Wordstock Sudbury

Today, I was pleased and privileged to be a part of Wordstock Sudbury, the first of what is hoped to be a biannual literary event.  At the Sudbury Theatre Centre (STC), Wordstock took over the main stage, lounge, and lobby areas for readings, workshops, and the essential selling of books.

If you would like to have a look at the full schedule, it is available on the site linked above.

I attended primarily to support my friend, poet Kim Fahner, and my fellow members of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild (SWG).  I also read the recently revamped opening of my novel.

Kim read with former Sudbury Poet Laureate Roger Nash, and Charlie Smith from Massey, all of them published by Your Scrivener Press (YSP).  The theme of their reading was Home and Away.  Though all three have very distinctive voices, the reading went well and had a seamless feel.  It’s always a pleasure to see such consummate professionals perform their works.

KimFahnerOf course, Kim was fabulous 🙂  She has a way of addressing the audience, slightly self-deprecating yet hilarious, that establishes a relationship.  We feel instantly at home with her, and completely comfortable as she shares pieces of her life in verse.

After a brief break, Sudbury Arts Council (SAC) president, Vicky Gilhula took the stage and presented the youth writing contest winners with their prizes.  One young man (forgive me, but I forget his name) came prepared to read and his story, based on his grandfather’s life in Sudbury and his career in the mining industry, was spectacular.  Amazing: a thirteen year old young man had the confidence and presence to bring us to tears.

He was that good.

Next, the SWG took over the auditorium, beginning with Rosanna Batigelli, who read a RosannaBatigellicouple of chapters from her historical novel, La Brigantessa.  The novel’s protagonist takes to a life of a brigand when she is assaulted and forced to leave her home by a tyrannical general.  Rosanna is in the process of revising her novel for publication.

EmilyDeangelisEmily Deangelis read from her middle grade/young adult novel about a young girl who loses her father in a car accident and subsequently experiences supernatural visitations when she is left with her great-aunt in Manitoulin Island’s Meldrum Bay.

Irene Golas read a selection of her poetry and flash fiction.IreneGolas

Tom Leduc read a number of his poems centering on his experience of Sudbury and its mining industry.

MargoLittleMargo Little from Manitoulin Island read some of her works published through projects of the Manitoulin Writers’ Circle including one on the War of 1812 and how the soldiers of the time became enamoured of their muskets, called Brown Betties.

Janice Leuschen, a member of both the SWG and of the JaniceLeuschenProfessional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) read one of her stories, and Heather Campbell, also a member of PWAC, finished off the session with a discussion of creative non-fiction.

I read just after Margo and just before Janice.  I don’t have any pictures and I’ll reach out to my fellow guildies to share any pictures they may have of me at the event.  It would be a lovely remembrance of the day.  Sincere thanks in advance 🙂

As I mentioned, I read the revised opening of Initiate of Stone; it was my first public presentation and I received some excellent feedback from Kim and Emily.  The technical director of the STC also found me in the lobby and complimented me on my reading.

I have often been told that I have a great voice.  It’s one of the things that helps me both as a corporate trainer and as a writer, a learned skill from my days as a poet, honed by years of practise.  I tend to a literary style, even though I write genre, and the voice creates an appropriately dreamy backdrop for my words.

After the SWG session was over, playwright Matthew Heiti took the stage to host a series of readings from plays in which one friend, Paulette Dahl, was reading from a play by another, mutual friend, Louise Visneskie.

The English Arts Society of Laurentian University also hosted a reading, Heather Campbell hosted a workshop on the creative process, and Roger Nash and Daniel Aubin, Sudbury’s current Poet Laureate read their poetry.

And all of that wasn’t counting the Friday night cabaret, the children’s and young adult programming on the patio, or any of the other workshops and events that I couldn’t attend.

Though attendance was modest, I think that it was a good start.  The hope of the organizers is to grow Wordstock into a full literary festival at a larger venue, or at several venues throughout the city.  I wish them the best and applaud them for this year’s event.

I had a blast 🙂

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An interview with Kim Fahner

Kim FahnerKim Fahner lives and writes in Sudbury, Ontario, where she teaches English at Marymount Academy.  She had published two books of poems, You Must Imagine the Cold Here (Your Scrivener Press, 1997) and Braille on water (Penumbra Press, 2001).  This new book, The Narcoleptic Madonna, is also being published by Penumbra Press (2012).  Kim is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, The League of Canadian Poets, and PEN Canada.  She worked with Timothy Findley through the Humber School for Writers back in the late 1990s.  Most recently, she served on the editorial board of the ezine, terra nord/north.

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WG: First, hugs and thanks for virtually gracing me with your poetic presence here on Writerly Goodness.  I’m really excited about the launch of The Narcoleptic Madonna on Friday, December 7, 7pm, at Thorneloe University Theatre.

TNM will be your third poetry collection.  Could you comment on how, from the poet’s perspective, your work has evolved from You Must Imagine the Cold Here, through Braille on Water, to TNM?

KF:  If I consider how my work has evolved over the years, since the publication of my first little book of poems in 1997, I find some aspects echo through all three collections, but I also find that I have grown both as a person and as a poet.  This is to be expected.  My early poems were often lengthy, wordy and more narrative in nature.  I still have narrative work, but it might be more of a ‘narrative lyric’ in style and form.  My most recent poems, some unpublished, are purposeful experiments in poetics.  In August of this year, I attended an ekphrastic poetry workshop at the Anam Cara Writers’ and Artists’ Retreat in Eyeries, on the Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork, Ireland.  I had, prior to that, written a few ekphrastic poems, but now I am very enamoured of the genre.  That wonderful retreat was led by Seattle poet, Susan Rich, and attended by poets from around the world.  Since then, I’ve been playing with the idea of persona poems and dabbling more and more in the ekphrastic field.  I’m trying to stretch out in a poetic yoga pose, so to speak.  I want to continue to challenge myself to evolve as a poet.

WG: How or from where do the ideas for your poems come to you?

KF:    I think, as many poets might say, my ideas for poems come from life itself.  I find that I am always observing others.  Poets need to be in the world, but not always of the world, if that makes any sense.  We must hover on the margins, so as to better see how people behave in the world.  I get poetic ideas when I’m walking my dogs.  I find inspiration in nature, something that is prevalent here in Northern Ontario.  I also love to travel and I find that traveling often inspires me to write.

WG: What themes does TNM address?

KF:  This new collection, The Narcoleptic Madonna, seems to have a few key thematic threads running through it.  The most obvious, to me, is that of the idea of journeying to find oneself.  I often find that I must journey outwardly in order to go inside.  By traveling, I journey within myself and uncover new layers of being.  Sounds elitist, but it’s not.  It’s just a heightened awareness of who and what you’re made of, and how you fit into the world around you.  The collection covers poetry that was written over a twelve year period of time.  During the last ten years, I spent a great deal of time taking care of my parents as they became ill and then died.  This was transformative to me, in terms of how I defined myself and how I saw myself.  As a result of that, a number of the poems in NM deal with life, love, death, and the recreation of spirit that comes after death.  It really is a collection that speaks to the phoenix-like quality of life itself.  There are endings, but those endings always seem to spawn new beginnings.  I’m not saying it’s easy to recreate oneself after losing someone you love, but it’s necessary and unavoidable.  That process, of walking someone through the last years of their life, isn’t an easy one, but it did serve as inspiration for poetry and for reflection on lessons learned.  I also spent a great deal of time dealing with depression.  This, too, was a painful, but transformative process for me.  Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom in order to recreate yourself.  That seems to have been part of my process, as a person, and that process is reflected in my work.

WG: I’m a big fan of writing process.  Could you say a few words about your process as a poet?

KF:   I’m not the best at revision.  Usually, when I’m not experimenting with purposeful poetic exercises like ekphrasis or persona, I tend to find that lines discover me!  Usually, when I’m walking, images come to visit.  Sometimes they come to me in dreams, but if I don’t write them down, they disappear.  Other times, when I’m driving through the city on the way to work, I see people and begin to wonder at their lives.  A poem comes to me quickly, in a rush of lines or a first stanza.  Then, I might leave it for a day or so, but whenever I return to it, the poem writes itself in a rush.  I fiddle with it a bit, initially, but then it sits on its own for a few days.  When I return, I slice and dice it a bit, but I’m nowhere near the expert at revision as some of my poet friends are.

WG: Given all of the above, how long did TNM take to come together for you?

KF:  The final part of the collection, its acceptance by publisher John Flood and Penumbra Press, has birthed itself over the last ten months or so.  I had submitted the manuscript to another press, but it was rejected.  Then, I sent the collection to John and he had it for a while.  He emailed me in January or Februrary of 2012 and said he was interested in publishing the work.  I was thrilled.  The last few months, from September onward, has been a time or editing, proofreading and revision.  I love working with John because he has decades of experience in working with poets, so he often sees things in my work that I would rather ignore.  He’ll suggest revisions that, initially, I might resist.  That’s all ego, though, as I always initially feel ‘Oh, I can’t change that….it’s my poem.’  Once I get past the idea of resisting the suggested revision of my work, I always get to a place where I see that his edits are things that make my poems stronger, leaner, and more than what they were before.  I trust him implicitly now and I know he sees my work with more objective eyes.

The actual writing of the manuscript, though, has stretched over a twelve year period.  The topics of the poems vary, but I notice that I am always a keen employer of metaphor in my work.  It’s my favourite poetic device, I am sure!  I think in metaphor on a daily basis, and I know I teach through metaphor as well, so it makes sense that metaphor plays such a key role in my work.

WG: Is there anything else you’d like to share about NM?

KF:   I’m just very excited to have this book come into the world.  My only regret is that my parents aren’t here to share in it.  Without them, without their support, I would never have come this far in my life as a poet.  They were always supportive of my creative sidnarcolepticcovere.  When I decided not to do a PhD in English years ago, in my mid-twenties, because I was worried about what academia would do to my creative work, they were the first to reassure me that I wasn’t making a mistake.  The certainty that they had in my gift, in my talent, was comforting.  I just wish they were still here to see NM arrive in the world.  I think they would have loved it.  It’s dedicated to their memory and I hold them close to my heart.

WG: Thank you for dropping by Writerly Goodness, and for your time and thoughtfulness in sharing these insights.

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The countdown to Kim’s launch has begun!  In six days she’ll be at Thorneloe University Theatre reading from her brand-spanking new book.  Will you be there?  I certainly will!

Our Lakes Shall Set Us Free – November 6, 2012

A chilly night for a poetry anthology launch, but as several of my Sudbury Writers’ Guild friends were featured in its pages, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to blog the event 🙂

A very well-attended event, as it turned out.  Parking was at a premium at the Living with Lakes Centre of Laurentian University.  With the poetry of 26 of the Northeast’s best and brightest featured, 15 of them reading that night, and with family and friends in tow, the lobby was filled to capacity.

Editor of the anthology, Roger Nash, started off the evening in lieu of publisher Laurence Steven, who was unfortunately ill.  Roger spoke of the anthology’s inception, the contest that generated its content, and how he was able to encourage Margaret Atwood (not having read her Web site and not knowing that she didn’t do such things) to write an introduction for the collection.

The Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences spoke to the interdisciplinary evolution of Laurentian’s programs: students in the sciences may minor in social sciences or humanities, and vice versa.  The Director of the Living with Lakes Centre then offered a few words about his support for the anthology and how the centre is invested in the local arts community.

Then the poets in attendance were invited to come up and read.

Tom Leduc, the contest winner, read his poem “My Northern Lake.”

Mandy Steele, the youngest poet in the anthology, asked her father to read her poem, “White Water.”

Kim Fahner read “Tai Chi on Ramsey,” a poem inspired by fellow writer Rick DeMeulles.

Irene Golas, fellow SWG member, read not only her haiku sequence, “Weekend at a Northern Lake,” but also returned later in the evening to read the tanka sequence of her Breccia collaborator, Ignatius Fay.

Dillon Daveikis recited her poem, “A Lake’s Journey,” from memory.

Rebecca Salazar read “First Alchemy”; Danielle Pitman, “The Dive”; and Dr. Dieter Buse read his poem, “To Children Under Ninety in a City of Lakes.”

Connie Suite read her poem, “Born to Fish” and 90-year old Greg O’Connor asked his daughter to read his poem, “Gone Fishing.”

Christine Poropat read “Pure Dreams” and Rosemarie Mirfield read “World Under.”

The evening came to a close on two more SWG members, Betty Guenette, reading “Poor Minnow,” and Margot Little reading “Shell-Shocked.”

It was a wonderful night of great poetry in a variety of forms.  The anthology is divided into themed grouping of poems: Our Lakes Shall Set Us Free, Voyaging, Taking the Plunge, Gone Fishin’, The Seasons, and Urban Jungle Lakes.

The first printing of the anthology, priced at a reasonable $12, is already almost sold out.

Get yours while they last 🙂

Shivering yet? Seasonal chill? No, it’s just Dead Air

An interview with Scott Overton.

Scott Overton is a radio morning man on Rewind 103.9 FM in Ontario, Canada, who blames his off-kilter perspective on years of lost sleep from waking at 4:00am. His short fiction has been published in magazines including On Spec and Neo-opsis, and the anthologies Tesseracts Sixteen, and Canadian Tales of the Fantastic, among others. His first novel Dead Air (a mystery/thriller) is now available from Scrivener Press, while several SF novels are looking for good homes in the publishing industry. When not writing, Scott’s passions include scuba diving and a couple of collector cars, in which he hopes to someday find enough story inspiration to make them tax deductible.

Scott’s webpage is www.scottoverton.ca

An interview with Scott Overton.

Scott Overton is a radio morning man on Rewind 103.9 FM in Ontario, Canada, who blames his off-kilter perspective on years of lost sleep from waking at 4:00am. His short fiction has been published in magazines including On Spec and Neo-opsis, and the anthologies Tesseracts Sixteen, and Canadian Tales of the Fantastic, among others. His first novel Dead Air (a mystery/thriller) is now available from Scrivener Press, while several SF novels are looking for good homes in the publishing industry. When not writing, Scott’s passions include scuba diving and a couple of collector cars, in which he hopes to someday find enough story inspiration to make them tax deductible.

Scott’s webpage is www.scottoverton.ca

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Thank you, Scott, for taking the time to visit Writerly Goodness in advance of Dead Air’s launch on October 11, 2012 (Living with Lakes Centre, Laurentian University – be there or be … oblong).  I’m very pleased to have you with me, if virtually.

WG: For those of my readers who may not know what your novel is about, could you give them a brief synopsis?

Scott: Sure. It’s about a radio morning man named Lee Garrett who makes a joke on the radio about a neo-Nazi gang and a few days later he finds a death threat left for him. Then a series of incidents of mischief and vandalism turns into outright attempts on his life. Someone wants him dead, and he doesn’t know who or why.

WG: Where did the idea for Dead Air come from?

Scott: I’m a morning radio broadcaster myself, and I was struck by the vulnerability of even small-scale celebrities. People think they know us, but we don’t know them. And it’s very easy to make an enemy without meaning to, or even knowing that you have. I also wanted to explore how an ordinary person would try to cope with such a devastating threat (as opposed to some Hollywood hero who’d just get a gun and blow the bad guys away).

WG: Writing process is a personal interest of mine.  Would you be able to speak to your process in writing Dead Air?

Scott: It took at least five years to write the first version of Dead Air because I was working full-time and was involved in quite a bit of charity work. I worked on it whenever I could: evenings, weekends, and vacation time, but was impossible for me to stick to a routine because of my other commitments. Fortunately I have an upstairs room that became my study and interruptions were discouraged (even when I was hogging the family’s only computer!)

My writing habits are better now, though I still can’t tolerate any distractions or listen to music. I don’t know how writers can do that and still feel the rhythm of their words.

WG: Dead Air is a thriller, but you’ve had a fair amount of recent publishing success in another genre.  If readers would like to find more of your work, where would they look?

Scott: Everything else I’ve written would be considered science fiction or fantasy, though often with thriller elements. I’ve been fortunate to have seven short stories published and, as a Canadian, I’m particularly proud to have been published in the two top Canadian SF magazines, On Spec (twice) and Neo-opsis, as well as the quintessential Canadian SF anthology series, Tesseracts (I have a story in the latest edition, Tesseracts Sixteen). So I feel like that’s the Triple Crown of SF in our country. Now I really hope I can get my SF novels published.

WG: How did you first start writing?

Scott: I’ve been writing stories ever since I was a child, and briefly tried to write full-time in my twenties, but couldn’t stick with it long enough to break in. I’ve always been determined to become a published author, so when I came up with the concept for Dead Air I just went for it, and I’ve been writing consistently ever since.

WG: Getting back to Dead Air, how did you get your contract with Laurence Steven of Your Scrivener Press?

Scott: I’ve always had a lot of respect for the quality of the manuscripts he chooses and the books he produces. My friend and mentor, Sudbury author Sean Costello, spoke highly of his own experience working with Laurence. Scrivener Press is also a recommender for the Ontario Arts Council’s Writers Reserve grants. I applied for a grant to rewrite Dead Air, Laurence recommended it to the OAC, and when the MS was ready I submitted it to Laurence. I didn’t get his answer for about six months, but he says that was because he was trying to work out the timing of the publication. He’s a busy guy.

WG: Finally, aside from your launch on October 11, are there any other upcoming events you’d like to promote, and where can readers purchase your book?

Scott: I’m sure I’ll be doing more readings and book signings at Chapters and places like that, but nothing has been scheduled yet. The book is available directly from Scrivener Press (though the web site’s a little behind on the direct purchase linkage), and I understand it’s now in stock at Chapters in Sudbury and likely Coles, too. Online it can be ordered through Amazon and Chapters-Indigo.

Scott, thanks for joining me 🙂

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Don’t miss the launch of Scott Overton’s thriller Dead Air! Thursday, October 11, 2012, at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre, 6:30-9:30 pm: free admission and refreshments. (Scott will be reading from the book at 8 pm.) More info at http://www.scrivenerpress.com/default.asp?id=580

 

LUminaries: The Power of Popular Fiction

On October 4, 2012, I attended the first of Laurentian University’s new season of the LUminaries readings series, held at the Living with Lakes Centre (LwLC).  The theme of the evening was the power of popular fiction, with authors John Forrest, Scott Overton, and Mark Leslie.

The first thing to note is that the LwLC is beautiful.  It was built with the landscape and the environment in mind, using a lot of natural or reclaimed materials, a green roof, and wonderful views of Ramsey Lake on the shores of which the centre stands.

The parking was a bit of an issue and I understand the reasons for this.  The builders wanted to encourage a more environmentally sustainable mode of travel, such as walking, cycling, or public transit.  Sadly, this would only work for individuals who work and/or live in the immediate university area.  The room in which the reading was held has a capacity of about 60 I believe.  There’s no way the cars of 60 attendees could fit into that wee parking lot.

This is unfortunate, because it makes the site unattractive for larger events where attendees from off-campus might want to participate in numbers.

This year’s LUminaries was co-sponsored by the English department, through Laurence Steven, the big squishy brain behind Your Scrivener Press, and by the English Arts Club, who are also behind the university’s new literary journal, Sulphur.   

The evening began with a meet and greet/author signing session out in the foyer of the centre.  I decided to hold off on picking up one of Scott’s books until his official launch this coming Thursday, October 11, 2012, at 8 pm (also at the LwLC).  I picked up Tesseracts 16, however, and Mark Leslie’s Haunted Hamilton.  I chatted up the authors, including John Forrest, but I must confess to selling Mr. Forrest short.  The books he had for sale were of Christmas stories and I wasn’t interested or yet in the mood for Christmas.

Laurence Steven began the reading more formally with a brief talk on popular fiction, its attraction, and its denigration in the literary/academic community.  Then he called John Forrest to the podium.

John was an educator and principal in his past career, but then turned his considerable talents to writing.  One of his claims to fame is that he’s had eleven stories published in various Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, three in the one about hockey.  That’s what he started with, his recounting of the ’72 Summit Series from the perspective of a young teacher working the sporting event into his teaching unit.

He then read part of a story from his story collection entitled Home for Christmas, about a WWII bomber tail gunner and his struggle to get home for Christmas.  Finally, he pulled out his first published short story, a humorous tale about purchasing condoms pending his vasectomy.

John’s first Christmas short story collection, published by YSP last year, has gone into three printings and was sold in Home Hardware stores as well as online and in book stores.  Home for Christmas has already sold out its first printing even though it hasn’t formally been launched yet!  John was dropping off boxes of his book to a couple of the local Home Hardware stores this week, so look for them in the Christmas home decor section.

Next, Scott Overton took the podium, and read three excerpts from his new novel Dead Air.  Without giving too much away, because I am going to blogging more about Scott in the next week or so, his novel is a thriller about a morning radio host in northern Ontario who has a strange dispute with a caller to his morning show and subsequently finds a hand-written threat on his desk.

Several possible love-interests, a snow mobile chase, and car trouble on a cold and stormy night are among the thrills in Dead Air.

Then Mark Leslie read a humorous horror story about what it might really be like to be Frosty the Snowman and some of his poetry from his collection One Hand Screaming.  He also spoke about his experience at editor for Tesseracts 16.  He’s never cracked the anthology as a writer, but lost his “Tesseracts” virginity at 16 🙂

As you can see from the picture, Mark is a very animated presenter and performer, changing his voice for the various characters in his stories.

At that point, there was an intermission after which there was to be a Q&A session.  Unfortunately, it was what I like to call a “school night” and I had to get home to complete my interview responses for Brian Braden and Underground Book Reviews and then get to bed so I would be marginally coherent at work on Friday.

I’m sure it was a fantastic second half and I’m sorry I had to leave.

If anyone who was there would care to fill in the blanks in the comment section, please do so!

Words in the Wilderness

July 23-29, 2010.

This conference was the darling of the Sudbury Hypergraphic Society.  While I did not attend all the events, the workshop with Marie Bilodeau and Jennifer Rouse Barbeau was great.  Hosted at Music and Film in Motion, the session was an intimate affair with wonderful insights into process and what it takes to get published.  Jennifer was about to have her first novel, Swampy Jo, published through Your Scrivener Press.

Marie in particular intrigued me with how she broke into publishing and how hard she had to work to get there.  Starting off with success in e-books, Marie’s first novel, Princess of Light, was so successful that the publisher decided to move it to their print line.  The only condition was that she had to have the remaining two novels in her trilogy written and ready for editing ASAP.

Princess was published February 29, 2009 and the second novel, Warrior of Darkness, was released in July of the same year.  Sorceress of Shadows came out in April of 2010, which will give you an idea of how quickly the work had to be done.  Marie front-loaded the work and still managed to write a phenomenally successful series.  One of her secrets: when necessary, she retreated to a local convent to focus on the task of writing.

I’ve since “friended” Marie on Facebook and follow her blog and adventures.  She’s published two more novels, Destiny’s Blood and Destiny’s Fall.  The latter is just out in March (see Amazon for details) from Dragon Moon Press.

Recently, she wrote that she had another date with “giant Jesus.”  This was a reference to another personal writing retreat she had planned at the convent.

When she got there though, she discovered the convent secularized, and dubbed it the no-longer-convent convent.

Have you discovered anyone through a conference or workshop who inspired you?