Thursday, December 19, 2013

Happy Holidays!

The Fiddlehead office is now closed until the new year. 

On behalf of everyone who works on The Fiddlehead, we wish you a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2014!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Breakwater Newfoundland Poetry Series: Shoshanna Wingate responds to Carmelita McGrath

Photo by Kerri Cull
Carmelita McGrath holds a singular place in the heart of Newfoundland poetry. For an island that loves its poets, this is not a consolation prize for the weird auntie who likes her hats big and bright, but a heartfelt space created for a poet who inspired so many in their development. Michael Crummey has said many times that Carmelita McGrath was a force when he was dabbling in verse, falling under its spell and unsure of what kind of life it would provide him.  She was instrumental in gathering writers in St. John’s, in nurturing their aspirations, and she emboldened both her peers and those who would come up behind them. And when she did not publish a collection of poetry for some twelve years, she was missed. Her peers lamented her lack of a new book publicly, they prodded her and cajoled her to finish it up, they pestered her when she balked.

As for her own writing, she found a vernacular at ease in a poetic form. Every traditional culture is a man’s culture first. Hard scrabbled. Weather worn. Pitched against elements both natural and economic.  The woman relegated to waiting and fretting. Recycled images of romantic rural life. Old world charms. Carmelita burnished the tools and picked away. She’s a writer with no patience for sentimental stories. The delight in reading her is to watch her upend our familiar myths, her craftsmanship deftly chipping off the rough edges until we see what was always there underneath it all.

As many writers know, it’s not often readers come beating on your door demanding your next work, that you hurry it up already and stop making us wait so friggin' long. Imagine. And yet, when Carmelita took the stage for the book launch of the Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry, the room fidgeted and settled, even a perceptible collective breath could be felt. St. John’s is the only city I know where poets fill the room at The Ship until they're spilling out into the alleyways. We missed your voice, Agnes Walsh said.

Shoshanna Wingate lives in St. John's, Newfoundland. Her poetry book, A Crooked Mirror, will come out in Fall 2014 with Véhicule Press. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Breakwater Newfoundland Poetry Series: Jeffery Donaldson responds to Richard Greene

The lived life is dead. Long live the lived life.

Richard Greene begins: “I am at home in a high-rise.” You want to catch the nuance there:  the descent motif, finding one’s ground among the contemporary urban domiciles; but also the ascent, the daily routine struggling to rise above itself. Greene’s poems are high-risers that seek a lifting leverage in high-rises. We’ve been arguing with the ordinary for decades now.  It has given little ground, if any, but we go back to it for answers, offer our part in the antiphony, the plaintive call and response. These poems are grounded in the “lesser miracles” of domestic existence, conversations in water-drops, fishings after the moment’s stingy yield. Their wry ironies are a means of accommodation, a feeling of generosity among scant offerings. We are those customers in “Beside the Funeral Home” who wouldn’t be “caught dead in the ordinary,” for it is in the ordinary that something is always coming to an end. And yet we try to pass through it, like new coffins arriving for the departed in the “funeral home that calls itself ‘Wing On.’” The Portuguese fishermen playing football in close quarters among the ship’s rigging: I thought of Baudelaire’s albatross. Greene picks up the French poet’s lament and exhortation: to find what flight we can amid our modern, homely entanglements: “A boy / who watched old leather fly to makeshift / goals among the nets and ropes and barrows.”

“My feast is elsewhere.” A castaway from the Newfoundland, Greene offers a world whose immediate weights and concerns are always traversed by presences, energies or sources of empowerment, from away: a traveller on the Newfoundland ferry finding his legs at sea, “between homes”; immigrants in Toronto’s St James town, working to send money home to loved ones in native lands; a Nantucket whaler come home to find his own property cut off from him; people variously withdrawn from an original identity.

Greene is very particular, so to speak, about his subject matter. There has to be nothing there, or seem to be. The poem must appear like one of the three or four last fishing boats at anchor in St. John’s, “roped to the wharf waiting for a good year.” We arrive in aftermath, like poems coming belatedly to the vast antecedent modernisms, long-since plundered. Displacement in space. Belatedness in time. To work with leavings.

The poem in Greene is like a kind of sketchy neighbourhood. The place ain’t what it used to be. But Greene’s is not a nostalgia for imagined Arcadian antecedents. We don’t find ourselves longing here for what is past, but rather for what is missed, in both senses, here and now. There is plenty in the ordinary, so to speak, but we miss it, as though it were past. “There is some tear in memory between / the longed for and the given.” The two are one, and have been for a long time. We need to find new kinds of attention, an alternative approach to our sense of displacement and belatedness:

Yet they live by their hope, curiously pledged
To some afterness that will reward and bless . . .

To find one’s calling in a place and time apparently evacuated: Greene’s style grapples with the ensuing imperatives. To embody. To work through. In a Greene poem, traditional cadences are pressed home, as it were. I think of the civic poems of an Auden: poems of lyric commentary, poems in every sense responsible, both to a tradition and to its present application in the social scrimmage. You take the traditions at hand, the world at hand, and you “get something across” through them. You can hear it in every poem:  not a throwing away of the level line, the sound construction, for easier escape clauses. Instead, a prosody that wrestles with its inheritance. Listen here:

They paid out trawls, hooks baited with caplin
Or squid, and hauled in the twisting cod
Until their boats brimmed with silver thrashing.

The line itself, like the scene evoked, twists inside its threaded nettings, every word — the diction, the positioning — a writhing from itself.

Newfoundlanders in the big smoke are ironically “from away,” away from where they continue to find their imaginative roots. This is a poetry seasoned by the Rock; like Michaelangelo’s unfinished Dying Slave, it gives the impression of wriggling in its stone footings.  It stays there and it leaves.

Jeffery Donaldson is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Guesswork (Goose Lane, 2011) and Slack Action (Porcupine's Quill, 2013). He teaches poetry and American literature at McMaster University.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Introducing the Judges for The Fiddlehead's 23rd Annual Literary Contest

The Fiddlehead's annual literary contest is now closed, and we're pleased to announce this year's fabulous judges.

Fiction Judge
Douglas Glover
Douglas Glovers newest book, a collection of short stories called Savage Love, appeared in the fall of 2013. He has won the Governor General’s Award for his novel Elle as well as the Rogers Writers’ Trust Timothy Findley Award for his body of work. He edited Best Canadian Stories from 1996 to 2006. He teaches in the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the current Writer-in-Residence at the University of New Brunswick. He edits the international online arts magazine Numéro Cinq.

Poetry Judges
James Arthur
James Arthur’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Poetry, Ploughshares, Brick, and The American Poetry Review. He has received the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Stegner Fellowship, a Hodder Fellowship, a Discovery/The Nation Prize, The Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Prize, and a residency at the Amy Clampitt House. His first book, Charms Against Lightning, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2012 as a Lannan Literary Selection. James grew up in Toronto and now lives in Baltimore, where he teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

Elizabeth Bachinsky
Elizabeth Bachinsky is the author of five collections of poetry: Curio (BookThug, 2005), Home of Sudden Service (Nightwood, 2006), God of Missed Connections (Nightwood, 2009), I Don't Feel So Good (BookThug, 2012) and The Hottest Summer in Recorded History (Nightwood, 2013). Her poetry has been nominated for awards including the Pat Lowther Award, The Kobzar Literary Award, The George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature, the Governor General's Award for Poetry and the Bronwen Wallace Award, and has appeared in literary journals, anthologies and on film around the world. She lives in New Westminster BC where she teaches creative writing and is the Editor of EVENT magazine.

Tim Lilburn
Tim Lilburn was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. He has published nine books of poetry, including To the River (1999), Kill-site (2003), Orphic Politics (2008) and Assiniboia (2012). His work has received the Governor General’s Award (for Kill-site) and the Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award (for To the River), among other prizes. A selection of his poetry is collected in Desire Never Leaves: the Poetry of Tim Lilburn, edited by Alison Calder. His most recent book is the chapbook Newton, Force at a Distance, Imperialism from The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press (2013).  Lilburn teaches in the Department of Writing at the University of Victoria.

Here are the most recent books from our judges:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Breakwater Newfoundland Poetry Series: George Murray Responds to Patrick Warner

Patrick Warner

If you ever get the chance to meet Patrick-Warner-the-Person, you’ll find yourself reading him much like you’ll come to read Patrick-Warner-the-Poet in the Breakwater Anthology — as seemingly reserved, but with a sly core full of wit, emotional charge, and genuine grace. His outward appearance is one of dignity and formality (a polite Irish Canadian with wonderful manners), but inside resides a devilish appetite for both the profound and the absurd (he’ll zing you with the best of them and leave you laughing at yourself).

Pat is one of those guys who shows up at a party and surveys the scene quietly, not so much seeking an opportunity to join one chatting group or another so much as looking for a moment of genuine interest in which to participate. He’s a collector, of ideas, thoughts, moments, and people. Much like another poet, (and regular party attendee in Newfoundland) Stan Dragland, when Pat-the-Person says something, it’s funny or profound because it’s the right thing to say at the right time. There’s thought and patience behind it. Pat-the-Poet similarly picks perfect moments from the jumble of inputs we call life in order to move toward universal truths through his words. You get the feeling he’s in no rush for anything.

A transplanted Irishman, Warner fits into the Newfoundland anthology in two ways—first, as a poet who had a significant connection to the Rock before the publication of his first book (he’s been here for 33 years); and second, as a man of wit and stories from a culture of wit and stories. Warner’s poems range from the playfulness of poems like Mormon and Waxing, in which haut couture and Winston Churchill’s nipples appear, respectively, to the hard reality of Anorexia, in which we watch the poet-speaker deal with his own role in his daughter’s attempt to slowly starve herself.

If you never get the chance to meet Patrick-Warner-the-Person — especially, as I did, after having read his verse — no worries. You’ll get a good sense of him here in the Breakwater Anthology. I imagine it’ll be like finding him in a corner at a party—you feeling surprised not by how formal he seems at first, but by how shocking he can be when you least expect it.

George Murray is the author of five books of poems, most recently Whiteout (ECW 2012), nominated for the EJ Pratt Award and the Atlantic Poetry Prize, one book of Aphorisms, Glimpse (ECW 2010), and an upcoming book for children, Wow Wow and Haw Haw (Breakwater, 2014), with painter Michael Pittman. He lives in St. John’s.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Odd Sundays at Molly's presents Kerry-Lee Powell and Fiddlehead Fiction Editor Mark Jarman

Join us Sunday, December 1 at 2pm for a literary afternoon featuring Fredericton novelist, Mark Anthony Jarman, and Moncton poet, Kerry-Lee Powell. The event includes a book draw for everybody in attendance, and an open set, for those among us who wish to share their writing at the mic (three minutes each).

We meet at 2pm on the odd sundays of the month — first, third, and sometimes fifth — at Molly’s Coffee House (554 Queen Street). Buy a drink and/or lunch from our eclectic hosts Molly and Daryl, settle in at one of our friendly tables, and enjoy an afternoon dedicated to writing.

Kerry-Lee Powell was born in Montreal and has lived in Antigua, Australia and the United Kingdom, where she received a BA in Medieval and Renaissance Literature and an MA in Writing and Literature from Cardiff University. Her poetry has appeared in The Spectator, Ambit and MAGMA. Her fiction has been published in The Boston Review, The Malahat Review and the Virago Press Writing Women series. She has been nominated for a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart Prize. In 2013 she won The Boston Review fiction contest, The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons award for short fiction and the Alfred G. Bailey manuscript prize. Her debut collection of poetry is forthcoming from Biblioasis Press. A chapbook entitled The Wreckage will be published in the United Kingdom by Grey Suit Editions in 2014.

(Photo credit: Emmanuel Albert)
Mark Anthony Jarman is the author of 19 Knives, My White Planet, New Orleans Is Sinking, Dancing Nightly in the Tavern, and the travel book Ireland’s Eye.  His novel, Salvage King Ya!, is on’s list of 50 Essential Canadian Books and is the number one book on Amazon’s list of best hockey fiction.

Jarman has won a Gold National Magazine Award in nonfiction, has twice won the Maclean-Hunter Endowment Award, won the Jack Hodgins Fiction Prize, and has been included in The Journey Prize Anthology and Best Canadian Stories and short-listed for the O. Henry Prize and Best American Essays. He has published recently in Walrus, Canadian Geographic, Hobart, The Barcelona Review, Vrij Nederland, and reviews for The Globe & Mail. He is a graduate of The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a Yaddo fellow, has taught at the University of Victoria, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and now teaches at the University of New Brunswick, where he is fiction editor of The Fiddlehead literary journal.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Breakwater Newfoundland Poetry Series: Susan Gillis Responds to Sue Sinclair

Sue Sinclair
It’s a rainy night and the street lamps’ orange light streaks the wet pavement. I’ve just come from a reading where Sue Sinclair led discussion of two poems by the featured poets before they read. This project – congenial inquiry into the shape and directions of a poem, essentially an act of spirited appreciation – is part of the work Sue has been doing as Critic in Residence for CWILA (Canadian Women in the Literary Arts). On this occasion, Sue has just finished a major work of her own and begun something new, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the questions and insights she leads us toward are articulate thresholds.

Rereading the poems collected here, it strikes me that this kind of liminal space is one Sue occupies regularly, at least in poetry. In Collarbones, for example, “desire//rises, hinged at the throat” and “we glimpse one another.” A red bell pepper, its awkward shape is “the size/of your heart. Which may look/like this… growing in ways you never/predicted.” Paddling as the sun goes down, “gateway/to nowhere, the beginning of imagining you aren’t.” The dark reversal of the romance of death, a magician’s trick in “Forever.”

And there’s more, much more, when we read on; as in “Breaker,” it could be any of us whose “mind is gathered/like a horse about to take a hurdle, ready to take a leap.”

Susan Gillis is a poet and teacher who divides her time between Montreal and rural Ontario. The Rapids (Brick, 2012) is her most recent book. She keeps a blog on poetry and the writing life at Concrete & River.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Breakwater Newfoundland Poetry Series: Lynn Davies Responds to Mary Dalton

In my late teens, I hitchhiked with a friend from Moncton, NB to St. John’s, NL to stay with my grandparents and visit relatives. We noticed how my cousins, many close in age to us, talked among their friends using words and rhythms new to us, often uttered so quickly that we frequently asked, could you say that again?

Some of Mary Dalton’s poems in the Breakwater anthology are brief stories or monologues informed by a vocabulary that also speeds up the telling. Reading “Bridesboys” and “Merrybegot” out loud to myself is a bit like being read to as a child; I hear strange words — brindy bough, upsot, nuzzle-tripe. I’m carried and grounded in sound and rhythm.  A favourite, “The Doctor,” tells the story, in seventeen short lines, of two premature babies born in a November gale; an indifferent doctor; the efforts of the parents with wood, wool, thick flannel, a dropper, and the final perfect image, “Six long months they captained / That kitchen, steered those / Two little moon men to shore.” This is the kind of poetry — rich and weird in the details of the world — I love to read and reread.

Her poem “The Boat” reminds me of Wistawa Szymborska’s “Funeral” (II) in which Szymborska simply lists the comments of people attending a funeral. I can’t help smiling at the end. How pragmatic but vulnerable we are around death. In “The Boat”, Dalton describes the broken boat that sails down from the heavens and lands in a bed of petunias, and then she lists the people trying to use or make sense of the miraculous boat. In the “ballyhoo” at the end, as the people are arguing among themselves, the boat simply takes off into the blue again, “battered planks clanking.” It’s a noisier, more colourful poem, but I hear a similar vulnerability and pragmatism in response to mystery. Dalton makes me laugh here, as she often does in her poems.

Some of these poems echo the colour and vigour of my mother’s Newfoundland childhood; she is 86, and those memories are vivid, sometimes more real than present time. Dalton often writes about people who simply work with what they’ve got. Her poems embrace strangeness and are full of words that fill our mouths with sound. Spantickles, rigamarole, devil-ma-click. Her book Merrybegot has been on my shelf for years, but now I’ve ordered Red Ledger. Thank you, Mary Dalton.

Lynn Davies is the poet of three books, most recently How the Gods Pour Tea (Goose Lane, 2013). She lives in Fredericton.

Monday, November 18, 2013

UNB Reading Series Presents Catherine Bush

The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to hear a reading by the acclaimed writer, Catherine Bush. She will be reading from her latest novel, Accusation, published by Goose Lane, 2013.

This novel tells the story of Sara Wheeler, a Toronto journalist, who happens upon Cirkus Mirak, a touring Ethiopian children’s circus. She later meets and is convinced to drive the circus founder, Raymond Renaud, through the night from Toronto to Montreal. Such chance beginnings lead to later fateful encounters, as renowned novelist Catherine Bush artfully confronts the destructive power of allegations.

Catherine Bush is also the author of Claire’s Head, The Rules of Engagement, and Minus Time. Her books have been published internationally and short-listed for literary awards, including Ontario’s Trillium Award and the City of Toronto Book Award. A former writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick, Bush is currently the Coordinator of the Creative Writing MFA at the University of Guelph, and has taught Creative Writing at Concordia University in Montreal, Humber School for Writers, in UBC’s low-residency Creative Writing MFA, and for the Summer Literary Seminars in Kenya.  She has also been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

Her reading will be held on Tuesday, November 19 at 8:00 pm in the Lounge of the Alumni Memorial Building (next to Memorial Hall) on the UNB Fredericton Campus.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Breakwater Newfoundland Poetry Series: Katia Grubisic Responds to Ken Babstock

Ken Babstock
The town of Burin, Newfoundland is home to the Tidal Wave Museum, which commemorates the earthquake and tsunami that upended the place in 1929. The seism originated on the edge of the Grand Banks, and was felt as far away as New York and Montreal, yet Burin, population a handful, was the place to remember the loss and legend of the tidal wave that swept the peninsula hours afterwards.

Ken Babstock is not the largest earthquake in Canadian history, but this boy from Burin has also shaken things up, made waves. Pick your cliché; it’s easy to understand why Mark Callanan and James Langer wanted to include Babstock in their anthology of Newfoundland poets, waaay prodigal though he is, having grown up and lived in fairly the opposite of Newfoundland. With the publication of the 1999 Mean, from which two of the poems in the Breakwater book are taken, Babstock stood at the cusp of a new Canadian poetics — post-nationalist but snapped in place; as easily confessional as prevaricating, and sometimes simultaneously; and demanding such acrobatics of language. Among his contemporaries, at that threshold, Babstock was fairly picking the lock. 

The Breakwater selection shows both Babstock’s preoccupation with handwork, and his evolving, wilful, playful estrangement with (not from) language. “Finishing,” one of the early inclusions, reveals the young poet’s skill at associative metaphor and subtle rhyme—the speaker takes pride in trim “from the bathroom door / right down the corridor’s // parade route.” The later poems ease us into the linguistic tangles (tangos?) that have become a Babstockian trademark: “Carrying Someone Else’s Infant Past a Cow in a Field Somewhere Near Marmora, Ont.,” from Days Into Flatspin, Babstock’s second collection, ends at the “empty, unrecoverable / hour of your early and strange.”

The material from Babstock’s 2006 Airstream Land Yacht cracks open both the man and the way his mind works. From the recounted family lore of “Pragmatist,” to the sun that makes “a cracking sound and resume[s] breathing” to the post-structuralistic bad trip of “The Minds of The Higher Animals,” Babstock manages at once to keep his readers at anchor and to push them off the plank. In the title inclusion from his most recent book, Methodist Hatchet, meanwhile, the poet jumps between apostrophe and absurdism, from concatenation to easy charm. Part elf, part eddy — “I still talk like I’m from nowhere, or Ontario,” he quips, but maybe there’s more Newfoundland left than we thought. The self is in there; it’s “secular self-grown peninsulaic,” and you better have got your ticket early.

Katia Grubisic is a writer, editor and translator. Her work has appeared in various Canadian and international publications, and her collection of poems What if red ran out won the Gerald Lampert award.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Breakwater Newfoundland Poetry Series: John Steffler Responds to Al Pittman

Al Pittman
Courtesy of Newfoundland Heritage
   Al loved fellowship and improvised social occasions.  He
   had a way of  making ordinary shared experience a kind of
   celebration, something memorable.  Inside him there was a
   bright-lit house party going on in the midst of endless
   night.  Newfoundlanders, especially those from outport
   and small island communities, have (or had) a special
   awareness of the bottomless darkness surrounding us and
   the need to counter it with courage, wit, skill and

   I was fortunate to meet Al shortly
   after moving  to Newfoundland in
   1975.  My whole experience of
   Newfoundland opened through him and his family, through his parents, their stories and the times I spent in their generous company.  I can’t separate these poems of Al’s from my memory of Al himself and the times when I first read them or heard them.  They’re all charged with emotion for me, my own nostalgia, pleasure and sorrow now added to the nostalgia, pleasure and sorrow that Al wove into them.  In “Boxing the Compass” there’s Al’s father, tanned and bare-chested in his captain’s cap at the wheel of the Kyran.  And later, there are the Kyran’s timbers rotting in the grass.

Al looks back on his childhood, on the vestiges of his ancestral home in the same way that he looks at last evening’s party in Crawley’s Cove — both romantically and honestly.  He’s not trying to forge either a heroic cultural myth or a personal myth.  He’s celebrating life, living it as fully and attentively as he can, while it passes.

The music of Al’s language and his eye for the captured moment are as fresh and alive as ever.  Music, fellowship, briefly captured time.  Our fleeting-legendary selves.

John Steffler was the Poet Laureate of Canada (2006-2008) and taught for years in the English Department at Memorial University's Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.  His poetry works include That Night We Were Ravenous and Lookout.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Odd Sundays at Molly's presents Claire Kelly & Sherry Coffey

Two members of The Fiddlehead's editorial board — Claire Kelly, poetry co-editor, and Sherry Coffey, reader of fiction — will be reading this Sunday, November 3, at Molly's Coffee House. The reading begins at 2pm and is free.

Odd Sundays is Fredericton's longest-running semi-monthly reading series.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Breakwater Newfoundland Poetry Series: Stan Dragland Responds to Agnes Walsh

Agnes Walsh
Agnes Walsh was chuckling the time she told me how she chose a book off the shelf and began to read. She found herself enjoying that book so much she just had to buy it, so she closed it and looked up, woke up, to find herself in her own living room holding a book she already owned. Now that’s like reading her poems: they draw you in. Completely. The selection brings out Agnes’s muscular nostalgia for the individualistic Newfoundland past of which her father was a dear part.

In “Percy Janes Boarding the Bus” she is in her role as acerbic critic of Newfoundland’s oblivion to its literary heroes. And where will you find a more satisfying brief narrative than “Our Boarder Alfred, He Must Have Been 300 Pounds”? That piece is a tour de force of voice, and so is “I Solemn,” in which a child’s first funeral is recorded in the sort of intimate detail none but a child would notice. Agnes has two books of poems, In the Old Country of My Heart and Going Around With Bachelors. The anthology selection draws from each, and I can’t fault the choices, but there are wonderful poems I miss from each. Open either book and start to read. You could easily lose track of where you are.

Stan Dragland is the founder of Brick Magazine and Brick Books. He is the author of many books, the most recent of which is the novel The Drowned Lands. He lives in St. John's.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Breakwater Newfoundland Poetry Series: Richard Kemick Responds to Tom Dawe

Tom Dawe
Despite the multitude of successful Newfoundland poets to choose from, Mark Callanan and James Langer’s inclusion of Tom Dawe into Breakwater’s Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry Anthology may indeed have been a no-brainer. Dawe hails from the southern region of Conception Bay, Newfoundland and is a founding member of the Breakwater Books publishing house. In 2011, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

Because of the recent national acclaim of some of Newfoundland’s poets, such as Patrick Warner, Sue Sinclair, and Ken Babstock, among others, the island’s poetry has been understandably drifting away from its folkloric roots. Dawe’s inclusion within this collection ensures that readers can better understand the progression of Newfoundland poetry from its original local audience to the national and international. By drawing heavily on Newfoundland’s mythology in addition to his own perspective of growing up in an outport community, Dawe illustrates the foundational strengths of Newfoundland’s poetry.

In his poem “Wild Geese,” Dawe writes a confessional poem about watching two geese fly. While not explicitly stating the poem’s location, Dawe insinuates the poem’s Newfoundland location by situating the speaker on “mounds of turf / warm above wave-lit / over mossy stones.” After the setting is established, Dawe creates a link between the past and the present, juxtaposing his childhood time in this location with his current situation. He forms this link through (you guessed it) observing the flight of a pair of geese. Dawe puts tension between wanting to leave a place and yet being held to it, wanting to move on and yet wanting to stay the same. In this sense, Dawe’s poem functions as a microcosm for the grander march of Newfoundland poetry, of being pulled between history and the future.

The poem concludes with the lines, “They swing westward / where sky meets marsh leaves, / their shadows almost / touching me.” The geese leave; the speaker stays.

Richard Kemick is a currently an MA (Creative Writing) student at the University of New Brunswick. He recently won Grain's Short Grain Prize for Poetry.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ongoing Series: Poets Respond to The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry

The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry, edited by Mark Callahan and James Langer, was published earlier this year and features the work of 11 poets who "developed—either by birth or residence—a strong relationship with the island of Newfoundland prior to the publication of their first full-length collection of poetry." This anthology includes the work of Al Pittman, Tom Dawe, John Steffler, Mary Dalton, Carmelita McGrath, Richard Greene, Michael Crummey, Agnes Walsh, Ken Babstock, Sue Sinclair, and Patrick Warner.

Fiddlehead editor Ross Leckie and I reached out to poets across the country to get their perspective on the 11 poets selected. We didn't want an overly complex analysis of the featured work, nor did we want to call into question the editors' selection. We wanted poets simply responding to poets. Appreciations. And the responses—we hope you agree—are thoughtful, generous, and illuminating.

Starting tomorrow and over the next several weeks and months, we'll be posting what came back to us over the electronic transom. On behalf of The Fiddlehead team, we hope you enjoy.

Ian LeTourneau
Poetry Co-editor

November 5: John Steffler on Al Pittman

November 14: Katia Grubisic on Ken Babstock

Thursday, October 17, 2013

UNB Reading Series Presents Anne Compton on October 22

The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to hear a reading by the critically acclaimed poet, Anne Compton, author of Alongside, published this year by Fitzhenry and Whiteside. Every poem in this book is a conversation, with other writers, with lovers, with books, and an Island past; a conversation about the way in which the unlived life always walks beside us.

Compton is a two-time winner of the Atlantic Poetry Prize for her first two poetry collections, Opening the Island and Processional, the second of which was also the winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry. In 2008, she was awarded the Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence in English Language Literary Arts and the National Magazine Award in Poetry. A former teacher and writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick at Saint John, she developed and directed the acclaimed Lorenzo Reading Series.

Her reading will be held on Tuesday, October 22 at 8:00 pm in the East Gallery of Memorial Hall on the UNB Fredericton Campus.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

UNB MA Creative Writing Alumnus Craig Davidson shortlisted for 2013 Giller Prize

Photo credit Kevin Kelly
The Fiddlehead would like to congratulate Craig Davidson on his being named to the 2013 Giller Prize shortlist. While a student in the Creative Writing MA at UNB, Craig was an editorial assistant for The Fiddlehead. Later, he won our annual contest with a story called "28 Bones" which went on to become the title story of his short story collection Rust and Bone. That book later came to the attention of French director Jacques Audiard, who used two of the stories for the critically-acclaimed movie De rouille et d'os (Rust and Bone). Craig's most recent story appeared in The Fiddlehead's summer fiction issue, which was also featured at The Literarian, an online magazine of The New York Center for Fiction.

Here's a selection of Canadian media stories about the shortlist, announced yesterday:

Congratulations Craig, and good luck!

Monday, October 7, 2013

UNB Reading Series Presents Thomas King

The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to hear a reading by the critically acclaimed writer, Thomas King, author of The Inconvenient Indian published in 2012 by Random House of Canada. Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, this book weaves the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.

Thomas King is also the author of One Good Story, That One, Truth and Bright Water, and A Short History of Indians in Canada, which won the 2006 McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award. King’s A Coyote Columbus Story was nominated for the Governor General’s Award in 1992, and his Green Grass, Running Water was nominated the following year, and later chosen for inclusion in Canada Reads 2004. King is also known for his work writing and performing on the CBC radio show “Dead Dog Café.” In 2004 he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

His reading will be held on Tuesday, October 8 at 8:00 pm in Memorial Hall on the UNB Fredericton Campus. This event is free and open to the public. We suggest coming early, as seats may fill up fast.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Upcoming in the UNB Reading Series: Wayne Johnston & Poetry Weekend

The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to hear a reading by the critically acclaimed writer, Wayne Johnston. His latest novel, The Son of a Certain Woman, was published just last month and has already been long listed for the Giller Prize. It is the story of Percy Joyce, born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in the fifties, who is an outsider from childhood, set apart by a congenital disfigurement. Soon on the cusp of teenagehood, Percy is filled with longing for what he can’t have, his disturbingly alluring mother, Penelope, whose sex appeal nearly leaps off the page. Everyone in St. John’s lusts after her—including her sister-in-law, Medina; their paying boarder, the local chemistry teacher, Pops MacDougal; and . . . Percy. The Son of a Certain Woman brilliantly mixes sorrow and laughter as it builds toward an unforgettable ending.

Wayne Johnston has an MA in English and Creative Writing from UNB and holds a UNB honorary doctorate. He is also the author of The Story of Bobby O'Malley, which won the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel award. Subsequent books consistently received critical praise, including The Divine Ryans, which was adapted to the silver screen, and Baltimore's Mansion, which won the most prestigious prize for creative non-fiction awarded in Canada - the Charles Taylor Prize. Both The Colony of Unrequited Dreams and The Navigator of New York spent extended periods of time on bestseller lists in Canada and Colony was identified by The Globe & Mail as one of the 100 most important Canadian books ever produced (including both fiction and non-fiction).

His reading will be held on Thursday, October 3 at 8:00 pm in Memorial Hall on the UNB Fredericton Campus. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.


The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to the tenth Poetry Weekend.  This festival is legendary for its warmth and friendliness, and a few crazy parties. This is your chance to meet and talk with the best Canadian poets: Governor-General's Award and Griffin Prize winners. Join them for lunch and talk to them after readings. These are the kinds of events you talk about with your grandchildren.

The event will be Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6. Readings will be at 11am, 2pm, and 8pm both days and held in Memorial Hall on the UNB Fredericton Campus. Saturday’s 2pm reading will take place in Gallery 78. Readings will be given by Shane Neilson, Steven Price, Julie Bruck, Susan Glickman, David Seymour, Adam Dickinson, Carmelita McGrath, Lynn Davies, Jan Conn, Peter Richardson, Maurice Mierau, Sue Sinclair, and many more.

All readings are free of admission and all are welcome to attend.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Reminder: Douglas Glover Reads September 26!

The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to hear Douglas Glover, our writer-in-residence for 2013-14, read from his new novel Savage Love, published by Goose Lane Editions.  He will be meeting with writers from the community and from UNB through the year, and if you would like to receive his feedback on your writing, you can contact him through the department of English.

Douglas Glover is an acclaimed writer whose stories have been frequently anthologized, notably in The Best American Short Stories, Best Canadian Stories, and The New Oxford Book of Canadian Stories. He was the recipient of the 2006 Writers’ Trust of Canada Timothy Findley Award for his body of work, and the Governor General’s Award for his bestselling novel, Elle, which was also a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.  A Guide to Animal Behaviour was a finalist for the 1991 Governor General's Award, and 16 Categories of Desire was shortlisted for the 2000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Award.

His reading will be held on Thursday, September 26 at 8:00 pm in the East Gallery of Memorial Hall on the UNB Fredericton Campus.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

While you wait for this reading, why not check out a recent interview with Douglas Glover at Whole Beast Rag

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Douglas Glover to Kick Off 2013-14 UNB Reading Series

Douglas Glover
Douglas Glover is this year's UNB writer-in-residence, and he leads off the 2013-14 reading series with his new book Savage Love (Goose Lane Editions). Last week Glover was the guest editor of The National Post's Afterword, posting thought-provoking pieces on writing.

Monday, September 9: Building Sentences
Tuesday, September 10: Lists
Wednesday, September 11: Parallel Construction
Thursday, September 12: Epigrams

Glover will be launching Savage Love on September 26. There will also be more readings added to this page as details become available, including R.M. Vaughn and Bob Gibbs.

2013-14 UNB Reading Series
Douglas Glover September 26, 2013     East Gallery
Wayne JohnstonOctober 3, 2013     Memorial Hall
Poetry WeekendOctober 5-6, 2013     Memorial Hall
Thomas KingOctober 8, 2013     Memorial Hall
Anne ComptonOctober 22, 2013       East Gallery
Catherine BushNovember 19, 2013     Alumni Lounge
Bill Gaston & Mike ChristieFebruary 4, 2014     Alumni Lounge
Rawi HageApril 2, 2014

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Fiddlehead Summer Fiction Issue Celebration, Part 2

Soldiers' Barracks in downtown Fredericton
Despite the cooler temperature today in downtown Fredericton, fiction co-editor Mark Jarman entertained a small, but appreciative, audience from his Fredericton Arts Alliance artist-in-residence studio in the old soldiers' barracks.

Jarman has been sharing the studio this week with basket maker Katie Nicholas, chatting with tourists about his own writing, and promoting The Fiddlehead. As part of the residencies, Fredericton artists engage the public and tourists with outreach events over the lunch hour. Today, Jarman hosted a second celebration of The Fiddlehead's summer fiction issue.

Jarman in his FAA studio with Jack,
the Jack Russell terrier
Don't forget, Jarman is there for a second week starting this weekend, sharing the space with artist Samira Torabi, and he will be hosting another outreach event on September 7, in a finale of sorts, collaborating with Clarissa Hurley of Notable Acts Theatre Company for a short reading of his story "The Stewardess Swims Over the Sea."

Jarman has information about The Fiddlehead on site, along with copies for purchase. Stop by and see what he is up to!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another Celebration for Our Summer Issue

Please join fiction co-editor Mark Jarman, next week's Fredericton Arts Alliance artist-in residence, for a  lunch-time celebration of a very special Summer Fiction Issue of The Fiddlehead. All through the summer, two artists of different disciplines share a studio in the Casemates (historic soldiers' barracks) in downtown Fredericton.

Drop by for brief readings celebrating the Summer Fiction Issue and take a look at the beautiful new issue of The Fiddlehead magazine, 12:45pm, August 29.

The issue boasts new stories from Dan Woodrell (writer of Oscar winner Winter’s Bone), Craig Davidson (writer of the film Rust and Bone and a UNB grad), local writers Raymond Fraser and Rob Gray, and stories from three accomplished Irish writers, Mary O’Donnell, Mike McCormack and Eoin McNamee, the last nominated for a Man Booker Prize.

This celebration is part of the FAA Artist-in-Residence Public Outreach sessions, which occur throughout the summer. They are free to attend and all are welcome. For more information visit the FAA Studio at the Casemates, by the College of Craft and Design, Monday to Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 12-5.

Jarman, available for consultations during the week at the Casemates, will be sharing the space with Katie Nicholas, who will host a demonstration of basket making on Wednesday August 28 at 2pm.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer Fiction Issue Launch

The Fiddlehead launched the Summer Fiction issue last Thursday, August 1 at Gallery 78 in downtown Fredericton. More than a dozen fiction lovers attended the festivities to hear readings from contributor Ray Fraser and samples from out-of-town contributors read by Fiddlehead editors. Many thanks to Gallery 78!
Fiction co-editor Mark Jarman hosted the launch.
Here, he reads from Eoin McNamee's story

Local writer and contributor to fiction issue Ray Fraser
Ian LeTourneau reads from Mike McCormack's story
Fiction co-editor Gerard Beirne rounded off the evening
by reading from Margaret Sweatman's story
The crowd

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Fiction Issue Launch Reminder and Some Fiddlehead News

Don't forget that our summer fiction issue launch happens tomorrow, August 1 at 7pm. Come down to Gallery 78 in downtown Fredericton (796 Queen Street) and celebrate this strong issue. The launch coincides with Fredericton's culture crawl, a walking tour of downtown galleries and museums.

The Fiddlehead would also like to congratulate a long-time friend of the magazine, Shane Rhodes, who completed his MA in creative writing at UNB and worked on the editorial board of the magazine while completing his studies. Shane has just begun a stint as the 2013 Arts Queensland Poet in Residence down under in Australia. According to the press release, the director of the Queensland Poetry Festival Sara Gory says that it was "Rhodes' thought-provoking project, one exploring textual histories of colonisation, as well as his experimental style that made him stand out as an artist whose contribution to Australia’s poetry culture would be unique and invaluable." The Fiddlehead is proud to have published two poems from this project in the Winter 2013 issue.

Here's a link to the Queensland Poetry Festival.

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) recently interviewed The Fiddlehead's editor Ross Leckie about the magazine's history and Canadian writing in general. Go read their "Moveable Type" interview with Ross here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Fiction Issue Launch!

When? 7pm on August 1, 2013 (as part of Downtown Fredericton's Culture Crawl)

Where? Gallery 78, 796 Queen St., Fredericton

Please drop by Gallery 78 August 1 for a launch and celebration of a very special Summer Fiction Issue of The Fiddlehead, an issue which boasts new stories from Dan Woodrell (writer of Oscar winner Winter’s Bone), Craig Davidson (writer of the film Rust and Bone and a UNB grad), local author Raymond Fraser, and three accomplished Irish writers, Mary O’Donnell, Mike McCormack and Eoin McNamee, the latter a Man Booker Prize nominee. There is a tense tale by Lt. Col. Wick Walker, who writes about stealth dealings with warlords and Saudis in Afghanistan just as the Russians are leaving, based on his own hair-raising experiences, and there are stories from newer young Canadian writers Amy Jones and Clea Young.

Please join us for brief readings from the Summer Fiction Issue to celebrate this very strong issue of The Fiddlehead.