Monday, February 04, 2008

A/Cross Sections: New Manitoba Writing, eds. Katherine Bitney and Andris Taskans


There it goes again
wafting through my mind
that U.S. Cobra Gunship
guns fully blazing
blasting 7 holes in my rubber duck
and yes I know what happens next
I get shot by the CIA,
so please George
I’ll do anything you want
I’ll get a Stuka Dive Bomber
and bomb whatever you want
the way I Stuka dive my baby
every second night (Patrick O’Connell)
As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of regional anthologies; no matter what it is you do in your writing, there really isn’t any way to not be influenced by what is going on in one’s immediate geography (unless one is a complete recluse, which, admittedly, some writers are extremely good at). Adding to a list of impressive books over the past years is the brand-new A/Cross Sections: New Manitoba Writing (Winnipeg MB: Manitoba Writers’ Guild, 2007), edited by Katherine Bitney and Andris Taskans. If you’ve lost track of what some of the other anthologies have been, be sure to check out decalogue: ten Ottawa poets (Ottawa ON: Chaudiere Books, 2006), decalogue 2: ten Ottawa fiction writers (Ottawa ON: Chaudiere Books, 2007), Fast Forward: New Saskatchewan Poets (Regina SK: Hagios Press, 2007), The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century [see my review here], Post-Prairie: An Anthology of Poetry, Writing the Terrain: Travelling Through Alberta with the Poets, The Winnipeg Connection: Writing Lives at Mid-Century and Language Acts: Anglo-Québec Poetry, 1976 to the 21st Century [see my review of both here]. As I asked in my review of the Saskatchewan anthology, what is it about geography that compels?

Produced as a 25th anniversary celebration of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild, the strength of just what the Guild brings to the province is highlighted through ninety-one contributors (Ontario seems to be the only province in Canada without a provincial writers guild; books and organizations such as these fill me with a certain kind of envy), publishing poetry, fiction and non-fiction by contributors such as Carol Shields, Meira Cook [see my note on her last book here], Patrick Friesen, Margaret Sweatman, Dennis Cooley [see my recent piece on him here], Laurie Block, Sarah Klassen, Ariel Gordon, Smaro Kamboureli and Sylvia Legris [see my note on her last book here].

In which the Writer Reads

If I hadn’t read this line in John Newlove’s book, I wouldn’t be writing.

If I hadn’t read a line of Newlove’s in Erin Moure’s book, I wouldn’t be writing.

If I hadn’t hauled out my bike and ridden eight kilometres to the library to get out Newlove’s book, I wouldn’t be writing.

If I hadn’t worked in a branch library for five years, I wouldn’t have found this
misshelved Newlove where it was living an uncirculated life among all the Ondaatje
and I wouldn’t be writing.

If all the undergraduates hadn’t gone home to their small towns, if they hung around the library all summer, smoking cigarettes and borrowing all the Newlove, I wouldn’t be writing.

Energy equals mass times the velocity of light squared. Relativity notwithstanding,
this has nothing to do with writing. Newlove says.

If I weren’t such a liar, I would write off any horizon. (Tanis MacDonald)

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