Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy Holidays from The Fiddlehead!

The Fiddlehead office is now closed until the new year, so we'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy holidays and all the best for 2013!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Resource About Fred Cogswell, Former Fiddlehead Editor

Tony Tremblay of St. Thomas University has put together a thorough digital resource of The Fiddlehead's former editor Fred Cogswell, who is an important New Brunswick literary figure. Visit the site, which includes biographical information, selected works and correspondence, and so much more. Be sure to check out specifically the detailed history of Cogswell's involvement with The Fiddlehead.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Few Literary Competition Deadlines Approach on the Horizon

We're busy here at The Fiddlehead office sorting through our 22nd annual literary contest (which just closed on December 1), logging in entries and sending out new subscription copies. If you missed our deadline, have no fear, there are a few other upcoming literary competitions that we'd like to spread the word about.
 
"The Writers’ Trust is now accepting submissions for the $5,000 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. The award alternates each year between short fiction and poetry, this year it will be given to a writer under the age of 35 for an outstanding unpublished work of poetry. Finalists will receive $1,000 and have their work published in print and digital formats. The winner will be announced at a special event in Toronto in late spring. The deadline for submissions is January 30, 2013."

For more information, visit The Writers' Trust website.

There's also:
 
The Writers' Union of Canada hosts its 20th annual Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers with a prize of $2,500. The winner and finalists will have their stories submitted to three Canadian magazine publishers for consideration. Entry Fee is $29 per entry; cheque or money order should be made payable to The Writers' Union of Canada. The deadline is March 1, 2013.
 
For more information, visit The Writers' Union of Canada website.

Monday, December 10, 2012

CWILA Names Sue Sinclair First Critic-in-Residence

Over the weekend, the Canadian Women in Literary Arts (CWILA) announced that Sue Sinclair will be its inaugural critic-in-residence. According to the press release, the search committee chose Sinclair "because of her commitment to review the work of new writers, works in English and French, and works of a variety of genres, in multiple reviewing platforms."

"The committee of editors and writers is confident that Sue Sinclair will provide a strong voice for CWILA and for women critics and writers in Canada."

Sue Sinclair is the author of four books of poetry and currently lives in Montreal. Of course, she is no stranger to readers of The Fiddlehead. She has been a long-time contributor as a book reviewer and has served as a judge of our annual contest. She is also a past UNB student, and last year she served as UNB's writer-in-residence. At that time The Fiddlehead's editorial assistant Kayla Geitzler had the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation for our Radio Fiddlehead podcast series.

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

Congrats Sue!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Halifax Celebration of East Coast and West Coast issues!

On Thursday, November 29, join nine Atlantic Canadian authors in Halifax, NS, as they read their contributions to The Malahat Review's East Coast issue and a selection from The Fiddlehead's West Coast issue.

The event takes place at The Wardroom on the University of King's College campus at 7pm. (See poster on left.)

Both issues will be available for sale. The event is free and open to the public.

Fiddlehead West Coast contributor Steve Noyes Featured in Podcast

Steve Noyes was recently interviewed by University of Victoria's CFVU radio for their "U in the Ring" program, where he talked generally about his work and read from his poetry featured in The Fiddlehead's West Coast issue.

Listen to the podcast on The Malahat's website here.

And while you're at it, don't forget to check out our special blog with The Malahat that contains all kinds of extras not found in the East Coast and West Coast issues, including reviews, interviews, and more podcasts.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

CBC Radio British Columbia features West Coast Issue

CBC British Columbia recently featured The Fiddlehead and The Malahat Review on their weekday afternoon radio program All Points West.

State of the Arts columnist Jennifer Chrumka examined both the West Coast and East Coast issues, and she talks about the collaboration.


On the podcast, you'll also hear Ross Leckie, editor of The Fiddlehead, speak about Atlantic literature, and The Malahat's editor John Barton and University of Victoria professor Nicholas Bradley discuss West coast literature.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The UNB Reading Series Presents Stephanie Bolster and Susan Gillis

The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to a special poetry reading by Stephanie Bolster and Susan Gillis. The reading will take place on Tuesday, November 20 at 8pm in Alumni Memorial Lounge, UNB.

Stephanie Bolster will read from her latest work, A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth, whose poems, according to one reviewer, “read like small essays, and the finest end so wonderfully, just before they end, leaving so much more said by remaining unsaid.” She is the winner of such prestigious prizes as the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Archibald Lampman Award, and the Gerald Lampert Award.

Susan Gillis will read from The Rapids, a collection of poems that like the river its title invokes, is full of sudden shifts – a polyphony of surges and eddies and remarkable connections. She takes us from a balcony high over the St. Lawrence River in downtown Montreal, upstream to the Lachine Rapids, and beyond, to landscapes as far apart as Greece and the B.C. coast. Susan is the recipient of the Quebec Writers' Federation's A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The UNB Reading Series Presents Margot Livesay

The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to a special reading by Margot Livesey. The reading will take place on Thursday, November 8 at 8pm in Alumni Memorial Lounge, UNB.

Margot Livesey will read from her seventh and latest novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy. Margot has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Artists' Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts. Margot is currently a distinguished writer-in-residence at Emerson College.

Alice Sebold says, "Every novel of Margot Livesey's is, for her readers, a joyous discovery. Her work radiates with compassion and intelligence and always, deliciously, mystery."

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fiddlehead Radio: A Discussion with Joan Clark


UNB graduate student Kyle Connelly with Joan Clark,
UNB Writer-in-Residence for 2012-13
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with acclaimed Canadian author and current University of New Brunswick writer-in-residence Joan Clark. Our discussion moved from her early career in Alberta up to her novel-in-progress (which is set in Sussex, NB) and the state of Canadian publishing.

Joan Clark is a Member of the Order of Canada and the author of two short story collections, four novels, six novels for younger readers, and three picture books. She lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

- Kyle Connelly
Editorial Assistant

(Right Click or Control Click on the above link to download mp3 interview.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Successful Launch!

On October 25, The Fiddlehead and The Malahat Review partnered up to launch the west coast and east coast editions of their magazines in Fredericton after two years of planning. Eight writers published in The Malahat's east coast issue were on hand to read from their contribution and to tease listeners with excerpts chosen from The Fiddlehead's west coast issue.

The Malahat plans a similar launch in Victoria November 12.

Visit our Facebook page to see more photos!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Fiddlehead's West Coast Issue is Here!


Fiddlehead Editor Ross Leckie & Malahat editor John Barton
hold copies of both issues in front of The Fiddlehead office
 And we launch it tonight along with The Malahat Review's East Coast issue!

This special event takes place at 8pm in the Bailey Auditorium, Tilley Hall, UNB Fredericton. Refreshments will be served; doors open at 7:30.

Hosted by the editors of both magazines, Ross Leckie of The Fiddlehead and John Barton of The Malahat, there will be many contributors to the east coast issue to read from both magazines, including Kerry-Lee Powell, M. Travis Lane, Claire Kelly, Gerard Beirne, Lynn Davies, Anne Compton, Michael Pacey, and Ian LeTourneau.

Copies of both issues will be available for sale (cash or cheque). This event is free and everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Fiddlehead and The Malahat launch new issues October 25!

On October 25, join The Fiddlehead and The Malahat Review, two of Canada’s most respected literary journals, as they present their West Coast and East Coast editions. We've also collaborated on a blog, which features expanded and original content! Visit it here!

The Fiddlehead surveys West Coast writing and The Malahat Review shines a lighthouse beam on East Coast writing. A number of authors will be present to read from these two journals, and the event will be hosted by Ross Leckie, editor of The Fiddlehead, and by John Barton, editor of The Malahat.

The event takes place at 8pm in the Bailey Auditorium, Tilley Hall, UNB. Refreshments will be provided. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Copies of both magazines will be available for purchase by cash or cheque.

Thanks to our sponsor

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Our Summer Issue Gets Reviewed at NewPages.Com

Over at NewPages.com, an online resource for independent arts, reviewer Julie J. Nichols has high praise for our recent all-poetry summer issue. This is how she sums up her thoughts:
Here there are ninety-nine poems, thirty-seven poets, Canadian favorites and newcomers, a thousand images to transport our small perceptions in all dimensions. If I leave you with any image it should be of yourself, buying this issue and re-forming your world as you devour and inhale it page by page — a delicious drowning.
Read her full review here!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The UNB Reading Series Presents John Barton

The 2012-13 UNB Reading Series is proud to present John Barton, who returns to Fredericton to read from his newly released collection, For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin: Selected Poems.

Drawn from nine collections published over the last 30 years, the 38 poems in this retrospective reveal the poetic accomplishments of John Barton. This selection embraces his passion for art, literature, the city and nature, and it explores the role of love in contemporary society.

John Barton is the editor of The Malahat Review. He spent the 2010-11 academic year as UNB's Writer-in-residence. At that time, The Fiddlehead's editorial assistant Peter Forestell sat down with him for an interview.

You can listen to that Radio Fiddlehead podcast here.

The reading takes place on October 24 at 8pm in Tilley Hall's Bailey Auditorium. Books will be available for purchase.

The reading is free and open to the public. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Our Fiction Editor Mark Jarman in the Spotlight

Our fiction editor Mark Jarman is featured over at Salty Ink as the 'plug' of a "Pitch and Plug." Salty Ink's Chad Pelley asked Elisabeth de Mariafi, the author of a new collection How to Get Along With Women and a recent Fiddlehead contributor (Autumn 2011, no. 249), to pitch her book to readers and plug another writer's book. She chose not one, but two of Mark Jarman's collections, Dancing Nightly in the Tavern and My White Planet. But don't take our word for it, go read Elisabeth's thoughts at Salty Ink for yourself.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Don't Judge This Book By Its Title: A Review of J.R. Helton's Drugs

The subject matter of J.R. Helton’s Drugs (Seven Stories Press) might at first appear self-evident, but it is the combination of imbibed adventures, personal struggle, and the exploration of the effects various drugs have on the individual and his/her place in society that make this fictionalized memoir a layered, gripping read.

In Drugs, Helton takes readers inside the mind and experiences of Jake, a functional drug user who, from his licentious beginnings as a teenager, makes no apologies for his chemical indulgences, despite growing up in what could be construed by the casual reader as the fulfilment of the American Dream:
I was a straight A honor roll student in Cypress High School, a serious athlete, the captain and leader of my varsity basketball team. There were many pictures of my attractive girlfriend and me—the friendly, smiling, charming guy—in the high school yearbook.
Thus begins Helton’s novel, and we also learn from the outset that Jake has various jobs outside of school and works on his drawings during solitary sessions in his room—a hint of his doppelganger artistic side that is further developed as Drugs progresses. In other words, Jake is the guy everyone was jealous of in high school, the rare scholar-athlete who is also somehow socially adept, and it is precisely this character sketch—the All-American teen who has everything going for him—that makes Jake’s decent into drug abuse so believable.

While Jake unremarkably (but still compellingly) begins his life of substance abuse through the excessive consumption of marijuana with his groundskeeper boss, Kevin, his transition to cocaine—the novel’s early second act—quickly descends into a darker recess of experiences and human consciousness. At this early juncture it is tempting to ask of Jake, “why abuse drugs; what is the impetus?” to which Helton’s voice seems to firmly reply “why not?” Perhaps it is mere curiosity or the omnipresence and accessibility of narcotics, but Helton skilfully avoids the pitfall of suggesting that every user turns to drugs as a product of negative circumstances.

Of course, many of Jake’s experiences throughout the novel will strike readers as starkly negative, but there is always an undercurrent of humour or the absurd that balances the genuine danger and self-destruction that pervades the novel. As Jake and his young wife, Susan, move in with their cocaine dealer, Corky, and his girlfriend, Jill, things get progressively strange as Jake accompanies Corky on his drugs runs and watches his “friend”/dealer brutally beat up an associate for lying about his alleged brother actually being his cousin.

It is this sense of the irrational providing justification for a slew of violent, destructive, or sexual acts that underlies Jake’s journey through altered states of consciousness. After an extended liaison with lecherous cocaine couple James and Mercedes, Jake’s marriage to Susan unravels amidst their increasingly problematic drug habits and inabilities to sustain their lifestyle or cope with reality. Infidelity and, more significantly, the inability to honestly communicate pervade Jake’s relationship with his wives (and women in general) throughout the novel, rendering the female characters vehicles for Jake’s self-destruction, which ebbs and flows with the rush of drug use, as seen when Jake does cocaine for the last time after marrying a woman named Karen:
Anxiety began to slowly creep into my chest as I worried about my new job, my new home, my new bills, my new wife, or that I was still somewhat in love with my old wife, that I was still working in a business I hated, that we were always short on money, that I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, how could I make a living this way and still have time to write, how impossible was this becoming already? And this messy last wedding I’d just had, Jesus Christ, my father fighting with both me and my new wife, yelling, he and I threatening each other with blows at the reception, it was obvious this new woman loved confrontation, egging on my parents, plus neither of them thought she was good for me, and even worse, I knew this to be true already, that I had made a typical rebound marriage rookie mistake, I shouldn’t have done this, getting married, doing coke, why did I do it again?
Here, Helton’s frenetic prose mimics the frantic and desperate logic of a cocaine-induced thought process. It is not enough to describe the effects of the drug or relay a disturbingly tale of debauchery; Helton combines the fantastical drug yarn—in the mould of Burroughs and Selby—with the support of stylistic elements that reflect altered states of consciousness. Whether it is through sentence structure, imagery, fragmentation, or run-on ranting, Drugs offers surprisingly subtle stylistic tricks at nearly every turn.


If Jake’s second wife, Karen, loves confrontation, then the histrionics of their life and marriage are aptly reflected in the alcohol act of Drugs, including a tempestuous stretch of having Karen’s best friend, Heather, live with them. At this juncture, Helton writes of Jake, “I was still in my early thirties and virile, or just more interested in sex as a daily respite or escape. If I didn’t have sex with a woman each day, I’d masturbate to feel that brief high of an orgasm, a release leading to some small, short relaxation, usually twice a day.” Naturally, living with two women wears on Jake’s addictive and obsessive personality, and a life-threatening accident on his residence—The Farm—spirals into further alcohol and prescription drug abuse.

Up to this point, Helton has hinted at Jake’s artistic side and mostly latent desire to be a writer. While the reader has not seen concrete evidence or a manifestation of this artistic yearning, Helton drops enough hints to prepare one for Jake’s revelation while on mushrooms and standing on his back balcony, which provides one of the novel’s most memorable passages:
A feeling of deep comfort and profound confidence slowly melted into my skull and limbs. I am an artist, I thought. For the very first time, I truly felt it. It mattered little what others thought of my work or me; it mattered not at all. The point was the way I was now looking at the world, the same curious way I had once looked at so much of the world as a boy, as something to copy, something to draw, to paint, and reproduce. I suddenly realized, for so many years, I had just been afraid. I had lacked the simple and basic confidence I’d once had as a child. Now, on this balcony, my worries over my work all seemed so utterly foolish, pedestrian, and dull.
As Jake basks in this moment of artistic realization, the reader is of course painfully aware that such thoughts are the product of a mushroom-induced high. But in looking at the simplicity of stucco buildings from his balcony, the mundane image and directness of Helton’s prose makes one wonder whether amidst Jake’s altered consciousness there just might be a hint of genuine perception and understanding. It is significant that this moment occurs after a night of communion with Dean, Jake’s best friend from high school—another thinking man’s jock who provides the deep, interpersonal relationship the novel demands and that Jake is unable to find or express with the female characters. As Jake briefly abuses mushrooms to the point of negating any positive experience with his new squeeze, Patricia, Dean represents a stable and constant force in his life, even if their communion is consistently laced with drug abuse and bonding through altered states of consciousness. Still, Jake can express his hopes and fears to Dean, another functional drug user who, “Like me [Jake], he was a critical thinker, suspicious already of the hollow hypocrisy of the American Dream.”

After securing a job as a reputable ESL professor, Jake decides to drop some MDMA before his final class of the semester. Arriving at campus several hours early, Jake’s altered state precipitates a desire to connect with Dean, and the ensuing email correspondence is rambling, revealing, and ultimately honest. Interestingly, the correspondence where Jake reveals the most about his life philosophy and personal beliefs is conducted via a medium that combines both immediacy and distance. An apt metaphor for the struggle Jake battles throughout the novel of what constitutes genuine self-expression, the email conversation with Dean hints at the limitless emotional landscape of Drugs, while also offering a stark reminder of the true isolation that pervades the novel, a realization Jake comes to after reading Dean’s cyber-reply:
I looked across my classroom and realized he was right. As hard and sarcastic as I was, I did still believe [in the ability to find meaning], and it wasn’t just the drug that made it so. That said, I was relieved when the class ended, happy at the thought of not having to see anyone else now for almost a month of free time, when I would be able to drop my public mask for an extended period, returning to my solitary and personal existence, with my books and my little family, away from this world, in the comfort of my home.
In Drugs “home” means multiple things, and the escape Jake describes could be literal sober isolation or further descent into intoxication. While it would be simplistic and lazy to label and categorize the narrative arc of Drugs in terms of Jake’s consumption of everything from opium to canisters of nitrous oxide (seriously), such an approach ignores the skilful ambiguity of what is transpiring. Are Jake’s “moments” with Dean actually genuine, or are they temporary instances of sloppily expressed love and admiration? Well, they could be both, or neither. What Drugs offers instead of concrete answers to the larger existential questions that serve as the novel’s backdrop are moments that are genuine insofar as they are catalogues and storehouses of experience. Thus, each episode, vignette, or period of Jake’s journey is what it is, and the beauty of it all is that they can be simultaneously depressing, terrifying, and ecstatic. It all depends on perception.

So don’t judge or label Drugs by its title, the wicked cover design by Robert Crumb (how cool is that, though?), or the scintillating and insane narrative arc. Instead, adopt the reflective mindset Helton adheres to at the novel’s end, soaking in the positives and negatives of his experiences, always reflective with a realization that there are no simple answers, or straightforward explanations.

Want to read Helton in French? Check out this promo video for the 13e note release of his book.

By Zachary Alapi
Editorial Board

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Scenes from 2012 UNB Poetry Weekend


Photo courtesy of Brian Bartlett
 Visit our Facebook page to view photos snapped during this year's UNB Poetry Weekend, which took place September 29-30, 2012.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

UNB Poetry Weekend!

The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to Poetry Weekend, a two day celebration of poetry that includes readings by Governor’s General and Griffin award-winning poets. Readings will take place on Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30, at 11am, 2pm, and 8pm in Memorial Hall, UNB. A tentative list of readers and schedule appears below.

A major highlight in this, the 9th annual gathering of poets, is the Saturday evening launch of Icehouse Poetry, an new imprint of Goose Lane Editions.
   
Poetry Weekend is presented by The UNB Department of English, The Bookstore, The Fiddlehead, The Canada Council for the Arts, Goose Lane Editions, and The League of Canadian Poets.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Saturday, Sept 29

11am
Jan Zwicky
Emily Skov-Nielsen
Richard Kemick             
Martin Ainsley                  
Sue Sinclair                   
Chasity St. Louis             
Patrick Leath               
Gerry Beirne                   

2pm
Ryan Marshall                  
Amanda Jernigan                  
Sharon McCartney              
Michael Pacey                  
Brian Bartlett                   
Jeffery Donaldson              
Kathy Mac                  

*****Ice House Poetry Launch 7pm @Ice House
Stewart Cole & Patrick Warner

8pm 
Steve Noyes                   
Shane Neilson                   
Nick Thran                   
Travis Lane                   
Katia Grubisic                   
Stewart Cole                   
Patrick Warner                   


Sunday, Sept 30

11am
Ross Leckie
Stewart Cole
Ian LeTourneau
Matthew Gwathmey
Peter Frieswick
Sarah Bernstein
Triny Finlay
Michael Jessome

2pm
Chantelle Rideout
Patrick Warner
Daryll Whetter
Steve Noyes
Phillip Crymble
Karen Schindler
Claire Kelly

8pm
Alex Boyd
Vanessa Moeller
Darren Bifford
Matt Tierney
Jim Johnstone
Mat Henderson
Jan Zwicky

Monday, September 24, 2012

CWILA Critic-in-Residence Application Deadline November 1

Attention female Canadian writers: there's an exciting opportunity from our friends at Canadian Women in the Literary Arts (CWILA) to be a critic-in-residence. Here's their call for applications:
If you're a female Canadian writer (poet, novelist, storyteller, scholar) who'd like to raise awareness of women’s literary and critical presence in Canadian letters, we hope you'll submit your critic-in-residence application to info@cwila.com by November 1, 2012.
The resident critic will work on critical essays and/or book reviews and submit them to one or more Canadian review venues (print or web). CWILA also archives the work, which will be available at cwila.com following publication elsewhere, copyright permitting. If there's time, the resident critic is encouraged to support a climate of critical responsiveness in Canadian letters with a collaborative or community-based project. The residency is virtual, so the writer is free to work from home. Please visit cwila.com for full details.

To apply, please send a letter of intent to describe your project, the venue (or venues) you plan to submit to, a one-page CV and a short sample of critical work to info@cwila.com by November 1. A $3,000 stipend will be awarded in December.
We encourage applications from genderqueer writers, indigenous writers, as well as other women and/or genderqueer writers of colour.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The UNB Reading Series Presents Acclaimed Writers Joan Clark, Ruth Roach Pierson, and Maureen Hynes

The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to a literary reading by acclaimed writers Joan Clark, Ruth Roach Pierson, Maureen Hynes. The reading will be held on Friday, Sept 21, 2012 at 8pm in the Alumni Memorial Lounge on the UNB Fredericton Campus.

Joan Clark is writer-in-residence at UNB from September 2012 to April 2013. She is available to the public and to make an appointment contact her at joan.clark@unb.ca or at 506-452-6356. Joan is the multiple-award-winning author of several novels, short story collections for adults and novels for young readers. Her last adult novel, Latitudes of Melt, was nominated for the 2002 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2001 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, Canada-Caribbean, and was a New York Times Notable Book.

Ruth Roach Pierson is a retired academic and award-winning poet. Her poems have appeared in ARC, CV2, Event, The Fiddlehead, The Literary Review of Canada, The Malahat Review, MIX Magazine, Pagitica, Pottersfield Portfolio, Prism International, Queen’s Feminist Review, Quills, and Room of One’s Own as well as a number of anthologies. Her book of poems, Aide-Mémoire (2007), was named a finalist for the 2008 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry.

Maureen Hynes is the poetry editor for Our Times magazine and the author of two books of poems. Her work has been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards and appears in Best Canadian Poetry 2010. She is a past winner of the Petra Kenney Poetry Award (London, England), and her book, Rough Skin (1995), won the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry.

The reading is presented by the UNB English Department, UNB Faculty of Arts, the Canada Council for the Arts, Arts NB, the UNB Fredericton Bookstore, & The Fiddlehead.
Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

2012-2013 Reading Series!

Below is a list of writers scheduled to read at the University of New Brunswick in the upcoming academic year, sponsored by the UNB English Department, the UNB Bookstore, the Canada Council for the Arts, The Writers Trust of Canada, and The Fiddlehead. All readings are free and open to the public! If you are here in the Fredericton area (or visiting), then take advantage to hear these great Canadian authors reading from their latest 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. Look for additional details in this space leading up to each reading.

Fall 2012
Joan Clark, Ruth Roach Pierson & Maureen Hynes21 Sept Alumni Memorial
Poetry Weekend29-30 SeptMemorial Hall
Margot Livesey8 NovAlumni Memorial
Stephanie Bolster & Susan Gillis20 NovAlumni Memorial
Winter 2013
Ami McKay22 JanAlumni Memorial
Madeline Thien5 FebAlumni Memorial
Clark Blaise12 MarAlumni Memorial

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A New Website to Follow, Plus Exciting News from a Recent Contributor

Want to keep updated on the literary culture of New Brunswick, the home province of The Fiddlehead? Our fiction co-editor Gerard Beirne has begun curating a website devoted entirely to New Brunswick writing, The New Brunswick Literary Times. In the website's own words: 
The province of New Brunswick has a rich literary history. The New Brunswick Literary Times provides up-to-date news of writers from or currently living in New Brunswick in a magazine format via articles available online.
One recently featured article caught our attention: an interview at Open Book Ontario with former long-time poetry editor Robert Gibbs.

* * *

The Fiddlehead is pleased to report that Orlando Ricardo Menes, a contributor to our recent all-poetry summer issue, has recently won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize for Poetry. His winning manuscript, Fetish, contains the two poems we published in No. 252, "Parable" and "Panegyric for the Condor." Congratulations Orlando!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Website Update

Our website is now updated with information about our new issue, the special all-poetry Summer 2012 issue. You can find samples from some of the poets featured, along with a full list of contributors, and details about our 22nd annual contest, which closes on December 1.

Monday, August 20, 2012

“Deviance is a Quality I Admire”: An Interview with Gerard Beirne, The Fiddlehead’s Fiction Co-Editor


Gerard Beirne

Over at The Review Review, our fiction co-editor Gerard Beirne chats with Hadley Catalano about his advice for writers, the art of storytelling, and how The Fiddlehead stays fresh and young after all these years, among other topics. Here's an excerpt:

   HC: The narrative path is made to be broken. Do you see fictional short stories taking a completely different route, following a completely different structure in the future? And if so, what might that narrative structure look like?

    GB: “A completely different structure?" No. The form of storytelling has evolved naturally. We may sometimes shake it up a bit, rearrange its parts, but at the end of the day, to do its job, to convey meaning to other human beings it requires a form that humans are receptive to . . . .

Go read the rest of “Deviance is a Quality I Admire.”

Read more about Gerard’s latest book, Games of Chance, at his blog about it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Fiddlehead Summer Poetry Issue (No. 252) has Arrived

We here at The Fiddlehead hope your summer is going well. It`s about to get a whole lot more summery, though, as our special summer poetry issue is on its way to your mailbox. Look for it soon. Enjoy 192 pages packed with poetry and reviews: pure sunlight and summer breezes on every page!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Can a Young Writer Speak?


John Keats 1795-1821
A few months ago I had the honour to read a story of mine publicly at an undergraduate conference. The reading went well and after a hearty St. Patrick's Day celebration it would have escaped my memory besides a short note on my CV. However, a friend, and now my co-editor on our zine aptly named "What Killed Keats," enjoyed the story and encouraged me to show it to our philosophy professor. My professor promised nothing beyond reading it, so I was surprised when I got an email a month or two later describing the flaws in the story in a laborious critique one would expect to see in a negative review. The critique differed from most feedback in that it was more like in-depth criticism and it was exclusively and bitingly negative except for one line at the end to encourage me to continue writing. Jan Zwicky claims in her essay “The Ethics of the Negative Review” that a negative review is a “Squelching of self and creativity,” but for me my first semblance of a negative review was a grand inspirational moment, a first milestone to becoming a writer. Someone had taken my work to be worth criticizing on a higher level than mere feedback and deemed it to be worth spending the time to criticize. That was a great compliment.

No one appreciates it when someone decides that they know what is best for them. Gillian Jerome states that CWILA supports stronger critical awareness of marginalized voices when a young writer's voice has not been heard. From a young writer's perspective, Zwicky's essay is written in a maternal fashion, suggesting that she has to save writers from the negative reviewer. She claims negative reviews have prevented writers from publishing when she says that poets are sensitive to their environment. She attempts to speak for young writers when young writers were never included in the conversation. She wants to protect young writers from negative reviewers like a parent protects children from a bully, when all I'm saying is that it is more complicated. I acknowledge that I write from a male point of view on criticism and I don't want to attack Zwicky; I only take issue with Zwicky attempting to speak for me.

I have found that a young writer has to fight hard for any useful criticism, and any movement against negative criticism is deeply worrying for me. I began writing at sixteen and I've run a gauntlet of workshops, so I know firsthand that it is hard to give—and almost impossible to find—good criticism. Praise can be found easily and in my experience has never helped me improve my writing.  I write with Queer characters predominantly, so in my experience, positive criticism is more often than not patronizing, while negative criticism shows that someone takes what I have to say seriously. I look to negative reviews to learn what the reviewer thinks is stale or overdone and what doesn't work in a piece. Therefore I have the most to lose under the arguments of Zwicky's essay. I agree that criticism that focuses on personal attacks and so-called “scorched earth tactics” is not helpful for anyone, but Zwicky never defines what she means by a negative review and this makes me anxious.

To be frank, Zwicky oversimplifies publishing by casting the writer as a hero who has to persevere amid criticism. I always look back to a workshop I took in high school with the then UNB writer-in-residence Gerard Beirne. One of my friends was a talented writer who had a completed novel manuscript and had asked Gerard for advice. After working with her for several months, he suggested to her that she should delay publishing when she had been convinced that she had to publish. His advice to everyone is that it takes a long time to have work that's worth publishing and that you should never rush into publishing. He has always used solid examples of writers whose work has progressed and now look back on their early work with embarrassment, even if it is well-written. However, other writers thought that she should just publish if she had something that was worth publishing. Both views were still valid, and although I personally agree with Gerry, the conflict shows how one view of publishing cannot know what's best for a young writer.

All I ask is for established writers to keep in mind that they can't know what's best for young writers. I appreciate the amazing level of effort and resources put towards young writers, but I do think there are problems. Technological advances such as e-publishing have been touted endlessly as a great resource for young writers, but the negatives are always glossed over. Although some of the new technology is amazing and has potential, I don't think that the next generation of young writers is better off. If a young writer publishes something online, then it will never disappear. Imagine the nightmare for a writer to become successful only to have their writing from when they were fifteen emerge. It is infuriating to see articles on e-publishing act as if they have discovered self-publishing when zines and other non-traditional forms of media have always existed. Publishing in a zine was never given as an option or even discussed in any of the writing and publishing workshops I took, but zines are a valuable resource for young writers. Zines are disposable and limited; they can be distributed to those interested in writing and can be kept for yourself, not for the whole world to see. My father still has a few of his first self-published chapbooks and looks on them fondly. Zines can give young writers an independent voice to speak for themselves, but it is another matter if anyone will listen.

Kelly Jarman
Fall 2011/Winter 2012 Fiddlehead Intern

For more information about zines, visit Broken Pencil.
For more information about "What Killed Keats," email the editors.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

cStories: Read Mark Anthony Jarman's story for free!

Thomas Allen Publishers and Cormorant Books have a new ebook singles program called cStories,which will allow readers to purchase individual short stories and instantly download them to their favorite digital devices. As part of the"Get into Our Shorts" promotional launch of cStories, the story "A Nation Plays Chopsticks" by The Fiddlehead's fiction co-editor Mark Anthony Jarman  is being serialized and available for free online both at Quill and Quire and the National Post's Afterword blog.

There are other free stories available from authors Sarah Selecky, Russell Wangersky, Jessica Westhead, Aaron Bushkowsky, Carol Windley, Charlotte Gill, and Andrew J. Borkowski. Check out the cStories "Get into Our Shorts" promotional website for more information.

Congratulations to Nick Thran


Congratulations to Nick Thran! His book Earworm won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry (English Language).

Nick was a poetry co-editor for The Fiddlehead this past year. His most recent publication in The Fiddlehead was in no. 244, the summer 2010 poetry issue.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Taking Leave: Mindful Self-Reproach & the Repudiation of Cultural Gender Expectations in Danielle Deveraux’s “Playthings”

The accolades for “Cardiogram”, the eponymous poem of Danielle Devereaux’s 2011 Baseline Press debut short collection have been many. From "Cardiogram"'s initial publication in The Fiddlehead 244 and subsequent inclusion in The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2011, to the attention it has received from reviewers at Salty Ink, Literatured.com, and elsewhere, it’s abundantly clear that this little poem has legs. It’s no accident that the lion’s share of critical praise of the collection has landed at this poem's feet, as it’s poignant, darkly comic, handsomely crafted, and, with apologies to “Mainland Man,” the consensus tour de force of the collection.

That said, much like the forlorn, love-sick heart Devereaux expertly conflates with a hopelessly selfish and perpetually needy pre-schooler within its lines, “Cardiogram” demands so much of our attention that we might well be forgiven for overlooking and failing to celebrate the many other truly memorable poems included in the chapbook.  It’s true, of course, that a handful of these have found homes in some of the more eminent Canadian literary journals, and in that respect, managed to find an audience on their own merit, but the one that most interests me as a reviewer, and that, to my knowledge, has generated the least amount of critical interest, is “Playthings,” the longest and quite possibly the most ambitious and demanding poem in the collection.

What we’re struck by first in this difficult, beguiling, and wilfully slippery poem is the cautionary and authoritative tone of the narrative voice:

Spend too much time playing, dreaming your
little-girl dreams with hair clips, fake
lipstick, mirror-mirror, the [b]right pink glitter
wand and bam! Your legs will become so thin,

so long, they’ll barely support the weight
of your new breasts ... 

That this disapproving and even patronizing admonition should be followed immediately by “but never mind. Think of the shoes:/open-toed peach stilettos, sweet/little white pumps with pink at the heel and toe” establishes an overriding dichotomous (and perhaps even trichotomous) imperative within the poem that continues to play out (pun intended) for the duration.

Now, it may well be that the latter excerpt is meant to be considered as an extension of the opening reprimand, as the narrator’s offhand remark some four lines later “[s]o what if your mother’s a German/porn doll, you’re better than her,” can certainly be read as an ironic means of furthering the initial condemnation. But what we need to consider is to whom the poem is being addressed. While it can be read as outwardly directed (i.e., a warning to impressionable elementary school-girls), or as an address to the doll itself and all that entails, it should primarily be considered an interior monologue wherein a reckoning takes place between mindful self-reproach and the narrator’s more primal impulses towards the mesmerizing manufactured iconography of perceived female beauty and glamour within our culture.

The ironic tone throughout creates the distance and separation necessary to facilitate believable disdain, but Devereaux appears to intentionally complicate the poem’s chastising directive by indulging in an almost fetishistic labelling celebration of all the accoutrements of the Barbie brand by using precisely the kind of descriptive language developed by predatory marketing executives:

The Peaches and Cream ball gown, the Day-to-Night
Hot-pink business suit and your fave, the prom queen
Pretty in pink, hand over the tiara, dream dress.

If nothing else, this predilection indicates an immersive knowledge of the product line, and one, we gather, that is no longer wanted or welcome. Ultimately, the poem provides a forum in which the reader bears witness to an extrication or exorcism of sorts where the literally impossible glamour and beauty fallacy, like a malignant growth, is excised once and for all from the narrator’s self concept.

Behind all the saccharine descriptive language and tongue-in-cheek surface-level endorsements a righteously angry voice cleverly manages to express the hurt and disappointment of having been cheated, lied to, and manipulated. “You’re gutted,” the speaker remarks in the middle of the poem, and while this statement literally addresses the doll, it’s almost certainly meant to be read as self-reflexive. The stanza continues:

                         Cinderella and Prince Charming,
Snow White and that other Prince Charming,
Beauty and the Beast, Ken and you – the blonde

hair, the big boobs, the hot pink box – ruined.

And with this the dénouement begins. Having already catalogued the ludicrous presumptions of impossibly glamorous career outfits, Devereaux’s speaker takes aim at the ideal of unattainable female beauty the doll represents, and cleverly utilises the euphemistic “hot pink box” to devastating effect.

As “Playthings” builds towards its startling final image, it’s no accident of chance that “the sweet little white pumps with pink/at the heel and toe” should make a second appearance, only this time, the narrator remarks “about those shoes, they never did fit.” Aside from cleverly extending the argument of the poem and resonating perfectly with its already established imperative, this almost deadpan statement, it seems to me, both enters and furthers a conversation established almost exactly a half century ago by a poet of considerable renown who also recognized the figurative possibilities of constrictive footwear as a means to express the emotional and psychological damage done as a result of paternalistic subjugation.

From the "hoarding of hurt" we encounter in “Conservation Policies” and the “Lady Lazarus”- like the devouring of a “lover’s wedding band” in “Quelle Affair”, to the “tongue [that] may want/to slide along the smooth hard/edge of a belt buckle” in “How to be a Spinster, circa 2010” and its echoes of “[e]very woman adores a Fascist/the boot in the face” from “Daddy,” Sylvia Plath’s influence is palpable throughout Cardiogram. But to suggest that Devereaux’s approach is derivative would be to mistake the matter entirely, as she never steals, and borrows only as a means to complicate, celebrate, and newly assert the spirit of female self-empowerment and wilful resistance that’s so inherent to the poetics of her predecessor.

Danielle Devereaux
“Playthings” closes with the “pink corvette,” Barbie’s most longed for accessory, “overturned in a ditch,” the doll itself, “naked from the waist down, still smiling,” and the reader can’t help but marvel in amazement at the genius with which Devereaux delivers her knockout blow. The Plath of “Elektra on Azalea Path” “[s]mall as a doll in [her] dress of innocence” who watches “the ersatz petals drip ... red” beside her father’s grave, the same father who bit her “pretty red heart in two” in “Daddy”, would surely applaud the frank and unrelenting manner in which the oppressive and harmful force in this poem is identified, exposed, and ultimately repudiated. So should we. Quietly irreverent, technically astute, and emotionally fearless, Danielle Devereaux is sure to become and remain a force in Canadian poetry for years to come. I, for one, am very much looking forward to the publication of her long-awaited book-length manuscript in progress. If Cardiogram is any indication, it’s sure to make a splash.

Phillip Crymble
Poetry Co-editor, The Fiddlehead

Congratulations to Shane Neilson and Ken Babstock!

Congratulations to Shane Neilson winner of the silver in the poetry category at the National Magazine Awards for his poems "St. Anthony's Fire" and "The Perfect Fatherhood." Both poems were published in The Fiddlehead 249 (Autumn 2011).



And congratulations also to  Ken Babstock, Canadian winner of the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize.Babstock's most recent Fiddlehead publication in no. 244 (Summer 2010) included the title poem from his Griffin-nominated book, Methodist Hatchet.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Charlotte Glencross Scholarship for Professional Development in the Arts

For artists living in The Fiddlehead's home province of New Brunswick, there is still time to apply for the Charlotte Glencross Scholarship for Professional Development in the Arts.

The New Brunswick Foundation for the Arts offers this juried scholarship to a candidate who has demonstrated exceptional potential and talent as an artist; intends to study arts at a recognized institution or with a recognized private instructor for the purpose of pursuing a career as a professional artist or an arts professional. The scholarship will be awarded to the most promising candidate on the basis of the applications submitted. The prize will be presented during an event highlighting the vitality of the arts in New Brunswick. The scholarship is in the amount of $1,000. One prize each year may be awarded.

The scholarship's objectives are to support an artist or craftsperson who seeks to build upon a new practice or establish a new direction in their work, and to encourage the development of New Brunswick talent in the arts.

Eligibility: Only New Brunswick residents are eligible. A resident is defined as a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant who has resided in New Brunswick for at least one year immediately preceding the application deadline. Students may reapply every year. Eligible applications are evaluated by a jury of professional artists and arts administrators.

All applicants must provide a résumé that includes professional experience, exhibitions or performances and any achievements which pertain to the application. An applicant must also provide a typed letter to the jury outlining the professional career plans of the applicant, photocopies of the program/course description and tuition fee as provided by the institution or private instructor, a résumé of the private instructor (if applicable), and a sample of most recent works on CD-ROM (max 20). The NBFA reserves the right not to allocate the scholarship if the applications submitted do not meet the criteria of the program.

Application Deadline: June 30

For more information please contact the New Brunswick Foundation for the Arts.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Fiddlehead contest issue – no. 251 – is out!

Rejoice! Spring has arrived and so have the winning stories and poems from The Fiddlehead’s 21st annual contest! Celebrate with all the contest winners and other authors by picking up and reading this fresh and lively issue.

In addition to wonderful poems and stories from the contest, you will also find stories from Yasuko Thanh and Grant Buday and poems from John Wall Barger, Karen Enns, Zachariah Wells, Heather Cadsby, Yvonne Blomer, and John Donlan among others. There are also reviews of books authored by M. Travis Lane, Madeline Bassnett, Sheila McClarty, Priscilla Uppal, Sue Goyette, Edward Riche, Steve Noyes, and Heather Jessup. The cover artwork is from David McKay’s "Fiddlehead Season," a beautiful watercolour painting.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New Brunswick Arts Board Videos

Over the next few months New Brunswick Arts Board (artsnb) is producing a series of short videos profiling New Brunswick artists across a wide variety of artistic disciplines. Below is the video celebrating New Brunswick writers:


To see other videos in this series, check out artnb's YouTube channel.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Nominations Congratulations!

Congratulations to Shane Neilson, who has been nominated for the 35th annual National Magazine Award in poetry for his poems, "St. Anthony's Fire" and "The Perfect Fatherhood." Both poems were published in The Fiddlehead 249 (Autumn 2011). The 2012 National Magazine Awards will be presented on June 7th in Toronto.



Also congratulations to Ken Babstock, Phil Hall, and Jan Zwicky, who are the three Canadian finalists for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize. All three have published poems in past issues of The Fiddlehead and Zwicky is a past Fiddlehead poetry editor (and current associate editor). Babstock's most recent Fiddlehead publication in no. 244 (Summer 2010) included the title poem from his Griffin-nominated book, Methodist Hatchet.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Special Evening Celebrating the Launch of The Essential Robert Gibbs

The UNB Reading Series Presents: A Special Evening Celebrating the Launch of The Essential Robert Gibbs, Monday, April 30th at 8 pm in the Alumni Memorial Lounge.

To celebrate the release of The Essential Robert Gibbs, selected by Brian Bartlett (The Porcupine’s Quill 2012) writers, including Buck Richards, Shari Andrews, David Adams Richards, Nancy Bauer, Travis Lane, Ted Colson, Brian Bartlett, Michael Pacey, Ian LaTourneau, Robert Hawkes, Lynn Davies, Ross Leckie, Gerard Beirne, Sue Sinclair, and Robert Gibbs, will gather in the Alumni Memorial Lounge on the UNB Fredericton campus to read selections from Robert Gibbs’ poetry.

Born in Saint John, Robert Gibbs studied at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton and at Cambridge University, where he was an IODE Scholar from 1952-54. Gibbs returned to New Brunswick to teach and submitted poems to The Fiddlehead journal where he became one of the most frequent contributors. In 1963 Gibbs began teaching at the University of New Brunswick while working on a Doctorate. However, it was not until 1968 that Gibbs published his first chapbook, The Road from Here. Gibbs’ Scottish heritage, Anglican and Baptist family traditions, and upbringing in New Brunswick are all in evidence in the imaginative landscape of his poetry. Gibbs published regularly over the following decades with Fiddlehead Poetry Books, Goose Lane Editions, and Oberon Press, among others. The Essential Robert Gibbs draws poems from throughout his career and is a testament to the poetic contribution that Gibbs has made.

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

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WFNB WordsSpring May 4-6 2012

The Writers' Federation of New Brunswick's annual spring gathering, formerly call our AGM and Literary Awards Banquest, WordsSpring brings together WFNB members, well-known authors, and people from the community to create an informative, educational, and all-out fun time.

And we also take care of some business: our AGM takes place on the Saturday morning of the festival and we hand out our Literary Competition’s awards. The location of WordsSpring 2012 will be in Sackville. Download WordsSpring 2012  Program & Registration

The Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick will present $1,700  in cash prizes to the winners of its 2012 Literary Competition at WordsSpring in Sackville, NB, May 4-6.. A total 181 entries were received, double the number of submissions from just two years ago.

Two of the award namesakes – Sheree Fitch and David Adams Richards – are among the authors who will attend WFNB’s semi-annual literary celebration.  Fitch and Adams Richards were early members of the federation and credit the mentorship they received from WFNB’s founders to launching their writing careers.
 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fiddlehead Story goes to the Big Screen!

In 2004 Craig Davidson won The Fiddlehead's Short Fiction Prize for his story "28 Bones." Now eight years later his story is being turned into a French-language film staring Academy Award-winning actor Marion Cotillard and directed by Oscar-nominated Director, Jacques Audiard.

DE ROUILLE ET D'OS (Rust and Bone) premieres on 17 May 2012.

It starts in the north. Ali (Schoenaerts) ends up with his 5-year-old son Sam, whom he barely knows. Homeless, penniless and friendless, Ali finds refuge with his sister in Antibes. There, it's immediately better, he lives in her garage, she takes care of the little things and it's nice..... Click for trailer

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The UNB Reading Series Presents: Linden MacIntyre

Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Linden MacIntyre, author of The Bishop’s Man, will be reading from his latest novel Why Men Lie at Memorial Hall, Thursday, April 12th at 8 pm.

Award-winning author, journalist, and broadcaster Linden MacIntyre returns with the third volume in his Cape Breton trilogy, Why Men Lie (Random House, 2012). The novel begins two years after the events of The Bishop’s Man (Random House 2009) and centres on Effie MacAskill, a tenured professor of Celtic Studies and sister of the troubled priest Duncan, a character from MacIntyre’s previous novel. A fortuitous meeting with J. C. Campbell, a childhood friend that Effie hasn’t seen in more than twenty years, leads her into the possibility of a new romantic relationship. The infidelities of Effie’s first husband, Sextus, prompted her to seek a fresh start in life and her romance with J. C. begins hopefully. However, cracks emerge and J. C.’s behavior proves unpredictable. When Effie spots him in a seedy area of the city late at night and confronts him, he denies having left house. His increasingly erratic behavior and obsession with a death row convict leads to a rupture in their relationship. Effie’s family obligations require her attention in Cape Breton, but her past and present soon merge in unexpected and potentially dangerous ways.

Linden MacIntyre’s The Bishop’s Man was awarded the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2010 Libris Fiction Book of the Year Award. He is the author of the novel The Long Stretch (HarperCollins 1999) and two works of Non-fiction: Causeway: A Passage from Innocence (HarperCollins 2006) and Who Killed Ty Conn (Viking 2000), written with Theresa Burke. MacIntrye is also a broadcaster and journalist with the CBC, known for his investigative reports produced for The Fifth Estate, and has received numerous awards for excellence in broadcasting.

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

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Rebels with a Cause: France’s 13e Note Editions


In 1934, Obelisk Press of Paris published Henry Miller’s landmark novel Tropic of Cancer. Banned in the United States, Grove Press’ 1961 American edition was subsequently tried on charges of obscenity and pornography, eventually and painstakingly resulting in acquittal three years later in 1964. It took 27 years for Miller, an American, to get published in his native country, and when he finally did, it was still under the clouds of institutional rejection and slander. The point is that before Miller garnered mainstream acceptance, someone was willing to take a chance on him and his work. Economics and practicality aside, it is increasingly rare to find presses willing and able (realistically) to go with their gut — to publish what truly excites them as a matter of principle and, perhaps this is the Romantic in me, obligation.
   This sense of duty and passion is where my interest in the French publishers 13e Note Editions http://www.13enote.com stems from. The literary world has recently lost two giants who championed the alternative and controversial: George Whitman, long time owner of Paris’ Shakespeare and Company bookstore, and Barney Rosset, the Grove Press publisher who took a chance on Miller. As fervent supporters of literature senselessly repressed and marginalized, Whitman and Rosset laid the groundwork upon which presses such as 13e Note importantly still stand. The names Dan Fante, Mark SaFranko, Tony O’Neill, J.R. Helton, and Matthew Firth (among others) might not be familiar to those reading this blog. The aforementioned names have done everything from toil in obscurity to achieve measured success in North America with HarperCollins (O’Neill, Fante, SaFranko — all after starting out with micro presses) and Anvil Press (Firth — who resides in Ottawa). Starting with their interest in Fante, 13e Note has been praised for their translations of North American writers into French, and France, as astute a literary nation as there is, has responded in kind by paying attention to and buying books by authors who are unfortunately often overlooked domestically.
   13e Note founder Eric Vieljeux was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule for an interview. What follows is a short conversation to help introduce readers of The Fiddlehead to 13e Note’s ethos and why, as a foreign press, they support and promote American and Canadian writers. I encourage readers to browse 13e Note’s website and catalogue where you can also get to know the writers they so fervently believe in. All I will say in closing is that as staff, readers, and supporters of an internationally renowned literary magazine based in a bilingual province, it is our obligation and to our benefit to make and uphold trans-Atlantic connections, and to recognize the excellent work of our peers in the global literary community.

Zach Alapi
Editorial Assistant 

ZA:What inspired you to start 13e Note Editions? Can you talk about the Press’ ethos?

13e Note: Some years ago, driving around LA with a friend, we passed by the mansion of Michael Crichton, and my friend said: “the one who really deserves this house is Dan Fante.” I have read Dan since his first book was published in France and then bought and read all his work... I truly love his writing.
   When I had the money to lose in a publishing venture, I thought I would only publish Dan Fante, as he had not been published in France for the past 10 years and I really believed he deserved to shine in all bookstores. So I went to see him and told him I had never published a single sheet of paper in my life but asked if he would he let me do his last book (and commit to do his other major works). That was March 2008; he said yes.
   Then Sandrine joined me and I quickly understood that to succeed you need top-notch distribution-diffusion, and to get that you need a real editorial project, not one writer and one book. But the fruit was ripe, in my mind, and immediately paid dividends with interest in Mark Safranko, Tommy Trantino, Tony O'Neill, Barry Gifford etc.... We had the project(s) and seduced FLAMMARION as a distributor. Then Patrice joined, and Dan’s book came out in April 2009.

   Yes, we have an ethos and principles, though they are obvious:
  • stay away from dickheads and make this venture as pleasurable as possible;
  • present unpublished writers (though not exclusively) to French readers;
  • only publish what we love;
  • make as few concessions along the editorial line as possible (no detective stories/genre fiction unless they are realistic, etc.);
  • have fun doing it.
ZA: Of particular interest to readers of The Fiddlehead will be the success you’ve had publishing North American writers in French translation. What is the process like in selecting an English manuscript for publication in France?

13e Note: The success is relative.... Of course, when you are unpublished in your own country, or published by a small Press and hardly distributed, selling 3000 copies of your book in France brings some notoriety success.
   But foreign literature is very costly and so far, out of the 37 titles we’ve published, none has had what you may call “financial success,” which is key to remain in the game.
   So yes, we have [had success] and we are gaining notoriety/success for publishing so many of these writers who have never been translated into French. We also have a strong graphical ID and, for the first time, decent PR.

ZA: It seems that 13e Note’s literary and historical predecessors are ones that have attained success writing controversially from the margins of society (before widespread recognition); writers such as Jack Kerouac, John Fante, Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, Hubert Selby Jr. (and others) come to mind. How does 13e Note both adhere to and transcend these important influences? How does this historical consciousness inform what you do as a contemporary press?

13e Note: Our selection is spontaneous; we know what we’re looking for in a novel, or short stories, or prose poetry, and we never cease searching for it — on our own and sometimes through recommendations from other writers. This is really mine and Patrice’s turf; all doors remain open, and if we could, we would publish classic writers like Edward Lewis Wallant or Thornton Wilder, etc. Also, remember that nobody waited for us to publish great noir writers, so we have to “fish” every day, and we take risks... certainly more than other publishers.
   Of course, we acknowledge writers and works that have inspired those we publish today. But, take Jack Kerouac, for example... as publishers, we are more interested in the writings of his daughter [Jan Kerouac] than his own works that have already been extensively commented on and distributed.



ZA: In 2011, you released an impressive anthology, Le Livre des fêlures, 31 histoires cousues de fil noir, comprised mostly of translated stories. How/why did this come about, and what do you feel links the writers you selected for this anthology?

13e Note: In 2010, we released Le Livre des fêlures, a massive anthology for our modest press, as we worked on/published it while simultaneously working on our regular program. We were reading many exciting pieces, some by writers published in France and some by unpublished authors that we thought we ought to do something with. Realistically, we cannot publish every project that excites us, so the anthology sort of promoted and publicized the literary genre we love and promote. This book won the Prix De La Nuit Du Livre thanks to the sweat and talent of Patrice Carrer.
   In putting together the anthology, we had: 31 cool and lively biographies with author pictures, 31 contracts with money sent in envelopes to rehab centers, agents, and independent writers, dozens of translators and 31 quality stories, all assembled spontaneously and organized [by genre—Néo- Beat, Méta-Réalisme, Off-Noir, Inside Out] by Patrice to help guide the reader. We will re-issue it in our new Pocket-Pulse collection.

ZA: As The Fiddlehead is a Canadian-based magazine, I want to talk a bit about Matthew Firth, who you are currently working with. Much of Matt’s fiction importantly deals with Canadian cities and the gritty experiences of their inhabitants. What drew you to his fiction, and what qualities in his writing make you feel his material will translate well to French and European markets?

13e Note: First, Matthew Firth is also a publisher and we love the same stuff. I do not think it is obvious that Matt writes about Canadian cities and their inhabitants; there aren’t that many hints in his writing. But obviously he lives there, so it works its way in. We love his fiction because it is without concession and [it] honestly depicts human nature. It is honest and sometimes brutal, and always has a sense of humour. Matt, like Dan Fante, does not hesitate to put his family jewels on the table and be vulnerable. We love that. I have never asked myself whether his [Matt’s] work would or wouldn’t translate well to the French market before deciding to publish him.

ZA
: Lastly, does 13e Note have plans to expand its market directly to North America? With Francophone populations in Quebec and New Brunswick, do you see potential/value in fostering a sort of “global” literary community?

13e Note: We have plans to expand into the U.S. and Canadian markets as soon as our French venture can somehow balance/sustain itself. The future, unless we find a partner (pronto), is very bleak, as sales, our main source of financing, are just not happening. Unlike others, we have no country rights to negotiate, movie deals either never happen or come about once in a blue moon… our sales income is paid with a 4 month delay, we have no back catalogue to sustain sales, and, frankly, it is incredibly difficult to publish an unknown writer and get him media attention. Only passion and enthusiasm keep us going… but for how long?
   Lastly, my dear Zach, we are four at 13e Note Editions, and whatever has been achieved so far would have been impossible without the talent, dedication, and shared passion of Sandrine, Adeline, and Patrice. They carry this Press on a daily basis, and I am so grateful they trusted me from day one.