Friday, June 03, 2016

U of Alberta writers-in-residence interviews: Tim Bowling (2010-11)

For the sake of the fortieth anniversary of the writer-in-residence program (the longest lasting of its kind in Canada) at the University of Alberta, I have taken it upon myself to interview as many former University of Alberta writers-in-residence as possible [see the ongoing list of writers here]. Seethe link to the entire series of interviews (updating weekly) here.

Tim Bowling’s 13th collection of poems, The Duende of Tetherball, will appear in the fall of 2016, and his 5th novel, The Heavy Bear, will appear in the spring of 2017.

He was writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta during the 2010-11 academic year.

Q: When you began your residency, you’d been publishing books for about fifteen years. Where did you feel you were in your writing? What did the opportunity mean to you?

A: Time. Time to think, to write, to feel validated as a working author (and a big part of the validation, of course, was the cold, hard cash). At the time, I had a number of projects on the go, was highly motivated creatively, but also highly stressed financially. So the opportunity was an absolute godsend.

Q: Were you solely working to further and complete various projects, or did you see your time as more of an opportunity to expand your repertoire?

A: Both, really. I’m usually finishing projects while others are incubating. That’s been my process from the start, but it’s intensified over the past decade. During the U of A residency, I was completing a book of poems and writing the draft of a novel (mostly, though, I was working with other writers on their work – that’s usually what a WIR does, as you know).

Q: How did you engage with students and the community during your residency?

A: Invitations to classrooms (including at a high school), but mostly writers with manuscripts contacted me by e-mail to arrange a meeting in my office.

Q: Was this your first residency?

A: My third, but my first of such length.

Q: How does your experience there compare to other residencies you’ve done?

Q: What do you see as your biggest accomplishment while there? What had you been hoping to achieve?

A: A great deal more money. Otherwise similar.

Q: Looking back on the experience now, how do you think it impacted on your work?

A: It bought me time to write without the usual level of financial anxiety.

Q: The bulk of writers-in-residence at the University of Alberta have been writers from outside the province. As an Edmonton-based writer, how did it feel to be acknowledged locally through the position?

A: Yeah, that was a fantastic part of it. But, to be really clear, Edmonton has been incredibly welcoming and supportive of me as a writer right from the beginning. And the U of A is a big part of that. I owe this city and its institutions a great deal.

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