Tuesday, July 23, 2024

what we did on our summer staycation, (part two,


[see the first part of our travels here] Two days (again) at Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls, where I hobbled around in my boot, protecting my still-healing broken foot. Where I was unable to go into the water, which allowed a bit more time with notebook, pen; with reading.

Mother-in-law met us there, with six year old nephew in tow, which allowed for some good cousin visits (Christine's brother moving from England to Halifax this summer, which should allow some more-often cousin visits, perhaps). Our young ladies don't get to see any of them that often [although we were in London not long ago, where our young ladies enjoyed a good handful of cousin days].

Day two included a visit to Christine's great-uncle Charlie in Thorold, to see how he's been keeping. On the way back, catching a freighter through the Welland Canal: That boat is so long! Aoife declared. It must be a million Aoifes! (Christine looked it up: apparently "one million Aoifes" is equivalent to 232 metres).

The children, Christine and Oma even played laser tag (Rose came in fourth place, naturally). We all played a round of mini-putt golf. I sat on the step with notebook and reading material during both evenings, and caught a visit (again) from the local skunk, who toddled by both nights (and even the next morning). He was uninterested in whatever it was I was doing. Before we left, both young ladies and nephew their faces painted.

Back in Picton another few days, we landed just in time to catch the latest PEP Rally at the bookstore, curated by Leigh Nash and Andrew Faulkner of Assembly Press (Christine reads at same in September, by the way), with readings by Sneha Madhavan-Reese, Spencer Gordon and Matthew Tierney! What are the odds? I don't even recall the last time I heard either Spencer or Matthew read.

Curious to start going through Spencer's latest, and I haven't even seen Matthew's yet. And did you know that novelist Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer lives rather close? Was good to see her again (we thought the last time we'd seen each other was at the final Scream in High Park in Toronto, which would have been more than a decade ago).

And, once back at father-in-law's place (where we'd deposited the young ladies, just prior to heading to the reading), another three days of attending them, poolside. Another three days of reading, although we did manage a dinner, just the two of us. Up on a hill, way way up above the water. Did you know a small lake in those hills? And a brewery? A view along the water's edge to nearly-Kingston, nearly-Napanee. Point north, where Roblin Mills, or where my birth mother lives. Point east, where the wind farm sits on the horizon. Point east, where a tower sits, near the town of Bath.


In Picton, where the young ladies saw a handful of turtles along the water's edge, and Rose named one "Reginald," taking a forty-minute video (with my phone) of her new best friend and his adventures. Where they sat at the water's edge.

And then, Sunday afternoon, back to Ottawa. Aoife remains, spending some solo time with gran'pa and his wife for a few days, whereas Rose a day-camp began Monday morning.


Monday, July 22, 2024

R Kolewe, A Net of Momentary Sapphire

 

38.

Not as if starting an inventory like Perec
(notepad, pencil, stack of dishes, gloves, the cat)
(again I’m lying) but overlap or fold or

I haven’t understood a thing.
Heard what I wanted flowers I don’t know.
Word cuttings in knotted lines & gaps.

The latest from Toronto poet R Kolewe is A Net of Momentary Sapphire (Vancouver BC: Talonbooks, 2023), a collection that “offers three closely related poetic sequences, random rearrangements of a poignant but obsessively recurrent source text – streams of consciousness in which no stable self can be elucidated.” There aren’t that many Canadian poets these days overtly working in the tradition of the long poem – Vancouver poets Stephen Collis [see my review of his latest here] and Renée Sarojini Saklikar, certainly – and Kolewe has been feeling out the boundaries of formal innovation across the long poem form for some time now, from his Afterletters (Book*hug, 2014), Inspecting Nostalgia (Talonbooks, 2017) and The Absence of Zero (Bookhug Press, 2021) [see my review of such here], as well as through a handful of chapbooks. There are even fewer Canadian poets working so deeply and through such lengthy works via the recombinant—although works by Grant Wilkins, Gregory Betts, Margaret Christakos [see my review of her latest here] and Sonnet L’Abbé [see my review of her recombinant project reworking Shakespeare’s sonnets here] certainly come to mind.

Across three numbered parts, three separate sequences—“PART ONE: The foretaste of a vision, but never the vision itself,” “PART TWO: Like the noises alive people wear” (part of which landed previously as an above/ground press chapbook) and “PART THREE: Beginning again & again is a natural thing even when there is a series”—Kolewe extends a sequence of collage-thoughts, writing a moment, another moment and a further moment in a lengthy, continuous string of gestures. “I can’t write what I really cant. / Remember leave things out I am like bees,” he writes, in the fifth part of the one hundred and twenty numbered sections of the second sequence, “That’s the real thing is what I said I said. // Ah, but then we would be come more than / modern, & death / always so contemporary.” Two pages further, part seven writes:

Rework this as there’s no joy here
& not enough voices no long poem containing
history –

too many ways to divide all these pages & letters & elegies
archaic forms of life unchanged by notebooks or photographs
or beauty unnameable recognized –

If literary writing can be considered a kind of study, which I deeply think it is, Kolewe is one of our more thoughtful contemporary practitioners, allowing a wildly diverse series of threads to weave through his deceptively-straightforward lyric collage. As part forty-eight, held in the second cluster of the second section, reads: “Rework this as there’s no joy here / & not enough voices no long poem containing / any vision or revision of history – [.]” Through A Net of Momentary Sapphire, Kolewe examines lyric thinking, recombinant works and the long poem through the very form of the long poem, seeking to examine critically from the inside. “If there were a poem that made this / clear I would copy it here.” he writes, to open part ninety-two, “I can’t / say if that’s true but I want it to be.”

 

Sunday, July 21, 2024

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Jenny Irish

Jenny Irish is the author of the hybrid poetry collections Common Ancestor (Black Lawrence, 2017) and Tooth Box (Spuyten Duyvil, 2021), the short story collection I Am Faithful (Black Lawrence, 2019), the chapbook Lupine (Black Lawrence, 2023) and most recently Hatch (Northwestern University Press, 2024). She teaches creative writing at Arizona State University and facilitates free community workshops every summer.

1 - How did your first book or chapbook change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

Truthfully, my first book didn't really change my life. All of my books have been small, and I've written them because I wanted to without any expectations. I don't want to lose the pleasure I have in writing, and I'm also realistic. The vast majority of poetry books don't create any kind of visible stir, though they have their dedicated readers.

Publishing with Black Lawrence Press--more so than having a book in the world--was the biggest change, because I suddenly had a supportive group of people rallying behind me as a writer. This includes both the staff at Black Lawrence and my incredibly dear pressmates. Having a second book opened more professional opportunitys because it gave me the qualifications to apply to teaching positions. It's also been true that the more I've published, the more interest there's been in my writing.

Change is natural, I think. Writing changes over time--broadens or narrows--as a person figures out what it is that they want to do and can do with their own work. I'm all for experimenting and trying new things, but I'm at a point where I've figured out how I'm most comfortable writing. In the past--back in school and when I was first teaching--when someone said that they didn't understand my work or that they couldn't connect with it, it would make me doubt what I was doing. Now, I don't feel that. There're readers for every book, and books for every reader.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?

True story! When I was little, one of my greatest entertainments was listening to a recording of Robert Frost reciting "The Witch of Coös," and in the town library there was an elaborate tableau of "The Death and Burial of Cock Robin" that I loved desperately. I feel like I had an excellent introduction to poetry. I knew those beautiful haunted pieces before anything else.

I think those early loves have contributed to why my writing often falls into hybrid space. Some people have described my most recent book, Hatch, as a novella in linked flash fiction pieces and others have described it as prose poetry. (It was published as a poetry collection.)
 
3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
I'm so much faster at writing than revising! Initial writing comes quickly--I scribble things everywhere on everything when I have an idea--but getting to a final draft is much slower. I don't plan projects. I just write and that often means I find out that there are important pieces missing when I start to put the pieces I have together. I'm also dyslexic and that contributes to a lot of necessary editing. It's a slow process, because I have to listen to my work read back to me by the computer. My eyes will just skip right over my errors on the page.

I'm so happy for those writers who just love revision, because it's so important.

4 - Where does a poem or work of prose usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
I know, very loosely, the story of the book that I'm working on, but I don't know any specifics until I write them. My books come together piece by piece. My writing is associative so writing one piece often activates another. Usually, a piece starts because of something fascinating (or awful) that I've heard or seen.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I haven't had an awful lot of opportunities to read publicly. I don't really enjoy being focused on, but it's always very nice to be asked to share your work! I was invited  to be part of a reading and discussion with Eileen Myles that was held in the living room of Virginia G. Piper Center (a space where I feel very at home), and that was such a positive experience. Public reading is something that I'd like to get better at. I do enjoy going to readings. It's always really interesting to hear authors reading (or performing) their own work. I heard Venita Blackburn read from How to a Wrestle a Girl, and it was so unexpected and totally captivating. The creative writing students there were all in a swoon.
 
6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
My writing asks a lot more questions than it answers.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Do they even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
Writers have a lot of roles, I think. Writing is entertainment, it's educational, it's political, it's documentation. Different writers' work has different goals and meets different needs. Living in our very precarious and too often disengaged world, I do hope that Hatch encourages readers to consider the complex relationships between cause and lasting effect. I hope it makes people think.

Hatch is more explicitly political than my other books, but I'd be happy if a reader was initially interested because it's a speculative collection. People will come to the book for different reasons, and once they're there,  I hope they'll engage with it, think, and ask their own questions.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
I'm always grateful to have others give my writing their time and attention. I think if an editor is invested in your work and you're appropriately open, it can only be a positive and productive relationship. I've heard occasional horror stories where an editor wants to make changes to such an extent that they are basically re-writing the work in their vision and preferences, and that isn't right. The relationship between writer and editor should be grounded in mutual respect, and I've been fortunate to work with supportive, generous, smart people at both Black Lawrence and Northwestern University Press.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
Oh goodness: knowing when to stop. I think this is really challenging for a lot of writers! There's a point where you're no longer improving a piece, just changing it, and that can go on forever.  I think all writers need to learn when they've done all they can with a piece and how to let it go.

And: be kind. There's no need for hierarchies, cliques, and bullying.

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to hybrid works to short stories)? What do you see as the appeal?
I don't really think about genre when I'm writing. I'm interested in prose poetry and genre hybridity, and I teach courses primarily in fiction, but I don't write with the idea this is a short story or these are poems. It happens sometimes that I'll submit a piece as one genre and a journal will ask to publish it as another.

11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
I don't have a writing routine. Personally, I think that having the time and means for a daily writing routine is a luxury that is completely unrealistic for many  people. While I admire those with a daily routine who find it productive, I resist the idea that it's necessary for a writer. The majority of students that I work with have jobs, and a number of them have children. As an undergraduate, I was working part-time jobs around my classes. I wrote on scraps of paper when I could, and I was publishing my work in literary journals. It's not that I don't think a daily writing routine can be a helpful structure for some, but I also think we need to recognize how disconnected that possibility is (without significant sacrifice of sleep, family time, or necessary income) from the lives of many people.  

12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
When I don't feel like writing I don't write. I usually have multiple book projects underway at once, so if I'm having trouble with one, I can switch to the other, but I don't force work. Back in school, that was sometimes necessary, but it was frustrating with disappointing outcomes. Writing is something that I enjoy, and I don't want to lose that by making it too much into "work." Publishing isn't the source of my income, even though it's tied to my career. By not over-investing in production,  I hope that for students I'm modeling one of many possible relationships to writing.

13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
Oh, I love this question. Seaweed and frozen pond, if I'm thinking of childhood. I grew up in Maine, but now I live in the desert. When it rains here, it rains hard, and there is the distinct smell of creosote. Last, and this is not place specific: Nellie, my dog. There is nothing as soothing and home to me as how she smells.  

14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?
PBS is essential to my work! That may sound silly, but I often have it on in the background, and I'm always half-hearing something that I want to confirm or learn more about. I think PBS is always exposing me to things I wouldn't think to seek out on my own.

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
Julia Leigh, Nin Andrews, Han Kang, Stephen King, Lily Hoang, Allison Benis White, Hanne Ørstavik (translated by Martin Aitken), Amy Hempel, Barbara Comyns, Susan Steinberg, The Dead of the House, The Turn of the Screw, White is for Witching, Dyke, geology, "The Witch of Coös"

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
I wish I knew how to make cheese.

17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
I love being a teacher, but I used to want to be a book conservator or restorer. In my imagination, being a park ranger seems like an excellent job.

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
I'm one of those people who used to narrate everything I did. When I'm alone or doing something tedious (folding laundry, scrubbing the tub) I still sometimes do. Before I could write, I was telling myself stories. No matter what, I'm pretty confident I would write, just for myself if no one else. I'm lucky that I've worked my way in a position where writing is part of my job.

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
I just read Strike Your Heart and Soldiers, Hunters, Not Cowboys and appreciated them both. I haven't seen a "good" movie in so long! I don't watch a lot of movies. I thought Blade Runner 2049 was beautiful and sad, and the stress of Uncut Gems nearly killed me. Hell or High Water, which is a little older, was a great neo-Western.

20 - What are you currently working on?
Thank you for asking. I'm trying to finish a novella-ish thing, and I'm working on a collection of linked prose poetry about filicide, werewolves, and history. I--obviously!--haven't quite figured out how to explain it, but it's coming along.

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Kevin Holden, Pink Noise

 

mica

that would a
creek drank
or certainly through
& objects contracting
vertices of xs
a hardwood to shower
his
rippling
& tender that would be
& go up the cliff
lone pine atop  it
that would be a lilac bush
him running past you
turning into lilacs


And so opens Pink Noise (New York NY: Nightboat Books, 2024), the latest full-length poetry collection by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based poet and translator Kevin Holden. Following a half-dozen books and chapbooks including Alpine (White Queen, 2007), Glinting (Zeta Function, 2008), Identity (Cannibal Books, 2009), Sublimation (Little Red Leaves, 2015), Birch (Ahsahta Press, 2015) and Solar (Fence Books, 2016), Pink Noise is composed as a cluster of accumulated long poems and suites with opening salvo, “mica,” followed by the expansive “riot,” “grit,” “tunnel,” twenty poem cluster “polytopes,” “parhelion,” “grid,” “tunnel” and “glinting.” Holden has a gift for attending to the lyric document, providing articulation and commentary on events from the inside, as they occur, and allowing the reader into the experience. Writing a queer lyric from a queer body (as suggests Brian Teare’s back cover quote), Holden writes of seeking and searching out love in an environment too often hostile, writing the conflicting elements of violence and intimacy, comfort and so much noise. “the gauge is high / we might climb up,” the opening section offers, “and over endless mesh and identities / strung in deep sound or hope / and/or / long talk at empire’s close [.]”

“the streets at night,” opens the accumulative “riot,” “& is a circle or queer sapphire ringing plastic / o young man fabulous muscles star & it / is a dark shadow flowing over pines / a store nearby showering grey sparks / I found you in a club circling in air [.]” Centred around the mantra “so cold today” as a kind of echo, or tether, the poem moves ever outward, returning back to that point, while detailing police brutality, and resistance, wrapped as a kind of unfolding, unfurling and swirling sequence of fragments and short bursts that cohere into something spectacular.

that then caused queer flowering in pink
lattices shouldering up a bunch of them fighting to the street holding
an intersection
tear gas cascading in rainbows across their bleary eyes

 

you want to fight a city
zigzagging heap lightyear in a dark function and any kind of rhythm,
damn you, we wanted to bust them open talking about money and they
clear cut the whole thing

Friday, July 19, 2024

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Scott Mainprize

Scott Mainprize is a lawyer with experience in criminal, family, and refugee law. His grandfather spent his life never feeling safe in exploring who he was. In contrast, Scott has written two novels and been an instructor at Wilfrid Laurier, Carleton University and University College of the North, where he has taught courses on Indigenous-colonial history (in response to the TRC’s Calls to Action) and a course he designed on Restorative Justice. For the last 16-months he has been developing a legal support program to assist the 7,000 strong-Inuit community in Ottawa. As a Two-Spirit person, Scott has been privileged to do all these things, none of which he could have done 75 years ago. That said, their greatest adventure is just beginning, as a new parent.

1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

Getting my first book out of me was a relief. I know a lot of talented people who could write a book and never will.  On a superficial level, that first book made me a professional writer, but it was also healing: toiling with the pleasures and pains of my world and building something beautiful out of it all. It also carved out my writing process. I learned to trust my ability to use words with purpose to take things back that had once been taken from me. My writing is always going to be personal. That first book has served me well, both personally and professionally.

Where A Waking Life was taking an internal world and lifting it into a conversational narrative, The First Few Feet is about things so much larger than the self. It’s about the pluralities of truth and history that exist across Turtle Island and Inuit Nunangat. It’s about the depths of colonization and shining light on the continuity of that effort that has taken place over the last three hundred years. While it is very personal, I also felt a great responsibility to write it in a good way for many peoples—Indigenous, colonial, and those who are other. That is a weight that did not come with my first novel. I am grateful that this book is the very best I am capable of at this stage in my life.

2 - How did you come to fiction first, as opposed to, say, poetry or non-fiction?

My fiction takes heavily from non-fiction. Of course there are exceptions, but, on the whole, I see fiction as having a greater ability to find the reader where they are at than non-fiction. It transcends time, space, and situation in a different way. It also allows for flexibility in the storytelling that true non-fiction doesn’t have access to. That is at least how I come to other works when I am the reader.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?

My first two novels were journeys. Each one had over a dozen drafts. The stories had to find their own life through me as a conduit, I suppose. When that happened, it was as though I was starting over, but now within the immense world that the previous drafts had developed. There are notes, maps, chronologies. They were journeys in every sense.

My next project seems different. Or, maybe I’m just lucky this time that the life of the story has been awake from the beginning. It’s a refreshing experience.

4 - Where does a work of prose begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?

Like my own world, it begins seemingly as though it is several fragmented pieces that need to be connected. Much like my own world, that’s not actually the case. There is a current of life connecting the tapestry that is at the heart of the story. I know it is there the whole time, I just don’t tend to see it for the first nine drafts.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?

My other creative outlet is stand-up comedy, and I am a barrister by trade, so I enjoy workshopping my narratives. That said, it is not essential for me to do readings of my novels. I have a deep respect for the notion that the story received by any reader is going to be different than the story a writer s offering. I don’t know that such workshopping supports this.

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?

The stories I tell are rooted in concerns about the world. The First Few Feet is the story of hundreds of years of suppressed histories and what that means for the reconciliation we all face today, as selves, communities, and nations. These are urgent issues that some of us have been treading for centuries, while others are being newly shocked by in this moment. How do we move forward in a good way, now that we know the truths of the past? A Waking Life is a conversation questioning the dichotomy between ideas of life and death.

I am not trying to answer these questions. I simply raise them and try to deconstruct some of the incomplete “answers” that have been accepted without question by large swaths of our society.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Do they even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?

There are different types of writers, who serve separate (equally important) roles for society. Mine is as a storyteller. Whether I’m lawyering, performing comedy, or writing a novel, that’s the central current. As a storyteller, I see my role as being one that opens spaces for the conversations I explore to continue beyond my self. Facilitating a discussion that has a life of its own or offering a new way of seeing an issue. I am sure other, more technically sound, writers, would see their roles differently. I happily differ to them for the aggregate responsibilities of the profession.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?

I think it’s both difficult and essential. The editor I worked with on The First Few Feet was very hands-off. For some reason, that really worked for this piece. Maybe because of the personal nature of the story. The story I’ve written isn’t the same story that any reader finds, so anyone who is willing to share how to best bridge that fissure is vital to a better experience for writer and reader. I think when good writers and good editors find each other they can lift a text to another level. As with most interpersonal dynamics, sometimes egos get in the way of that, but the end result is usually better for the collaboration.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?

Embrace the silences. The power of the space between our words is often more powerful than the words themselves. Silence isn’t scary. Not in the stories we tell; nor, in the lives that shape them.

That was the advice I got before I went out on stage the first night that I performed stand-up comedy. I’ve found it equally helpful as a courtroom lawyer, a hospice social worker, a community developer, professor, and writer. There must be something to it that’s worth sharing here.

10 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?

My writing ebbs when I have space for it and flows when I don’t. If I have a day to write, I’ll use an hour well. If I have no time, I will be inspired. I have gotten used to waking up at 3 AM to secure my words to paper and working until dawn. There is a serenity to working at night.

True to form, now that I am a single father, the next writing venture that is finding life in me is making itself known with increasing fervor these days. 

11 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?

The stories I tell find their own way into the world. I see myself as more of an assist in the process. When the process “stalls” I trust that it will “unstall” when the story is ready. That is the luxury with not being a full-time writer. The story doesn’t have to carry that pressure the way it would if my rent depended on it.

12 - What fragrance reminds you of home?

Mold. The place I called home growing up was covered in wall mold. Home isn’t always a sanctuary. It drove me out and into the world.

13 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?

My stories come from life. They reverberate with the people, places, and animate beings I have shared space with. That’s the part I am conscious of. There is a whole world of contributors I am not conscious of as well.

14 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?

David Rakoff. Someone who was a brilliant essayist/satirist broke away from his comfort zone with his last work, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish. As an individual piece, it’s worth reading. As a contrast to his previous works, it is inspiring. It made me rethink my idea of what it means to be an accomplished writer. I’d rather write four extremely different books (in form and substance), than forty novels clearly written by the same person.

Writers whose individual works became a friend include Tomson Highway, JamesBaldwin, Mikhail Bakhtin, Mikhail Bulgakov, Yann Martel, Shirley MacLaine, Richard Bach, Paul Monette, and Vito Russo.  I mean, the list goes on (and on, and on). I just need to stop somewhere.

15 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?

I have had the privilege of living so many of my dreams already. I have already done all the things I once felt I “needed” to do to feel fulfilled. I have performed stand-up comedy, became a lawyer, written books I’m proud of, crafted and taught a course on restorative justice and developed a legal support program for the Inuit community in/around Ottawa. More than doing any of these things, I am proud that I did them n a way that has always been true to myself. I find that I walk in this world very differently than most of the people I occupy space with. I am proud that I found my way on this journey of life despite the obstacles.

By far, the most important thing to me is the journey I am just embarking on—fatherhood. That has always been the only thing I ever really wanted in life; from the time I was twelve years old. As a Two-Spirit person, I didn’t know that the colonial infrastructure would ever allow me to do that on my terms.  I did it. I found my son. That is what I needed to do in this life.

I still have dreams and pursuits, of course, but it’s selfish to expect they will all materialize. I’ve had more than my share in this life already.

16 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?

I think I am a pretty good lawyer and instructor. I enjoy those professions. They make me a better writer as well. I don’t think I’d be very interesting if all I did was write. That’s not me.

17 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?

The only stories I write are the ones I think no one else is able to tell. The ones I hoped I would find when I picked up other works and read different stories.

So long as that continues to happen, I will continue to write. I will also continue to enjoy reading the stories that compel me to write.

18 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?

Book: A Confederacy of Dunces. A bit of a cheat because it’s a re-read. As I sat reading it in class (the first time), I couldn’t stop laughing uproariously to myself. It released this tension in my mind that humour and advocacy need be separate beasts. Each is far more persuasive when supported by the other.

Film: One Sings, The Other Doesn’t. A subject as polarizing today as it was upon its release. It’s handled with an equal respect for the choices made by the two protagonists. An under-appreciated gem in the Varda canon.

19 - What are you currently working on?

I’ll keep that a secret. Stay tuned, though.

12 or 20 (second series) questions;