about doing the work

New THOT-J-BAP poems in Touch The Donkey

image from wikipedia.org

Delighted that new THOT-J-BAP poems will be appearing in Touch The Donkey, a poetry series published by rob mclennan.

The forthcoming tenth issue is out now and features new writing by Meredith Quartermain, Mathew Timmons, Luke Kennard, Shane Rhodes and Amanda Earl.

An interview in the Touch the Donkey supplement will run the week of Sept. 22

Essay fragments

“So, what is thecanadaproject, again?” About occurrence and place

Searching for Pauline Johnson
Searching for Pauline Johnson

About E. Pauline Johnson ~ Tekahionwake

‘The Lost Island’ is a response to…her story, first published in…is itself a reflection of…”

~ Wayde Compton, The Outer Harbour

“Her biographers narrate the life of Pauline Johnson as a ‘dual life’ and in this way ‘solve’ the problem of her life story.”

~ Stephen Osborne, GEIST 96, Spring 2015, “Insurgency: history brushed against the grain”, see page 10.

I lay out my scraps of research – the haunting trees, Johnson’s walks to…”

~ Meredith Quartermain, I, Bartleby, “Moccasin Box”, p. 106.

Featured interviews, thecanadaproject interviews

An Interview with Meredith Quartermain, Part 4

The fourth and final part of my interview with Meredith Quartermain, whose new short story collection, I, Bartleby, launched April 23rd.


I Bartleby by Meredith QuartermainBook Design

RS: The book cover and book design: beautiful. The cover art from your own collection, entitled “Haunted House,” by Susan Bee. I am reminded of a long ago article in Canadian Dimension about a Quebec psychoanalyst: “A human being is a haunted house!” What can you tell us about the artist and her work? How did you come to choose this painting and this particular detail? 

MQ: Susan Bee has been painting since the 60s in New York City where she lives. She is a brilliant colourist. Her works are readily available for view on-line, and I highly recommend them. I have been following her work since the 80s. Some of her early works involved the iconography of women. She used cutouts from magazines and painted around them. I found these pieces very absorbing and intriguing, and used one of them on the cover of Recipes from the Red Planet. Her work is full of wit and drollery, yet serious at the same time.

I loved The Haunted House as soon as I saw it at her opening in New York. It was a couple of years before I thought I could afford to buy it and did. I totally agree with the human as a haunted house. I, Bartleby definitely explores some of my many ghosts, particularly literary ones. Continue reading “An Interview with Meredith Quartermain, Part 4”

Featured interviews, thecanadaproject interviews

An Interview with Meredith Quartermain, Part 3

Part 3 of my interview with Meredith Quartermain, whose new short story collection, I, Bartleby, launched April 23rd.


On Language  I Bartleby by Meredith Quartermain

RS: There’s a tone established here in these stories: whimsical, light on the surface, with a cadence that pulls the reader in deeper. This tone comes to me as if a fable. For instance, the first story of the first section, seems both a light drawing room piece and also, at the same time, inextricably linked to the Bible (KJV), and perhaps, Cosmos, by Carl Sagan. And of course, Herman Melville. The language of these stories is at once microscopically precise and, within that density, open to interpretation. In both style and content, one moves from the particular to the universal, and deftly! Each story in each of the five sections is but a mere handful of pages. Please comment.

MQ: You’ve certainly hit on something that fascinated me as I wrote these pieces – how to keep the storytelling voice perched on the edge of literal sense and figurative sense. What’s at stake in these stories is not so much issues like will she get her man or will she have revenge, but rather how do we make sense of humans in a world they are rapidly destroying? Continue reading “An Interview with Meredith Quartermain, Part 3”

thecanadaproject interviews

An Interview with Meredith Quartermain, Part 2

Part 2 of my interview with Meredith Quartermain, whose new short story collection, I, Bartleby, launched April 23rd.

Read part 1 of the interview HERE.

I Bartleby by Meredith QuartermainInfluence

RS: What examples in literature, and in the world of text, did you turn to when writing these stories? I’m thinking here of those mentioned outright in titles and story-references such as Christine Stewart, Malcolm Lowry, Robert Walser (e.g. The Dinner Party), Robin Blaser, Pauline Johnson, and many others (including W.G. Sebald, of whom many speak, but I’ve not yet read)…but also those sensed beneath the surface…page-haunters, if you will: Proust, Gertrude Stein, as well as Lydia Davis, perhaps even Fred Wah, In Diamond Grill!? (for instance, in the way that the first line of each story is also, in part, its title). Syntax, chiseled to perfection, allows your stories to flow as if seamlessly from the tangle and specific to the meta-fictional and perhaps even, to the meta-physical!

MQ: About 10 or 12 years ago I discovered the work of Swiss writer Robert Walser. The philosopher Giorgio Agamben praised Walser highly, so I began reading his work, which includes several novels and many short pieces that seem to blend autobiography and poetry with fiction – playful, musing pieces, sometimes very poignant, sometimes quite poetic. Walser was also highly regarded by Franz Kafka and Robert Musil, and he has some of the same droll irony in his work as those writers. I read everything I could get by Walser, and this reading led to my book Recipes from the Red Planet, a collection of short narratives that run the gamut from prose poems to flash fiction.

The formal possibilities opened by Walser and other writers mentioned above gave me the widest possible scope for short narrative. However, more recently I immersed myself in the work of W.G. Sebald, a marvelous writer who seamlessly blends autobiography with fiction and essay. For instance his Rings of Saturn: An English Pilgrimage makes a Suffolk walking tour into an episodic novel, exploring encounters with people and places along the way, as well as historical connections to the landscape. These opened the way for the more autobiographical pieces in I, Bartleby, such as “Scriptorium” and “Moccasin Box” (which follows Sebald’s practice of including photographs counterpointing the text).

I also read the whole of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, which describes itself as part novel, part essay. And yes, the short quirky narratives of Lydia Davis have been crucial to my imagination of formal possibilities. Her novel The End of the Story is an amazing blend of autobiography, fiction and metafiction.

RS: There is a vast expanse to I, Bartleby and the book is “only” 112 pages of “story.” Can you share your thoughts about how these stories took shape (their form)?  Continue reading “An Interview with Meredith Quartermain, Part 2”