Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays from The Fiddlehead!

It's snowing today outside The Fiddlehead office!
 Have a wonderful holiday season! We'll be back in the new year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Interview with Sue Sinclair

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with accomplished Canadian poet and current University of New Brunswick writer-in-residence Sue Sinclair. Over the course of my academic career I have been fortunate enough to hear Sue read her poetry often and finally had the chance to discuss some of the most intriguing and complex elements of her work.

Author of Secrets of Weather and Hope (finalist for the 2002 Gerald Lampert Award), Mortal Arguments (finalist for the 2003 Atlantic Poetry Prize), The Drunken Lovely Bird (winner of the 2005 International Independent Publisher’s Award for Poetry) and Breaker, Sue is currently completing her Ph. D. in Philosophy.

Listen to the interview in your web browser 
(Right Click or Control Click on the above link to download mp3 file)

Kayla Geitzler
Editorial Assistant

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Reading Forugh Farrokhzad in December

Iman bivarim beh aghaz fasle sard
“Let us believe in the beginning of the cold season”

As the weather grows colder and academic deadlines collide with the hectic holiday season, the urge to procrastinate mounts. At some point I eventually give in and spend a few of these long, gray afternoons with the poetry of Forugh Farrokhzad. Her intricate manoeuvring of abstraction, visceral imagery and dense metaphor remind me why, like her, “I respect poetry in the very same way religious people respect religion” (Collected Works).

I first came across the Iranian poet and filmmaker by chance at the annual University Women’s book sale in Moncton, NB when I was ten years old. Despite my general lack of acquaintance with the adult world and its gender politics, her work possessed and moved me — something of the deeply nuanced and complicated subject matter conveyed through deceptively simple language entranced me. The book Tavallodi digar or Another Birth was lost in a move and my parents were unable to locate another English translation.

Fourteen years later, an Iranian friend re-introduced me to Farrokhzad. He gave me a bilingual Farsi/English collection and loaned me recordings of her poetry which, despite the language barrier and sometimes distracting musical interludes, greatly contextualized her lyrical phrasing.  This eloquent performativity that expounded her Modernist free-verse and feminism deeply offended the conservative male Iranian poets of her time. Farrokhzad was the first to detail the difficulties of life for Iranian women and she re-wrote stereotypes of modest, subservient women as caged, passionate, independent, and sexual individuals. She also wrote about her lovers in detail and had no issue juxtaposing the erotic with Islamic tradition (“Conquest of the Garden” & “The Wind-Up Doll”).

As the citizens of Iran and other Middle Eastern countries strive in hopes of achieving leadership that more accurately reflects contemporary visions of its peoples’, I cannot help but think of Forugh Farrokhzad whose nature seemed to be innately connected with a desire for equal human rights. In her poem, “Let us believe in the beginning of the cold season”, Farrokhzad re-examines her life’s struggles against prominent ideology. The poem’s tone is largely pessimistic: “And this is I/ a woman alone/ at the threshold of a cold season/ at the beginning of understanding/ the polluted existence of the earth...and the incapacity of these concrete hands.” Yet it claims believing in “the beginning of a cold season” as central to the metaphor renewal, of taking up the struggle once again: “next year when spring/ sleeps with the sky beyond the window/ and her body exudes/ green shoots of light,/ branches will blossom./ Let us believe in the beginning of the cold season.”

Raised in a household that strove to maintain a conventional appearance, she was married at 17 and divorced at 19. Custody of their son was awarded to her ex-husband. While composing and performing poetry has been and continues to be a vibrant and thriving art form in the Middle East, as a divorcée writing about feminist concerns and her sexuality, she gained much disapproval. When living abroad she met her long-term lover Ebrahim Golestan and after their return to Iran she filmed a documentary called The House is Black that explored the inhumane treatment of lepers. She died in a car accident in 1967, at the age of 32.

In 2010, Forugh Farrokhzad was excluded from an Iranian published compendium of poets despite her continuing international and Iranian popularity. Most critics believed this was a political decision as her poetry is still considered inflammatory (PayvandIran News).  However, Farrokhzad’s popularity and politics took a stance the 1999 film Bad ma ra khaha bord or The Wind Will Carry Us by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, the title an abbreviation of one of Farrokhzad’s most popular poems. In one scene, the protagonist (or antagonist, depending on how he feels that day) recites a portion of “The Window” and “The Wind Will Carry Us Away” to a young woman as a way of encouraging her to find ways of meeting the world outside her village.

The most recent and contemporary translations of Farrokhzad’s work have been collected by Sholeh Wolpe who has chosen what she considers to be Forugh’s best or most provocative poems. Wolpe’s translations are very fine but in some instances I feel she has stepped too far away from Farrokhzad’s traditional lyricism. This edition was published under the title Sin by the University of Arkansas Press in 2007. A Lonely Woman: Forugh Farrokhzad and Her Poetry by Michael C. Hillman, is a text that critically examines her life and literary career; excellent translations of her better known poems are included. Internet book dealers can usually scrounge the odd bilingual copy of Asir (Captive), Divar (The Wall) or Tavallodi digar (Another Birth).

Kayla Geitzler
Editorial Assistant

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grumpy Old Men (On Richler and Sendak)

At my Jewish high school in Montreal, Mordecai Richler, of course, was a bit of a hero. Whether or not he liked it, and even though he relentlessly lampooned the Jewish community, he was still one of ours. February at our school was public speaking month. So, every February, the teachers compiled and distributed a list of quotations to all of us groaning, gawky teenagers – possible speech topics from which we were to choose. Each year, not unexpectedly, writing from Richler’s books was excavated and placed completely out of context on this public speaking list. Richler’s “memorable quotes” could be read alongside pieces of wisdom from the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela.
A recurring favourite was a piece of dialogue lifted from a scene in Duddy Kravitz. Drunk Aunt Ida tells Duddy: “The human personality is like an iceberg. Nine tenths of it remains submerged.” Of course, our teachers chose this quote because it’s something all teenagers feel: misunderstood.  So, predictably, each year, earnest speeches of the you-don’t-know-me variety proliferated. We applauded our classmates and felt better about ourselves.

We had no idea where these words came from, so neatly pared down and packaged as generic “inspirational quote.” We didn’t know, but our teachers did. They knew that Duddy, by way of response, thought, Ver gerharget! or drop dead

They were making fun of us.

Appropriately, of course, because Richler was famous for making fun. The fragile teenage psyche certainly didn’t escape his mockery. He also ridiculed Pierre Trudeau, the Jewish community, the Church, the Montreal police, and other writers. Byron was a "sicko," Dylan Thomas "a schnorrer born" (that's a sponger, for those of you who'd like to add another Yiddish word to your vocabulary and help keep a dying language alive - alas! alas!).  Celebrated writers in general are "outrageous liars, philanderers, drunks, druggies, unsuitable babysitters, plagiarists, psychopaths, cowards, indifferent dads or moms and bad credit risks." He also gently mocked his friends, his family, and above all, himself. Have you read Barney’s Version?  (Have you at least seen the movie? I missed the one weekend it played in Fredericton because I was occupied complaining about how the local cinema never shows the good movies. But my friend Jacob went to high school with the lady who plays Barney’s daughter and I saw her at a bar one time. Just saying.)

Richler has been on my mind because another of my favourite curmudgeons, Maurice Sendak, has recently released a new book, Bumble-Ardy, and he’s had a lot of publicity. He's a popular interview subject because he makes these crabby pronouncements that the interviewer imagines will get her readers all hot and lathered and sending outraged e-mails. For instance, he tells The Guardian's Emma Brockes, of Salman Rushdie, "He's detestable. I called up the Ayatollah, nobody knows that." Brockes notes that Rushdie once gave Sendak a terrible review in The New York Times, and he's nursed the grudge ever since. So, you see, it’s really about him. Are they narcissists? Sure, but that is part of the game. The thing about Sendak and Richler is, they give offense, but with such a strong sense of self-mockery that it's hard to stay angry. My favourite moment in the Brockes interview is when Sendak says of his dog, an Alsatian called Herman, "He's German.” After a beat, he adds, “He doesn't know I'm Jewish." This kind of sweet self-effacement covers all manner of sins. Sendak pokes fun, and if you're not laughing, well, then, you're a tedious thing, aren't you?

I love these writers because their writing is iconoclastic. Sendak says that he refuses “to cater to the bull — of innocence”: the children in his books are as “ferocious, inventive and troublesome as they are in real life.” Richler just had everybody wringing their hands. I love these writers because their utter irreverence is so calculated. They are smart, incisive, funny, and totally uncompromising.

The knowledge that the author of Where the Wild Things Are is an irate (but mostly loveable) man comforts me. It gives me hope that I, too, could someday tread a little less lightly in my writing. I’ve had Richler and Sendak on the brain because, as I make progress on my thesis (honest, Ross!), I’m beginning to realize how much I censor myself. Instead of saying what I mean, I find myself writing into an idea(l). I try to be nice, or sparse, or pretty, when really, I would like my writing to be more like theirs – uncompromising, just a little. 

Sarah Bernstein
Editorial Assistant

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Small Presses, Literary Magazines, and the “big times”

Interesting conversation going on over at Hayden’s Ferry Review on what is the role of the small press (including literary magazines) other than as a stepping stone to the “big times” (major publishers). Seems to me that the big times just got a whole lot bigger and a whole lot smaller in recent times. Bigger in that some writers and their books are getting more exposure and publicity than ever. Smaller in that fewer and fewer writers are getting any type of exposure or support at all in the big-time world. Not surprising since the big-time world's foundations are built on the bottom line.

The small presses meanwhile usually survive with their caps in hand. In these environments, risk is not to be avoided but often to be encouraged. In the case of The Fiddlehead, speaking for myself, my interest lies solely in the writing. While I have no interest in discovering the next big thing, I have great interest in discovering the next best story. Sometimes they arrive that way, and sometimes it means working with a writer to probe it out. That's an end in itself. While small presses and literary magazines are often used as stepping stones, they are more rightly to be considered cornerstones that all other stones ought to be set in reference to.

Gerard Beirne
Fiction Co-editor

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Acclaimed Author Steven Heighton Reading at UNB Fredericton

Poet, novelist, and short-story writer Steven Heighton will be reading from his new novel, Every Lost Country, on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 at 8 pm in the Alumni Memorial Lounge.

 The novel, Every Lost Country, and the collection of poetry, Patient Frame, were published to acclaim in 2010, and a collection of his writing, entitled Workbook: Memos & Dispatches on Writing, is forthcoming in 2011 from ECW. His most recent novel is the story of Lewis Book, a politically strong-willed doctor, who travels to Nepal with his daughter to join a climbing expedition. When the travellers encounter a group of Tibetan refugees attempting to evade Chinese soldiers, Lewis intervenes. He and Amaris, another member of their expedition, are caught up in the events and captured by the Chinese soldiers. The climbers are forced into dangerous circumstances as they work desperately to help their companions. The novel has recently been optioned for film by Rhombus Media.

Steven Heighton is the author of three novels, Shadow Boxer (2000), Afterlands (2005), and Every Lost Country, as well as five books of poetry, including The Ecstasy of Skeptics (1994), Address Book (2004), and Patient Frame (2010). Heighton has received the National Magazine Award gold medal for poetry and fiction, was a finalist for the Trillium Award and the Governor General's Award for Poetry, and received the K. M. Hunter Award for literature.
Most recently he has received the 2011 P.K. Page Founders' Award for Poetry from the Malahat Review for the poem "Jetlag" which is included in his collection Patient Frame.

The reading is presented by the UNB English Department, the Canada Council for the Arts, the UNB Fredericton Bookstore, & The Fiddlehead journal.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Monday, November 14, 2011

RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers: Call for Submissions

The Writers Trust of Canada is accepting submissions for RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. To be eligible a submitter must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, under the age of 35, unpublished in book form and without a book contract, but whose literary work has appeared in at least one independently edited magazine or anthology.

A prize of $5,000 will be awarded to the best collection of short fiction. Two honourable mentions will each receive $1,000 prizes. The deadline for submissions is 30 January 2012.

Submissions should be sent to:
RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers
c/o The Writers' Trust of Canada
90 Richmond Street East, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario, M5C 1P1

For further information visit or contact:
416-504-8222 ext 242 or

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Breathe, Just Breate

I know, I know: I can hardly believe it either. We have to wait another two months for the next issue of The Fiddlehead?! That’s unbearable! Insurmountable! Simply and indefatigably inconceivable! Woe is us.

After tiring of twiddling my thumbs and obsessively checking my mail box, I’ve ventured out into the big bad world to find other ways to while away the time. While strolling the aisles at my local bookstore, I ran across a most peculiar invention called the “novel” (pronounced: naahhh-vuuul). From what I can tell, it’s like an issue of The Fiddlehead, except longer and with only one story; strange stuff (this must be one of those silly side projects authors take on as a reprieve from the serious work of writing short stories). One naahh-vuuul in particular caught my eye: White Teeth by Zadie Smith.

I thought White Teeth was a DIY book about dentistry; what I found instead was one of the most nuanced and sophisticated representations of contemporary immigrant life that I’ve read thus far. Commendations on the novel’s thematic triumphs need not be contrived by this humble author as institutions such as The New Yorker, Guardian and Financial Times have safely lionized this text as one of the most celebrated of the past two decades. But the most striking yet undervalued aspect of White Teeth, from my reading, is Smith’s awareness of the constrictions placed upon writing by those reading it – of the insistent and insufferable question demanded ad naseum, “but what does this mean?"

Smith toys with this nagging demand of the salivating critical public when she writes, “Clara Bowden was magnificently tall, black as ebony and crushed sable, with hair plaited in a horseshoe which pointed up when she felt lucky, down when she didn't. At this moment it was up. It is hard to know whether that was significant.” And that’s it. No rumination on the direction of her hair foreshadowing the direction of her fate, no subliminal message hidden beneath the rough plats of her horseshoe ‘do. And what a fresh breath of air that is.

Don’t misunderstand me: a story must certainly possess artistic merit and thematic gravity to make it memorable, but too often readers (including myself here) ascribe capital M “Meaning” to every single detail, searching for depth where there is none. In this day and age where cultural phenomena such as “Jersey Shore” and “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” have become standard forms of public entertainment, it’s understandable why some seek to ascribe significance to every witty turn of the pen – to which Smith’s White Teeth responds with resounding hilarity: for the love of all things literary, just relax.

Sometimes, a writer isn’t trying to educate you. Sometimes, all they want to do is entertain you. So let them.

Christina Cooke
Editorial Assistant

Charlie Rose interview with Zadie Smith Aug. 2000

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Timothy Taylor Reading at UNB Fredericton

Timothy Taylor, Giller-prize nominated author of Stanley Park, will be reading from his new novel, The Blue Light Project, on Tuesday, November 15th at 8 pm in the Alumni Memorial Lounge.

Taylor's new novel, The Blue Light Project, is the story of a hostage taking at a television studio during the filming of a controversial talent show. The only demand of the man armed with explosives  is an interview with a disgraced journalist. As the media circus unfolds, a former olympic gold medalist and a mysterious street artist named Rabbit are drawn into the events that culminate in a dramatic climax that surprises everyone involved.

Timothy Taylor is the author of three novels, including Stanley Park (2001) and Story House (2006), as well as a collection of short-stories, Silent Cruise (2002). Taylor was awarded the Journey Prize in 2000 for his short story "Doves of Townsend," and has been a finalist or runner-up for six other major national fiction prizes in Canada. His non-fiction work has been widely published in magazines and newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, the National Post, the Vancouver Review, EnRoute Magazine, and a recurring Big Ideas column for the Globe and Mail's Report on Business Magazine.

The reading is presented by the UNB English Department, the Canada Council for the Arts, the UNB Fredericton Bookstore, & The Fiddlehead journal.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fiddlehead Congratulations

Congratulations to Paul Tyler, winner of this year's Archibald Lampman Award for his first collection of poetry A Short History of Forgetting (Gaspereau Press 2010). Two of his poems, "Somewhere near the end of song" and "Manitoba Maples"were published in The Fiddlehead 241 (Autumn 2009).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Come one, Come All ….. The Fiddlehead Contest closes in One Month!

Only one month remaining to enter The Fiddlehead’s 21st Annual Contest!  There’s a total of $5000 in prize monies to be awarded and the winning entries will be published in The Fiddlehead’s spring 2012 issue.

 Remember the deadline is December 1st (postmarked) and all contestants receive a one-year subscription for each entry. For more details check out our website’s contest submission page.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Celebrated Author Antanas Sileika Reading at UNB Fredericton

Author Antanas Sileika will be reading from his new book Underground on Tuesday, October 25th 2011 at Alumni Memorial Hall on the UNB Fredericton Campus.

Antanas Sileika is the author of four novels, including Dinner at the End of the World (1994), Buying on Time (1997), Woman in Bronze (2004) a Globe Best Book of 2004, and Underground (2011). Sileika is the artistic director for the Humber School of Writers in Toronto, and is a past winner of a National Magazine Award

Sileika's new novel, Underground (Thomson Allen & Son, 2011), is the dramatic historical tale of Lukas and Elena, members of an underground Lithuanian resistance movement during the period of Soviet rule. A violent confrontation with a room full of Soviet government workers during their engagement celebration turns Lukas and Elena into folk heroes for their political cause but forces them to flee punishment for their part in the massacre. Lukas and Elena are separated during their escape which forces Lukas, believing Elena killed, to leave the country for a new life in France. A crisis in his home country throws Lukas' new life into disarray and he is thrust back into the fight for his life. The thrilling circumstances of Underground are based on true historical events and elements of the author's family history.
The reading is presented by the UNB English Department, the Canada Council for the Arts, the UNB Fredericton Bookstore & The Fiddlehead. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The 8th Annual Poetry Weekend

I am living in absolute exhilaration and exhaustion from our most recent poetry weekend. Our presiding spirits were this year two creatures who have been at every poetry weekend: Sharon McCartney and Jack the Dog. They conjured magic.

We opened the weekend with a Friday night reading from this year’s UNB writer-in-residence Sue Sinclair. Wonderful beginning.

It was really exciting to see so many first and second books representing many of our finest new poets. I’m making my way through them now with true delight!

I’m grateful for the poets who came from such a distance, so thank you, from Colorado, Leigh Kotsilidis; London, Karen Schindler; Hamilton, Jeffery Donaldson and Amanda Jernigan; Toronto, Daniel Renton, Heather Hessup, and Linda Besner; Ottawa, Rhonda Douglas; Montreal, Asa Boxer; Boston, Daniel Hudon; Grand Manan, Wayne Clifford; Halifax, Warren Heiti and John Barger; and from Newfoundland, James Langer, Mark Callanan, Shoshanna Wingate, Danielle Devereaux, and Carson Butts, and Corey Lavender from somewhere in Ontario, and undoubtedly someone I’ve forgotten.

On Sunday, Ian LeTourneau took our group photo:
From left to right standing: Sharon McCartney, Corey Lavender, Jeffery Donaldson, Mark Callanan, Karen Schindler, Carson Butts, Rhonda Douglas, James Langer, John Barger, Triny Finlay, Aaron Daigle, Ross Leckie, Kathy Mac, Danielle Devereaux, Travis Lane, Wayne Clifford, Nick Thran, Shoshanna Wingate, Matthew Gwathmey, Phillip Crymble, Matt Cornfield, and Zach Alapi.
Seated: Jack the Dog, Ian LeTourneau, Anita Lahey, Amanda Jernigan, Sue Sinclair, Kayla Geitzler, Lynette Adams, Claire Kelly, and Chasity St. Louis.
And here are some more photos:
Anita Lahey showing how big her baby will be,
with Tom looking on skeptically.

Danielle Deveraux and Leigh Kotsilidis:
“That Renton sure can spin the BS.”
James Langer: "Well, we all really know . . ."
Linda Besner: “Isn’t life cool!”
Sharon McCartney and Triny Finlay:
“Ross, we didn’t know you could be funny.”
Shoshanna Wingate: “Why yes,
I was praying to the gods of poetry.”
It turns out Wayne Clifford is a wise old man.  At his feet: John Haney, Amanda Jernigan, Nick Thran, Sue Sinclair, and Warren Heiti.

And Jeffery Donaldson has summed up everyone’s thoughts again:

Sue Sinclair said that
at Ross Leckie’s poetry festival in Fredericton,
“The Gods muttered among themselves.”

Amanda Jernigan said that
at Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“We let our song become our work.”

And Matthew Gwathmey mentioned that
at Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“The song titles read like a lesson in grief.”

Warren Heiti confessed that
at Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“I dreamt I was in a grocery store.”

Zach Alapi commented that
at your poetry festival, Ross Leckie,
“It was the first piece of yourself that was made for me.”

Cory Lavender told us that
at Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“I didn’t say boo.  Not one word.”

Triny Finlay said about
Ross Leckie, at the poetry festival:
“My surprise in watching him emerge.”

Daniel Renton said that
at Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“If they fudge their lines, they ask for a second take.”

Ryan Marshall opined that
Ross Leckie’s poetry festival
“Is like lifting a mirror from a loosening mount.”

Michael Pacey speculated that
Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“Is a compost heap, the engine of circulation, a random deliberate gathering.”

And at Ross Leckie’s poetry festival:
“A leaky tent pitched behind the garage.”

And again at Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“Built not to hold, but to release.”

And furthermore at Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“As if words were just beads on a necklace, strung.”

Karen Schindler praised
Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“Because it makes a room feel larger, and when placed outside, expands a garden.”

Travis Lane said that
Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“We read it, in its context, as a song.”

Emily Skov-Nielson said of
Ross Leckie’s poetry festival:
“This is all you need to hear.”

Aaron Daigle said,
Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“Names glimpsed in passing.”

Gerard Beirne grieved that
Ross Leckie’s poetry festival
“Approaches the hallowed ground, yet never can enter.”

Chasity St. Louis observed that
At Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“They can do nothing but curl in upon themselves.”

Linda Besner said that
At Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“We swung past what we saw.”

Asa Boxer reminisced that
At Ross Leckie’s poetry festival,
“Down we tripped into the third most dreaded circle.”
Thank you to everyone!
Ross Leckie, Editor, The Fiddlehead

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Fiddlehead 249 is now out!

 It’s autumn and The Fiddlehead is gently falling into subscribers’ mailboxes and tumbling through magazine stands across Canada. Found within are a bag full of stories, poems and reviews including new works from Bruce Bond, Dede Crane, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Jeanette Lynes, and Ricardo Sternberg among others.

The cover artwork showcases the brilliant autumnal reds of Anna Cameron’s “Untitled IX.” So warm up some apple cider, curl up in a cozy chair, and leaf through your copy of 249.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fiddlehead News

The Fiddlehead 247 (spring 2011), which contained the winners of the 20th annual contest, received a lovely review from Go take a look!

Also congratulations to Clark Blaise whose new book, The Meagre Tarmac, made the Scotiabank Giller Prize long list. His story, "Brewing Tea in the Dark," which was published in The Fiddlehead 248, is from this collection. There's additional wonderful news for Clark Blaise, The Meagre Tarmac has been shortlisted for the 2011 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. The Globe and Mail has an excerpt from The Meagre Tarmac and a readers' poll on who should win this year's prize (updated 28 October) .

Monday, October 17, 2011

Award-Winning Author Molly Peacock Reading at UNB Fredericton

Celebrated author Molly Peacock will be reading from her new book, The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life's Work at 72 on Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 at 8pm at the Alumni Memorial Lounge on the Fredericton campus of the University of New Brunswick.

Molly Peacock, a poet and a creative non-fiction writer, is the author of The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life's Work at 72 (2011), the life story of Mary Granville Pendarves Delany, the beautiful and talented daughter of a minor branch of a powerful family in the 18th century. Married at seventeen to a drunken, though wealthy, sixty-one-year-old man in the interest of improving the family fortunes, Mary would later cultivate a wide and influential group of friends, developing her artistic abilities and pioneering the art form of mixed-media collage in her wondrous cut-paper flowers. The 985 botanically accurate paper flowers, known as Flora Delanica, are now kept in the British Museum. Peacock explores the nature of creativity and art in this exceptional biography, and the book itself is beautifully designed and features thirty-five full-colour illustrations of Mary Delany's paper flowers.

Molly Peacock has also published six books of poetry, including The Second Blush (2008), and Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems (2002). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, The New Republic, The Paris Review, and The Best of the Best American Poetry. Among her awards are Danforth Foundation, Ingram Merrill Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and New York State Council on the Arts Fellowships.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Award-winning author and filmmaker David Bezmozgis to read at UNB

Award-winning author and filmmaker David Bezmozgis will be reading from his Giller Prize long-listed novel, The Free World, at the Galleries in Memorial Hall on Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 at 8pm.

David Bezmozgis was selected by The New Yorker as one of the twenty writers of fiction under forty years old most likely to be a major writer of his generation.

Latvian-born Canadian Bezmozgis received acclaim for his first collection of fiction, Natasha and Other Stories (2004), which was a New York Times Notable Book, one of the New York Library's 25 Books to Remember for 2004, and was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award (UK), the LA Times First Book Award (US), and the Governor General’s Award (Canada) and has been translated into fifteen languages. Bezmozgis' stories have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Harpers, Zoetrope All-Story, and The Walrus.

Bezmozgis developed his first feature film, Victoria Day, at the Sundance Labs and it premiered in competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, subsequently receiving theatrical release in Canada and a Genie Award for Best Original Screenplay.

The Free World was published in April 2011 in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and Holland. It was announced as a selection for the Giller Prize long list on September 6th, 2011.

The reading is presented by the University of New Brunswick English Department, the UNB Bookstore, The Fiddlehead, and the Canada Council for the Arts. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Fiddlehead is Pleased to Welcome Writers from Across Canada to the 8th Annual Poetry Weekend

The 8th Annual Poetry Weekend opens Friday, September 30th, at Memorial Hall at 8pm with a reading by UNB writer-in-residence Sue Sinclair.

Readings by local poets and writers from across Canada will take place on Saturday and Sunday, October 1st & 2nd, at 11am, 2pm, and 8pm at Memorial Hall

Poets include Amanda Jernigan, Jeffery Donaldson, James Langer, Warren Heiti, Leigh Kotsilidis, Linda Besner, Asa Boxer, Mark Callanan, Shoshanna Wingate, Nick Thran, Anne Compton, Karen Schindler, Rhonda Douglas, Ross Leckie, the ghost of Richard Outram and many more.

The Poetry Weekend is presented by the University of New Brunswick English Department, the UNB Bookstore, The Fiddlehead Journal, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Free refreshments and a cash bar on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reading Series Week of Sept 19: Gary Geddes and Wayne Johnston

2011-2012 Reading Series!

Below is the list of writers scheduled to read at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton during this academic year. All the readings are free! So if you are here in Fredericton (or coming by for a visit), take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to hear great Canadian authors reading from their new works.

Most readings are in the evenings either at Memorial Hall or Alumni Memorial Hall on the University of New Brunswick campus. Please click here for a map of UNB. For each reading we will post reminders or updates in this blog closer to the dates of each reading.
Fall 2011
Gary Geddes 19 Sept Memorial Hall
Wayne Johnston 22 Sept Memorial Hall
Sue Sinclair 30 Sept Memorial Hall
Poetry Weekend 1-2 Oct Memorial Hall
David Bezmozgis 4 Oct Memorial Hall
Molly Peacock 18 Oct Alumni Memorial
Antanas Sileika 25 Oct Alumni Memorial
Timothy Taylor 15 Nov Alumni Memorial
Steven Heighton 23 Nov Alumni Memorial
Winter 2012
Holly Luhning 16 Jan Alumni Memorial
Tammy Armstrong &
Nick Thran
15 Feb Memorial Hall
Lynn Davies &
Sue Goyette
15 Mar Alumni Memorial
Amy Jones &
Rebecca Rosenblum
29 Mar Memorial Hall
Linden MacIntyre 12 Apr Memorial Hall

Friday, August 26, 2011

Looking out the window at Campus House

The Fiddlehead's office space is in Campus House, a small 1950s ranch house in a small wooded area at the edge of the campus. Yesterday this was the view from the managing editor's window.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Toasting the Summer Fiction Issue

A great time was had by all at the Toronto launch of The Fiddlehead’s Summer Fiction issue at the Dora Keogh Pub. It was a perfect setting for relaxing, having a cold drink, and listening to writers reading selections from their Fiddlehead stories and other works.

Pictured below, Leon Rooke and Rebecca Rosenblum entertain the crowd by reading from their Fiddlehead stories “Art of the Pig” and “Dream Inc.”

Photo by Andy E. Williams

Photo by Andy E. Williams
  A big thanks to everyone who came and to Ben McNally Books and the Dora Keogh Pub. It was an amazing and fun event!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Fiddlehead's Summer Issue Launch

 Ben McNally Books is hosting the Toronto launch of The Fiddlehead’s Summer Fiction issue (no. 248). Reading at the event will be The Fiddlehead’s own Fiction Editor, Mark Anthony Jarman, along with Rebecca Rosenblum, Kathleen Brown and Leon Rooke. 

Monday Aug 8 2011

141 Danforth Ave
Toronto ON

If you are in the Toronto area, do drop into the reading, enjoy some mighty fine fiction, and raise a pint in celebration to The Fiddlehead’s Summer Fiction issue!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fiction Editor's Pictures from Ireland

Fiction Editor, Mark Anthony Jarman at the Cork World Book Festival in April, Cork, Ireland.

Cork World Book Fest combines readings by world class writers in a variety of settings with a cultural streetfair: book stalls, music, street entertainment, the spoken word, and more. It is a participative, inclusive event, involving members of e.g. book clubs as well as giving audiences who would not normally attend literary events a chance to experience readings by leading Irish and international writers.

Featured writers in 2011 were Canadians Alistair McLeod and Mark Antony Jarman, Irish writers Claire Keegan and Paul Murray, both of whom had acclaimed novels in 2010 –  plus writers from other countries.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Fiddlehead 248 is Out!

It’s summer time and the living is easy, especially if you have a copy of The Fiddlehead’s all-fiction summer issue! 17 stories are packed inside including "Brewing Tea in the Dark" by Clark Blaise, "Geriatric Arena Grope" by Bill Gaston,  "Cuts" by Katherine Govier, and "Leon" by Rea Tarvydas.

The cover artwork is from Réjean Roy's "Petit Route de Canot 3."  So kick off your sandals, and lean back in your hammock, lounge chair, or canoe and enjoy these wonderful stories and reviews.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

James Langer's Best Poetry Books

As promised during the Radio Fiddlehead podcast, here is a list of my ten favorite poetry collections published in Britain and Ireland over the past decade (in no particular order). This isn't pretending to be a "Best Of" list by any means, so if you're reading this and notice something's missing, feel free to fill in my blanks.

Simon Armitage, The Universal Home Doctor

Alice Oswald, Dart

Paul Muldoon, Maggot

Sean O’Brien, The Drowned Book

Geoffrey Hill, Speech! Speech!

Carol Ann Duffy, Feminine Gospels

Kathleen Jamie, The Tree House

Paul Farley, Tramp in Flames

Glynn Maxwell, The Nerve

Michael Longley, The Weather in Japan

Favorite Debuts: Emma Jones, The Striped World and Nick Laird, To a Fault

James Langer
Poetry Editor, The Fiddlehead

Monday, July 4, 2011

Anita Lahey’s Top 10 Poetry Books by Canadians since 2000

This is “a” Top 10, not “the” Top 10—on another day, other collections may have come more forcefully to mind. Poetry is like that. The list is in order by title, not by rank.

Coal and Roses, P.K. Page (Porcupine’s Quill, 2009)
A collection of Page’s glosas that shows how rich with possibility this form is (in the right hands). Each poem is accompanied by an image of the inspiring poet—the author of the quatrain the glosa is built upon—and a short biography, which, because Page was so widely read, makes this an elegant and unusual tour of a rich cross-section of poets from different cultures and ages. We have 17th-Century duchess Margaret Cavendish, Anna Akhmatova, Jorges Luis Borges, Zbigniew Herbert, Wallace Stevens, Theodore Roethke, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Frederico Garcia Lorca, Don Mckay and Dionne Brand—and we see their influence in Page even as we see her spring away from them without fail, every time, into her own unmatchable voice.

Ishtar Gate, Diana Brebner (McGill Queen’s, 2005)
This contains new, posthumous work as well as selections from Brebner’s three collections of poetry, most notably her CBC Literary Award-winning series “Eleven Paintings by Mary Pratt,” in which gutted salmon gleam on foil, a stuck jar of preserves becomes a metaphor for a stalled life, and “Eggs in an Egg Crate” stand in, surprisingly and poignantly, for lost children. Brebner was a master of subtlety, the unassuming, tautly crafted poem that takes you off the rails without warning, into dangerous territory—into where things are so real as to be almost unbearable.

Loop, Anne Simpson (McClelland & Stewart, 2003)
More ekphrasis here! (I like paintings, and the way they can galvanize a poet’s imagination, and serve as portals to unexpected places.) Simpson gives us “Seven Paintings by Brueghel,” which begin and end with the ominous line (slightly differently punctuated each time), “These watches. Ticking, still. Each hour is cold.” The book closes with a marvelous sequence set in a trailer park that, in this poem, is visited by Kepler, by a burning ship in a bay, by Copernicus, dark matter, the Taj Mahal. Simpson can weave disparate worlds and ideas together smoothly and swiftly, tracing a train of thought as it ricochets around the park, bouncing off trailer after trailer.

The Mechanical Bird, Asa Boxer (Signal, 2007)
Boxer writes the best lobster poem I’ve ever seen—and there are more lobster poems out there than you’d think. He gives lessons on lying that are both funny and painfully true. He gets political, he gets testy, he speaks his mind, and his poems are unfailingly generous toward this species we call the human race. The poem “The Traveller” is like a coda for the poet: “The traveller’s wish is to touch the vanishing point, / to arrive at the crux, to stand in the deepest place.”

Merrybegot, Mary Dalton (Signal, 2008)
An invigorating read—the nearest thing to reading in another language while still reading in English. For these poems are rich with Newfoundland vernacular, and use its rhythms and cadences to great, musical effect. Each poem is a little song. Collectively they make an album cut in the kind of place where every person is like a strange planet unto themselves, while at the same time everyone knows what’s up with everyone else. The eye behind these poems misses nothing. And the voice doesn’t mess around.

Muybridge’s Horse, Rob Winger (Nightwood, 2007)
At heart this is a novel in poetic form, a fictionalized retelling of the life of famous American photographer Eadweard Muybridge—whose life was not for the faint of heart. Aside from revolutionary advances in photography that led to moving images, it involved 1870s San Francisco, a murder trial and travels in Latin America, to start. The writing is sensuous, charged, unflinching, hypnotic. At one point Winger writes, “(plot, plot, plot, plot, plot: / why do these chronologies insist on so much?” But he gets inside the plot nonetheless; he wraps it around us strand by strand, colour by colour, scent by scent. (And it’s also, delightfully, a flip book featuring a tiny galloping horse.)

Noble Gas, Penny Black, David O’Meara (Brick, 2008)
We ran a feature review on this book in Arc—and I agreed wholeheartedly with reviewer Carmine Starnino’s enthusiasm for the depth, tone and range of this book. You find here a combination of journey poems and home poems, and a common thread that comes down to a kind of acceptance that there’s no coming back or getting away—that we’re kind of stuck in a state of being lost. O’Meara feels like one of the most honed voices of my generation. There’s no posturing here, no adopted “poetic” voice, no artificial weight. These poems are as solid (and as mesmerizing) as the ball falling fro m the sky to land in an open glove in “The Throw.”

Penny Dreadful, Shannon Stewart (Signal, 2008)
This bold, inventive page-turner feels essential: it needed to be written, for the poet’s very survival. Stewart borrows the motif of the penny dreadful, a popular 19th-century magazine filled with brutal, sensational tales, to deal with the unreal quality that reality takes on when her morning newspaper starts to fill up with tales of missing prostitutes and the pig farmer we now know was responsible. In one poem, she imagines coming home to find the 63 missing women in her apartment, doing chores and laundry. In another, they speak, like a chorus. In another, all the derogatory names for women are personified: the “cow” speaks, as does the “slut” and the “whore.” The poems are short and quick and rhythmic, often resembling nursery rhymes—though there’s nothing here you’d ever read to a child. You come away from this book with a rage at what can be allowed to happen in our society, and a deep relief that someone has noticed—and that that someone was Stewart.

Pigeon, Karen Solie (Anansi, 2009)
I group Solie with O’Meara as the voice of a generation. Both these poets came on strong with their first books and have now, by their third, matured and deepened in their concerns, and honed their use of language and sense of craft to a point where they can stick-handle a poem into the net nearly every time. Solie writes with a generosity toward humanity, a big-hearted acknowledgement of the trials and tribulations of life, that is unfailingly seductive. I highlight the opening poem in this vein, “Pathology of the  Senses,” which draws us into a stiflingly muggy Toronto where we move for four increasingly desperate pages among a hoard of sufferers through the hot, soupy streets. Likewise “Prayers for the Sick,” which I half think should be posted in every hospital emergency ward in the country.

This Way Out, Carmine Starnino (Gaspereau, 2009)
Another poet of our time who’s building, book by book, toward something lasting, essential and true. This book is permeated by a melancholy that doesn’t detract from its verve or its force. Starnino loves words, worships language, and lets loose with it in such spilleth-over odes as “Pugnax Gives Notice” (about a gladiator who wants to quit), “Our Butcher” and the title poem, an homage to his old Montreal neighbourhood of Parc Ex, “This Way Out.” The most heartbreaking and affecting poems here though are the group of short, simple moments at the end, “The Strangest Things,” snippets really, tiny scenes, Starnino’s attempts to track random triggers to sudden sadness.

Anita Lahey
—Her poetry collection, Out to Dry in Cape Breton, was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ross Leckie’s Best Poetry Books

I decided to take books off my shelf in a bit of an arbitrary fashion, focusing on first books or books that didn’t receive enough attention, in my view.  On another day it would be a different set of books.


Eric MillerIn the Scaffolding.  2005

Miller is one of our very best poets.  This book shows him at the height of his powers.  He uses long sentences that are structured to deliver rhapsodic and complex rhythms.  His metaphors are lush and expressive.  The ideas of his poems move across an impressive range.  In 2007 he returned with The Day in Moss.

Elise Partridge.  Fielder’s Choice.  2002

Few poets mix wit with pain with such subtlety.  There is a remarkable control of rhythm and rhyme in this work.  There have been many dark poems written about death.  “Ways of Going” is clever, fanciful, and almost fun.  Her 2009 book Chameleon Hours is also very fine.

Jeffery DonaldsonGuesswork.  2011

In 1999 Donaldson gave us Waterglass, one of the finest books of formal poetry ever written.  He travels through numerous forms and measures, including syllabics, with such ease that you can miss the formal and rhythmical structures altogether.  In Guesswork, as you might expect from such a title, surprise in tone, mood, idea, rhythm, and form is always around the corner.  The sequence “Torso: Variations on a Theme by Rilke” is astonishing.

Katia GrubisicWhat if red ran out.  2008
This book has the crazy edge of a runaway rototiller.  It makes challenging leaps from image to metaphor and explodes with verbal play.  This book is full-out roller coaster fun . . . except that it can catch you short in poignancy, in sudden slowing meditations on what hurts us most.


I could have listed any of my one hundred favorite American poets, but I wanted to go off the beaten track a little bit, with poets not well known in Canada.

Cynthia HogueOr Consequence.  2010
Hogue’s poems are quiet and suggestive, and they kind of sneak up on you.  You think you’ve discovered the simplicity of them; you think they might be simple, but complex variations of idea can step around behind you and tap you on the shoulder.  “Midnight Sun” is such a poem.  Or Consequence follows her very fine book, The Incognito Body, of 2006.

Tony Hoagland.  Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty.  2010
Hoagland is very well known in the States, but I don’t find many people reading him here, though it was Sue Sinclair who put him on to me in the Nineties with his book Donkey Gospel.  No one explores the confusion of identity and all of its self-deluding dark corners like Hoagland.  No one has such a trenchant view of middle-class life.

Natasha TretheweyNative Guard.  2006
This book won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, so it is very well known in the US.  Trethewey is the daughter of the white Nova Scotian poet Eric Trethewey, who has lived in the US for a good portion of his adult life, and a black woman from the south, Gwendolyn Grimmette.  This book explores all of the awkwardness of race, both the ways in which it is fixed and hammered home, and the ways in which categories of race are fluid and uncertain.  See the poem “Blond.”

Connie VoisineRare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream.  2008
I first heard of Voisine only this winter when hearing her read in Arizona, and I fell in love with her work.  She is originally from northern Maine, that part that is further north than Montreal or Fredericton, and this world was much in the forefront of her 2001 book, Cathedral of the North.  I can’t quite put my finger on what I like so much about High Meadow.  It’s quiet, but it has many sharp corners in the road, many surprising turns of irony.

UK and Ireland

I’m already in trouble for putting the two countries together.  Oh well.

Vona GroarkeJuniper Street.  2006
I really like the way this book combines the bang and clatter of everyday life with moody and redolent metaphors.  There is nothing showy in the book, but neither is it quiet and unassuming.  It is one of those books in which the craft is seamless.

John BurnsideSelected Poems.  2006
One wonderful way to encounter a poet is to read across his career in an exquisite selection.  The Selected ranges across eight books from 1991 to 2005’s The Good Neighbour.  The inside flap describes the book as “a poetry of luminous, limpid grace” with “the charmed half-light of the liminal.”  I’m hooked.  Ok, so this is over-the-top rhetoric.  I know what it’s getting at.  Burnside can be plainspoken to the point of flatness, and then suddenly reveal complex emotions he was palming all along.

Tiffany AtkinsonKink and Particle.  2006
This book is the weird combination of a really smart wide-eyed kid astonished with everything she sees and a street-kid who carries a razor-blade shiv.  The tension in the language keeps the poems tumbling over themselves in chaotic but controlled jerks of rhythm.  Reading them is kind of like watching Chevy Chase fall down stairs.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Radio Fiddlehead: Best Poetry Books of the Previous Decade

Welcome to our Radio Fiddlehead podcasts, now available on our blog. Our most recent is a round table on the best poetry books of the 2000’s featuring James Langer, Sharon McCartney, and Anita Lahey.

In the comments please enter your own lists!  Say why you like the books you are listing. Over the next two weeks we will post lists from Ross Leckie, Anita Lahey, and James Langer and with a list from Sharon McCartney to come later.

Ross Leckie
Editor, The Fiddlehead

Listen to the interview in your web browser 
(Right Click or Control Click on the above link to download mp3 File)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Editor spotted at Frye Festival

Mark Jarman, The Fiddlehead's Fiction Editor, playing the harmonica at this year's Frye Festival in Moncton.
(Photo credit: Emmanuel Albert)