, sounds, rhythms, always these were in-coming to me and I took them, language-bits: held, rubbed, stored, taken-out again. My father reading me Mother Goose Nursery rhymes, me, a copy-cat, inventing my own. Scribbling.
So, early inspirations: fairy-tales, nursery rhymes, TV adverts, street signage, dictionaries, the sound of my parents’ speaking/arguing in English-Gujarati (my mother’s mother tongue); the sound of how Other People spoke.
New West when I grew up there, was a well-settled place in the sense of its relation to the colonial history of the province, The Royal City, and as the daughter of a United Church Minister, I settled into place, if that makes sense. My first book, children of air india, un/authorized exhibits and interjections (Nightwood Editions, 2013), explores this idea a fair bit…
And yes, always, the river: I can’t get away from it. Every time I cross The Fraser into/out of Surrey, I have to look up, look at those grey waters, effluent-filled, that deep undertow current: I grew up hearing stories about the grasp of that current, how she’d take you in…”
Renée will read your manuscript before your 45-minute meeting. At the meeting, she may provide you with suggestions about editing, how to publish your work, and how to work with editors and publishers. “