Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays from The Fiddlehead!

Our office is closing today for the holidays. We will be back January 4, 2016 — until then, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

Monday, December 21, 2015

An Interview with Wayne Yetman, Contributor to The Fiddlehead Autumn 2015 Issue

Wayne Yetman
Wayne Yetman, whose story "His Brother's Keeper" appears in our current Autumn issue, writes fiction and non-fiction from a base in Toronto. His short stories have previously appeared in The Antigonish Review and The New Quarterly, among others. This interview was conducted by Fiddlehead editorial assistant Ryan Gaio by email in early December 2015.

Ryan Gaio: I'd like to start on a very macro level: I'm always curious to know about other writers' creative processes, and particularly, the genesis of their work. Could you tell us a bit about how "His Brother's Keeper" came about? What triggered the chain of falling dominoes that led to this tale?

Wayne Yetman: I knew a man whose brother was castrated as a cancer treatment. It struck me that this embarrassing topic rarely comes up in fiction and I should do something with it. But when I wrote the first few paragraphs the caregiver emerged as arrogant and condescending. From there, like a dog dashing from tree to tree in the park, I simply followed my nose to wherever it led me. The castration business retreated in importance, becoming just one of several tools accentuating the caregiver's dubious commitment to his cause.

RG: I recently had the pleasure of reading a new submission of yours to The Fiddlehead. I forget the title, but it, too, focused on two brothers, one of which was taking care of the other. I was wondering: is this a recurring trope in your stories? If so, what is it about the bond between siblings — particularly male siblings — that so interests you? Is it an urge rooted in autobiography, or is it just a dynamic you find creatively stimulating?

WY: I have to confess I have no particular interest in siblings, male or female. Yes, several of my recent stories deal with brothers but I am a high production writer and have written many many stories that have nothing to do with brothers. I am not a Man With A Mission or A Message. I just grab hold of a phrase or image I like and build from there.

But you have caught on to something in that most of my stories focus on only two people, usually husband and wife. That reflects my own experience. I was an only child from a working class family, a hard core Introvert, and am married without children. So I don't feel equipped to write about kids or young people. I have very little violence in my stories, no one uses the F-word, and there are no drug dealers, alcoholics, or serial abusers. I seem to write about ostensibly educated and successful adults churning around in the sand box of life. I find that to be great fun.

RG: The story is told by a 3rd-person narrator, yet it is largely filtered through David's perspective. Many of the other characters' thoughts and feelings are distilled to the reader through David's assumptions of those characters' thoughts and feelings — David "could tell" Rupert's mind was fixed on Rosemary; David "could see them struggling to keep from shaking their heads in despair." It's quite possible that these are wrong assumptions on his part, yet they're what the reader is given. So, I'm curious: why did you choose this narrative tactic, and particularly, why did you choose this method rather than have David as a 1st-person narrator?

WY: The tack once I got going was to 'out' David as a not very pleasant person and an unreliable caregiver. But I really got a kick out of his nasty thoughts, reprehensible as they were. It's important to me to play with a story rather than get too solemn. His habit of deluding himself was a major part of that. If I had used his first person voice then the reader would never be quite clear how reliable he really was. The way I did it I could steer things a little more.

Mind you, this is all hindsight. I don't have a plan when I start a story. It tells itself the way it wants to.  

RG: Oftentimes, I found David's judgments about the story's other characters to be overly critical, sometimes condescending. He feels Tony's favorite restaurant is "hardly the place for a celebration"; he rather cruelly looks down upon a colleague who has to plan his own retirement party. What made you choose to instill David with these critical characteristics, and do you feel there is a link between these attitudes and his career in the civil service?

WY: I laboured in the civil service for a while and found it very frustrating. But once I got out on my own I discovered that I was still just as frustrated, just as angry, just as pouty as before. This was a huge lesson in my life. I learned that I was as much a part of the problem as the bureaucracy. So ever since I have tried to be a little less demanding of others and more flexible myself.

Unfortunately, in the heat of writing this story I dropped my guard and let my ugly thoughts of the past take over. But David is so wonderfully petty and seduced me entirely.

RG: One of David's most critical attitudes is displayed towards his ex-sister-in-law's career as a writer — he condescendingly remarks that Rosemary was "no doubt assessing the whole affair for a place in her latest opus," and there is, throughout, a suggestion that Rosemary pilfers or leeches her own life for material. I was curious to know what your intentions were with this characterization? Do you echo David's sentiment that there is something shameful or exploitative in a writer writing about their own life?

WY: I certainly do not see writers as exploitative when they draw on their own lives or what they see around them. I do it all the time. But there are people who would take another view on that issue and David, God bless him, might be one of them. That's fine. He may be right — there must be exploitive writers out there somewhere. But really, to me this is all just part of his sour personality. I don't think he has a hard and fast position on writing or writers. He's out there zooming towards Saturn — he's not grappling with questions that intrigue wordsmiths.

I would hope that readers pay attention to the other characters as much as David. He may be entertaining but I thought the rest of them handled a potentially painful series of events in a pretty positive way. Their maturity further sets off his immaturity in my mind.

RG: I read Rupert's medically-necessary castration as a symbol of demasculinization. Was this symbol intentional? If so, what, do you feel is its significance to this story, particularly when paired with Rosemary's feminine power?

WY: To me, Rupert's medical problems are nothing more than medical problems. I did not envision some sort of demasculation struggle going on between him and his former wife. But if that is what the reader sees then so be it. Maybe I don't recognize my own genius. Maybe David is having the demasculation crisis.

On the other hand, Rosemary and Rupert seem to find common ground in the end. So if there was a demasculation struggle then it seems to have resolved itself fairly positively.

RG: The ending lines, for me, suggest that despite David's best attempts to protect and know his brother, the reader realizes that David really knows little about Rupert, and that Rupert's life is beyond David's control. What is this ending meant to suggest for the two brothers and their relationship? Which brother, exactly, is the keeper of the other? What does this ending suggest about the relationship between siblings, particularly relationships in which power dynamics try to establish one sibling as "protector" of the other?

WY: I would not like to claim any particular wisdom when it comes to sibling relationships. I enjoyed watching David act out his strange illusions with the hint that he might soon be hoisted on his own petard. But to me, there was something far more important going on.

My experience is that unusual tensions can emerge when a family member is very sick or dying. I wouldn't want to be too judgmental about those tensions. Dying is a hard old haul and I'd like to give the literary participants as much leeway as possible. So while David comes out appearing as a bit of a nasty, I hope I didn't turn him into the essence of evil. He's just one of us, struggling on, baggage and all.

RG: Again, to return to the macro: Who are some of the writers you sought for inspiration on a piece like this one? Are those influences different from the writers who typically influence your work?

Issue No. 265 (Autumn 2015)

WY: I didn't particularly seek out anyone for inspiration on this story or any other story. But I regularly re-read Alice Munro's short stories — she is the best and I would like to learn from her success. Years ago I was addicted to Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood. Both of those writers seemed to bring a clean yet incisive style to complex interpersonal conflicts.

I have learned the most from simply hammering out story after story over the years. Gradually my writing evolved from amateurish to better. Every so often a story stands up and yells: "Look at me, look at me. I'm really good." I've had twenty-eight stories published so there's been a decent amount of yelling. But a lot of the time the little guys just slink away into the Active But Resting file. It keeps me humble.

RG: BONUS QUESTION JUST FOR FUN: You're stranded on an island with nothing but a record player and one album of your choosing. Which is it???

WY: I recognize this question offers me the opportunity to burnish my authorial "brand" with a quirky revelation. I must fail this test. Writing takes a lot of time so music is a low priority with me. I couldn't imagine listening to any album for any length of time. Besides, on a remote island there probably wouldn't be any electricity to run the record player.

But I would be eager to take the Bible to this island. I am not religious but I have always wanted to read the entire Bible in a relaxed manner and understand what it says and how it is constructed. This could be my opportunity. I suspect this choice will not do much for my authorial image however.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Fiddlehead's 25th Annual Contest is Now Closed!

December 1 has come and gone, and The Fiddlehead's 25th annual contest is now closed.

Thank you to all the writers who entered! We are currently processing the contest entries, and the selection process will begin in January. Winners and honourable mentions will be personally contacted by the end of February. 

Good luck to all those who entered!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Books Received — What are you Looking Forward to Read?

Below is a picture of the recent books received at the office. What are you most looking forward to reading this winter? Tell us! Go to the comment field below (or to Facebook or Twitter) and tell us what you're most looking forward to reading!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

An Interview with Rachel Rose, Contributor to The Fiddlehead Autumn 2015 Issue

Rachel Rose. Photograph by Thomas Langdon
Rachel Rose is currently Vancouver’s Poet Laureate. She has published four collections of poetry: Giving My Body to Science, Notes on Arrival and Departure, Song and Spectacle, and most recently, Marry & Burn. She is also a short story writer and an essayist whose work has been published in literary magazines and anthologies across Canada and the United States. Her poem, “Sunflowers” (among others), is featured in The Fiddlehead Autumn 2015 issue. This interview was conducted by Fiddlehead editorial assistant Emily Skov-Nielson by email in late November 2015.

Emily Skov-Nielsen: Firstly, I’d like to ask a question about your poetic process: where does a poem begin for you — in other words, is it an image that first inspires you, a line or phrase, maybe a metaphor?

Rachel Rose: A poem begins for me sometimes with a line or an image, or the juxtaposition of two images; sometimes there is an inciting incident, a scrap of conversation, a statistic, a trauma, an irritation.

ESN: I can honestly say that your poem, “Sunflowers,” was my favourite from The Fiddlehead’s Autumn 2015 issue and one of the best elegiac poems I’ve read in some time. The opening stanza is so musical in its rhythm and with its alliteration, and there is of course the allusion to the timeless playground song/game Red Rover. This first stanza is almost like an incantation that pulls you into the poem. I’m wondering if you could provide some insight into your creative intentions regarding this opening.

I know from my own experience that elegies can be incredibly difficult to write — with an elegy, there seems to be an increased potentiality for melodrama, sentimentalism, or veering towards the cliché; however, “Sunflowers” skillfully evades all of these poetic dangers. Was this a difficult poem to write for any of these suggested reasons? If not, what were some of the difficulties in writing this poem?

RR: Thank you for your generous words about “Sunflowers.” This poem both tells and evades; at the beginning it hovers, like the hummingbird, then darts away — you may think you know the subject matter of the poem from that first playful stanza, but you are being led off course, distracted by the flight, and then, when you are not expecting it, comes the elegiac notes. Throughout, “Sunflowers” drops lines, says too much in parts, goes too hard and too far, breaking through as children do, roughly, when playing Red Rover. It confesses little, though it holds much pain between the lines.

ESN: I’d like to draw attention to what was, for me, one of the most painful parts of the poem, the lines: “your hands / that an old boyfriend called / the ugliest hands I’ve ever seen on a woman.” This ruthless quotation that the speaker recalls, although heartbreaking, provides an interesting contrast and dynamic to the poem. Can you provide any insights regarding your choice to include this fierce, surprising moment?

RR: There are things we are told that we carry with us forever, and that we pass on to others, because of their extraordinary ability to cut. This was one of those things, passed on — another kind of inheritance.

ESN: There are several dropped lines in “Sunflowers” — what, creatively, does a dropped line enable you to do?

RR: Dropped lines in this poem allow me to imitate the flight of hummingbirds, the nodding of flowers, the pattern of bees swarming, the reticence of speech that doesn’t trust its right to be spoken.

ESN: The natural world is central to this poem — flower, bee, moon, and bird imagery are all present. Are these things that commonly inspire you and your writing, or are they particular to this poem and its subject matter?
Issue No. 265 (Autumn 2015)

RR: The natural world is a source of deep inspiration in my work, though I don’t consider the urban world separate from nature. I grew up in some wild places, and what I found and experienced in the wild helped raise and shape me.

ESN: Calling upon a quotation from “Sunflowers,” I’d like to end with a broader question regarding your thoughts on poetry, its practice and purpose: is poetry, for you, “honey to mitigate the sting / of what can’t be said”?

RR: It would be more accurate to say that poetry, my poetry, includes honey to mitigate the sting of what must be said, of what I insist on saying. I try at least to comfort with some taste of sweetness, purity of form, of lyric image, to counteract the sting of the language, of what humans are capable of doing to one another.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

News Roundup: A Review, An Interview, and a Few Upcoming Readings

The Review Review has reviewed our Summer Fiction issue. Reviewer Irene McGarrity says, "The quality of the stories in this issue is undeniable, and the diversity of styles, settings, and perspectives makes for a satisfying cover-to-cover read.  Although these stories vary widely, they all echo a common aesthetic, which I suspect has been seventy years in the making." She continues, "The contents of this particular issue definitely reflect the maturity of the mag along with the curatorial strength of the editor" and then praises many stories, including pieces by Daniel Woodrell, Kathy Page, Alice Petersen, Mona'a Malik, and Rob Doyle.

Read the whole review.

* * * * *

Fiction co-editor Mark Jarman interviewed by The Malahat Review

Jarman is one of three writers judging The Malahat's 2016 novella contest. Recently, he answered some questions by Malahat volunteer Rachael Kearley.

Read the full interview here.

* * * * *

Qwerty launches new double issue

The launch of Qwerty 33/34 is set for Thursday, December 10th at Wilser’s Room, 366 Queen St, Fredericton.

Join us for readings of some of the editors’ faves from the new issue — there will also be games! and prizes! and a fancy door prize including a rare, limited-edition copy of the Doubles chapbook, our joint venture with Echolocation! And, of course, you can watch the return of our current house band, Marky Mark and the Jarmen: featuring (shocker) Mark Anthony Jarman on the harmonica, with Qwerty nerds Alex Carey and Ryan Gaio on guitar and vocals. Lastly, managing editors Katie and Rebecca will announce Qwerty’s 2015 Pushcart nominations.

You can RSVP here.

* * * * *

Odd Sundays at Corked Wine Bar

The next gathering of Odd Sundays, and the last before the holidays, will be on December 13th at 2 p.m. at Corked Wine Bar, .83 Regent St.

The featured readers will be members of the local writing group, Fictional Friends. The group has been active and engaged in writing since 2006. Members write poetry, fiction (short and long), essay and memoir, etc. On the 13th, the group will have its new self-published chapbook, “butter and eggs,” on hand. Whether they read from it or from their other work remains to be seen.

Come and enjoy this slice of local writing talent, buy a beverage of your choice, and cross your fingers for the book draw.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Odd Sundays Reading Series Presents Local NaNoWriMo Particpants

Odd Sundays is meeting at Corked Wine Bar (83 Regent St.) this Sunday, November 29th at 2 pm. The featured readers will be from the local NaNoWriMo group.

For those who don’t recognize it, NaNoWriMo, is short for National Novel Writing Month. It's an annual fun challenge where writers work to complete a full novel during the month of November. This Sunday's event will showcase works created by local writers during this year's NaNoWriMo. It promises to be an enjoyable and interesting afternoon.

As usual, you'll be able buy something to drink, settle back and listen to the readers, put your name into the book draw, and, if you wish, sign up and participate in the open mic reading set.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Frances Firth Gammon, 1918-2015

Frances Firth Gammon, one of the founding members of The Fiddlehead, has passed away at the age of 97. There will be a memorial at the Alumni Memorial Building (3 Bailey Dr.) on the UNB campus on November 29th at 4.30 p.m.

In addition to being a founding member of The Fiddlehead, Frances Firth Gammon was UNB's first archivist and was commissioned as a researcher for an early biography of Lord Beaverbrook. You can read a full biographical entry, written by her daughter Carolyn Gammon, in The New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Fiddlehead Autumn Issue is Now Out!

The autumn issue of The Fiddlehead is now out — it should be showing up in your mailbox soon! — and culminates the celebration of our 70th year of publishing. No. 266 is bursting at its seams with a harvest of wonderful stories and poems from established and emerging authors from across Canada as well as from the USA and Northern Ireland. It features "Sleeping (2015)," a wonderful oil painting by Stephanie Weirathmueller on the cover. 

We have stories by Steven Heighton, Lorna Jackson, Paul Carlucci, and Wayne Yetman. 

We have poems from Rachel Rose, Dan O'Brien, Nick Thran, Annick MacAskill, Allison LaSorda, John Terpstra, Jane Spavold Tims, Lenea Grace, Sean Howard, John Barton, Elizabeth Hoover, Howard Wright, Michelle Barker, Nathan Mader, Mike Caesar, Conor Mc Donnell, Sarah B, Wiseman, and Bert Almon.

There are also five stellar book reviews: Shane Neilson on Kerry-Lee Powell's Inheritance,  Richard Kelly Kemick on Kayla Czaga's For Your Safety Please Hold On, M. Travis Lane on Gillian Wigmore's Orient, Rebecca Geleyn on Kim Aubrey's What We Hold in Our Hands, and Mark Dickinson on Andrew Forbes' What You Need.

Not a subscriber? Rush to your local magazine stand and grab a copy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Qwerty Reads at Wilser's Room on Thursday, November 19

Join Qwerty, UNB's graduate student creative writing magazine, at the Wilser's Room (366 Queen Street) this Thursday, November 19, for the first Qwerty Reads event of the year! They have an impressive lineup of readers, including current UNB Writer-in-Residence Gerard Beirne, poet extraordinaire Triny Finlay, current UNB students Reid Lodge, Rebecca Salazar and Noah Page, plus musical performance from Mark Jarman's band.

Music starts at 6:30. Readings begin at 7:00.


Triny Finlay is the author of the poetry collections Splitting Off (Nightwood, 2004), Histories Haunt Us (Nightwood, 2010), and the chapbook Phobic (Gaspereau, 2006). Her writing has appeared in various publications, including ARC, Breathing Fire 2: Canada’s New Poets, The Fiddlehead, and University of Toronto Quarterly. She lives with her family in Fredericton, where she teaches English and Creative Writing at the UNB.

Gerard Beirne is an Irish writer now living in Canada. He has published three novels and two collections of poetry. His collection of short stories, In A Time Of Drought And Hunger, is forthcoming from Oberon Press this Fall. He is a past recipient of The Sunday Tribune/Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year Award. His novel The Eskimo in the Net (Marion Boyars Publishers, London) was short-listed for The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award 2004. His collection of poetry Digging My Own Grave (Dedalus Press) was runner-up in The Patrick Kavanagh Award. His short story “Sightings of Bono” was adapted for a film featuring Bono (U2).

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Odd Sundays Reading Series presents M. Travis Lane and Roger Moore on November 15

Fredericton's longest-running, poetry-and-more reading series, ODD SUNDAYS, meets this coming Sunday, November 15 at Corked Wine Bar, 83 Regent St. at 2pm. 

Our readers for that afternoon will be two local poets: Roger Moore, and M. Travis Lane, who was recently short-listed for the 2015 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. 

Roger Moore is a poet, short story writer, novelist, critic, and a creative artist in various forms of multi-media. He has more than 130 poems published in over 25 Canadian Literary Magazines and has so far published 10 poetry books, 11 poetry chapbooks, and 1 collection of short stories. He lives in Island View, New Brunswick.  But, since he lives on the other side of the hill from the river, there is not an island in sight! 

M. Travis Lane, B. A. Vassar,  M.A., PhD, Cornell,  has published fifteen collections of poetry. She has won numerous honours, among them the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, the Banff Centre Bliss Carman Award,  the Atlantic Poetry Prize,  the Alden Nowlan Prize for Literary Excellence, and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Awards for Poetry in 2015.. Canadian by choice, she has lived in Fredericton, New Brunswick since 1960.

Don’t forget the open mic session and the usual book draws.

Please come and have a wine, beer, tea or coffee, and enjoy the work of two of our very own poets. And remember that we will meet at Corked, 83 Regent St.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Welcoming Winter with John Thompson’s At the Edge of the Chopping there are no Secrets

Dear Reader,

John Thompson on the Tantramar Marshes, 1971
While on the cusp of the cold season, the dreaded (dare I say it?) — winter — the way I see it, we have two options: we can gripe and groan, stomp our muklukked feet, wave our wind-chapped fists and curse these northern latitudes, OR, we can treat ourselves to the brilliant, brumal poems of the inimitable John Thompson. Thompson was, in the words of Michael Ondaatje, “our bright, brief star." For those unfamiliar with him, John Thompson was an English-born poet that spent the latter years of his life teaching at Mount Allison University while living in the rural village of Jolicure, northeast of Sackville. Thompson wrote two books of poetry before he died at the age of 38 in 1976. His first book, At the Edge of the Chopping there are no Secrets, was published in 1973 and was followed by Stilt Jack, published posthumously in 1978. Stilt Jack is widely referred to as one of the finest books of poetry written in Canada. However, the majority of Thompson’s winter poems are from At the Edge of the Chopping; the perfect guide to embracing winter as a time of intense reflection, fierce creativity, and uncanny beauty.


First Day of Winter

I step out in the air, it is almost
                  blue, the cold
folds around my wrists;

crusty scabs on grey
         maple trunks, the last
faded gold tamarack needles.

John Thompson


At the Edge of the Chopping largely unfolds within a hibernal world of surreal domesticity and rural imagery, where everyday life is strikingly transformed: “in the dark / of the oven,” winter bread becomes a moon that “gleams” and “fattens.” This wintry world is, at times, severe: “I raise my red arm against the wall of the woods: / salute,  / it is eaten / into flashes of snow, catspruce needles, shreds.” Its cold is penetrating and meddlesome, “it is that hour when winter, a knife / clean / as the salt wind / probes those wounds we no longer disguise.”  But for the most part, winter in Thompson’s poems is a season of vivid, other-worldly beauty; where “deep below the ice the trout / are perfect,” and “the Great Bear” glitters, “dipped, rooting for berries / under the snow in the next meadow.”  Life in these poems does not cease, but alters and deepens.


It’s in winter I hear you, breathing
          under the snow, weeping
behind a wall of frost.

Is it weeping?

from, “Norman Tower’s”


Winter with its dark cold days, draws us inward — physically and figuratively. In the words of Thompson, it is the season “of woolen socks, and wine,” when we “build a fierce fire,” and “sip whiskey chilled in the snow.” Yes, you heard the man, winter can be the perfect opportunity to indulge in Dionysian pleasures of drinking and slipping slowly into poetic madness: “It’s in the dark we approach / our energies, that instant / the tide is all fury, still,  / at the full.” But in order to foster a deep, authentic appreciation of winter, believe it or not, you’re going to need more than whiskey and wine. The key to savouring this season is learning to be mindful of, and responsive to, the everyday understated moments of grace: “I am content / to reach into the still cold, without dreams, / listening to the voices fading / on the narrow road.” To echo a line from Stilt Jack, absence, in Thompson’s winter poems, makes presence.


gone behind days of snow;

through the crook of your arm
I catch the moon
broken with frost

in shadow
bones persist.

from, “Winter is By Far the Oldest Season”


Looking back now at our two options of how to deal with the immanent icy weather, I think it’s safe to say that reading John Thompson is the far more rewarding. In fact, Goose Lane Editions has recently reissued John Thompson: Collected Poems & Translations, edited by Peter Sanger, so if you don’t already have a copy, buy yourself two — one for yourself, and one for that bizarro relative of yours (who you suspect has a closeted love of poetry). As I’m writing, my own copy of this book is falling apart from extensive use, a bittersweet testimony to its excellence.

There’s really no point in holding a grudge against winter since, let’s face it, it’s the prevailing season here in New Brunswick. So the next time the snow flies, resist the urge to curse and clench your jaw — sit back, pour yourself a glass of something dark and spirituous, and immerse yourself in Thompson’s magnetizing winter world: “this place suddenly yours.”


in the waking of our marrow, now
the call
of this first bird,

the breath of our white voices.

from, “Day Without Omens”


With warmest regards,

Emily Skov-Nielsen
Editorial Assistant

** P.S ** For all you die-hard fans out there, it’s about time you revisit Janna Graham's audio documentary, Four Houses of John Thompson, which includes a rare recording of Thompson reading from Stilt Jack — and from all of you first-time listeners, I’ll be expecting your heartfelt thanks in the form of Christmas cards.

[Thanks to Janna Graham for granting permission to include her documentary. Contributions were made by the late poet Douglas Lochhead, as well as poets Peter Sanger and Allen Cooper, and Thompson's former students Cheri Croft-Wilson and Jane Irwin. Photo below by Cheri Croft-Wilson.]

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Defense of Stuart McLean

I have a confession. A deep and disturbing confession — twisted and sick, some might say. As a graduate student in English Literature, it may shock some. It might offend others, and a few might even call for my immediate academic termination. But I don’t want to hide it any longer. For too long, I’ve shivered in shame, knock-kneed and flustered. I’ve wished it wasn’t so, and yet it was. It is. But I will hide no longer. I’ll climb to the top of an ivory tower and I will shout my secret, and I will defend it like a thesis.

My favourite Canadian writer is Stuart McLean.

Image of Stuart McLean
I say this with no irony, either. I’m not trying to be any sort of Canadiana hipster (eh). I mean this, fully and completely. I really truly dig Mr. McLean.

You may be staring at your screen now, wide-eyed and wide-mouthed. You may have slapped your forehead, dumbed and disbelieving, and at the very least, I bet you’ve probably snickered. I’m used to it. One time, I was at a Writers’ Circle meeting, back in my hometown, and someone told me that when I read, I almost sound like Stuart himself.

“Ugh,” said one of the other members, an old grey-haired guy, with a posh accent. “Don’t insult the poor kid!”

Insult me? I didn’t understand. As a Vinyl Café fan, I was flattered by the sweet-nuthins being whispered in my ear; the old guy reacted like I’d been branded by some sorta scarlet (maple?) letter. I figured he was just a curmudgeon — he was probably the kinda guy who, if 'tis the season, hates Santa Claus, too — and so, exhibiting trademark Canadian pacifism, I shrugged it off. And Sunday mornings, I continued to spin my radio dial 'till I found the CBC, and when I did, I’d listen to Stuart, and I’d smile.

The anti-Stu sentiments started striking me, most significantly, when I got to UNB. I noticed it first in a bookstore downtown. I walked into the shop and I heard a familiar narrator coming from the store’s speakers.

“Are you listening to the Vinyl Café?!” I asked the clerk, eagerly.

He rolled his eyes. “Unfortunately.”

I’ve noticed the same sort of reactions from my classmates, colleagues and profs. Whenever someone mentions Stuart McLean, it’s always with a hint of holier-than-thou deprecation, the way a pair of proud parents might dismiss their daughter’s now-ex-husband. I grew intellectually insecure. I figured they were right and I was wrong, and I was ready to take my dunce cap into the corner and try to wrap my head around “worthier writing.”

But I won’t sit silently anymore. Stuart McLean: I will stand on guard for thee.

I’ve thought a lot about why so many lit-lovers are so quick to put the guy down, and I think there are many possible reasons. I think some people hate the distinctly Stuart McLean way Stuart McLean reads. I think they think it’s a put-on voice, and maybe it is. But we’re all stylists in some way, aren’t we? I’m sure, from time to time, Kerouac’s stuff is a bit Kerou-whackier than it had to be. So Stu hams it up — that’s just show biz, baby. And I think maybe others think his stories are too “Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul,” and I’ll admit: they can be as saccharine and sweet as maple syrup. But thinking that this is a fault of his stories is slightly problematic, if only because I think such thinking forgets the reason we fell in love with stories in the first place.

Last year, I started working on a podcast. In it, I read a story that I wrote; it was indebted, innately and entirely, to Stuart’s own show. I put out a story that the writer in me was slightly embarrassed by, though my sensitive soul dug. It was about a guy whose wife dies tragically, and he’s gotta try to raise 3 young kids on his own. I wanted it to tug on people’s heartstrings; depending on your temperament, it was either hopeful and human, or Hallmark and hokey. Not even I knew how I felt about it.

Anyways, I put the thing out, and it got a lot of positive feedback. Some people told me they were so moved they cried. A girl even wrote me a letter from Mexico. At a family function, my aunt and my father — who’d never read a book unless it was the biography of a Toronto Maple Leaf — debated its ending with the bright-eyed zest of a first-year undergrad (before they’re all burnt-out and bitter from too much theory and oh-so-many –isms) The point is, it affected people. It moved them, probably more than anything else I’d ever written.

Seeing I had now hooked an audience, I decided I’d drop something the writer in me was proud of. This sucker was a “serious piece.” It was “literary,” and was the kind of thing I’d think about submitting to The Fiddlehead. It had metaphors and cryptic lines, and somewhere deep down in it, if you dug far enough, were some grandiose themes. It was “art,” man.

I put it out. People felt nothing.

Perhaps the problem was the wrong people heard it. Perhaps the piece just sucks. But it made me think about my writing, and why I bother doing it at all.

Art is a means of self-expression, obviously, but it’s also — perhaps most importantly — a way of making sense of our world. At its most basic, it is meant to entertain, enlighten, and enrich our lives. I think as upper-level arts students/critics/appreciators, we can sometimes forget this basic intention. Art does not need to be complex, challenging, heady, abstract, and deep to be “art.” It can be, but it doesn’t have to be — and in fact, art that is those things, like my second piece desperately hoped to be, runs the risk of being elitist and exclusionary. Art that is those things runs the risk of failing to do the very things we turn to art for.

I think this is what makes Stuart McLean my favourite. His stuff is simple and accessible, and I don’t see this as its weakness, but its strength. His tales of Dave and Morley are heartfelt and humorous; in any episode of The Vinyl Café, you might laugh or you might cry or you might likely do both. His audience is varied and diverse — as is our national population. I know children who dig the show, and I know seniors who do, too, and once, at a party, I met a guy who told me he’d spent the summer driving across Canada, getting stoned and listening to tapes of The Vinyl Café. As art often can, it brought us together; because of Stu, we became pals. Stuart McLean’s show unites Canadians, and this may sound idealistic and naïve — and maybe it is — but in a nation so fractured by the political lines recently drawn across our soil by an endless election campaign, it’s a welcome notion.

It’s one of the reasons we turn to art in the first place, isn’t it?

I’m not saying all artists need to sell themselves out to a mass audience. We needn’t all be teenybopper pop stars with trendy hairdos and silly slogans. I’m also not even saying I think Stuart McLean is “the best” Canadian writer (whatever that even means). But I am saying he’s my favourite, and I think that’s a distinction that too often gets forgotten. It seems to me, too, that throughout my post-secondary education, I’ve been nudged towards works of art that profoundly affect the head, and have been discouraged away from works that profoundly affect the heart. Maybe the best works do both — probably the best works do both — but I’m not sure it’s fair to prioritize one effect over the other. What I do know is I’ve walked around this city, listening to Stuart McLean read the words he’s written, and have had tears roll down my cheeks. That is a more pronounced effect than any of the texts on any of my course syllabi have had on me. Just like Springsteen once sang: “We learned more from a three-minute record, baby, than we ever learned in school.” Can’t argue with that. He is The Boss.

The motto of the fictitious Vinyl Café says “We may not be big, but we’re small.” It’s a pretty great motto for a record shop, but I think it’s even better as a defense of Stuart McLean. His stories may not be big, but they’re small — and that’s exactly what I want from them.

Ryan Gaio 
Editorial Assistant

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

UNB Reading Series Presents Joan Clark

The University of New Brunswick's 2015 Reading Series invites you to a reading by Joan Clark on Friday, October 30th, 8pm, at Marshall d’Avray Hall in the Dugald Blue Auditorium in Fredericton. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Clark’s most recent work is The Birthday Lunch, a novel set in Sussex, New Brunswick. She is also the author of the novels Latitudes of Melt, The Victory of Geraldine Gull, and Eiriksdottir, as well as two short story collections and several award-winning novels for young adults. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, she has lived in various places across Canada. Together with Edna Alford, she began the literary magazine Dandelion.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fiddlehead Summer Fiction Issue Reviewed on NewPages

The Fiddlehead's Summer Fiction issue has just been reviewed on New Pages, a source of news, information, and guides to independent magazines, publishers, and music. David Morgan O'Connor praises the "extreme quality of this summer fiction issue," which he says "exudes wisdom, diversity, and a sophistication that younger publishers need to experience to fully apprehend." O'Connor singles out a few stories for praise, including pieces by Daniel Woodrell, Alice Pederson, and D.R. MacDonald, but "was highly impressed with the range and quality of Fiddlehead’s selections. I would love to go through and summarize each individual story here, but I suggest you go find a copy yourself and read every page."

Read the full review here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

UNB Reading Series Presents Deni Y. Béchard

The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to a reading by Deni Béchard on Wednesday, October 21st at 8PM in the Dugald Blue Auditorium in Marshall d’Avray Hall on the Fredericton campus.

Deni Béchard is the author of Vandal Love, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, was selected for Oprah’s Book Club’s summer reading list and been translated into French, Arabic, and Russian; Cures for Hunger, a memoir about growing up with his father who robs banks, and an IndieNext pick and editor’s pick for best memoir/biography in 2012. He has traveled in more than sixty countries and reported from India, Rwanda, the Congo, Afghanistan, and Northern Iraq. He was written for the LA Times, Outside, Foreign Policy, Salon, Maisonneuve and The Harvard Review.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

UNB's Writer-in-Residence

UNB’s Writer-in-Residence for October and November of 2015 is Gerry Beirne.

Gerard Beirne is an Irish writer now living in Canada. He has published three novels and two collections of poetry. His collection of short stories, In A Time Of Drought And Hunger, is forthcoming from Oberon Press this Fall. He is a past recipient of The Sunday Tribune/Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year Award. His novel The Eskimo in the Net (Marion Boyars Publishers, London) was short-listed for The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award 2004. His collection of poetry Digging My Own Grave (Dedalus Press) was runner-up in The Patrick Kavanagh Award. His short story “Sightings of Bono” was adapted for a film featuring Bono (U2).

Contact Gerry for advice and feedback on your creative writing projects.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Congratulations to M. Travis Lane on a Governor-General's Award Nomination

In honour of M. Travis Lane being shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry, we're pleased to reprint Shane Neilson's introduction to the retrospective of her work that appeared in last summer's poetry issue (No. 260, Summer 2014).

* * * * *

Introduction to M. Travis Lane

What is the word but the change in the surf,
or the salt that dries on the swimmer’s lips —
says out of the swimming, freedom,
and out of the freedom, pain —
— Travis Lane, “Your Other Word”

I drive to Fredericton from Guelph every bridging weekend between September and October to visit my aging parents, to see the tree leaves signal their riotous death-parade along the Saint John River . . . and I come for poetry too. I come to find out what the word is, hereabouts. The Fiddlehead, the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton-based publisher Goose Lane Editions, and Ross Leckie put on a poetry conference called Poetry Weekend. This weekend is packed with presenters who read their poems with enthusiasm — and youth. Lots and lots of youth.

Crossover, M. Travis Lane's
GG-shortlisted book
I first met Travis Lane almost eleven years ago at St. Thomas University when she was being honoured with the Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence in the Literary Arts. She signed Keeping Afloat for me. On that occasion I toted copies of Alden Nowlan and Illness, an anthology of Nowlan’s poetry from Frog Hollow Press. When I mentioned this letterpressed anthology to Travis ... she winked. Perhaps this meant she knew a few stories but wouldn’t tell them.

I’ve met with her many more times since, including at her home on Windsor Street. I’ve had tea and brought other poets to have a teaful audience with the great lady. But, more importantly, I’ve watched her read. During Poetry Weekend, in what is the Church of Poetry with Memorial Hall as its official title, Travis seems deceptively out of place. To an outsider, she seems like a poet’s grandmother. But when the woman takes the podium, she transforms. At such moments the place was built for her, the assembled poets arrived that afternoon or evening to hear her. In that frail body is more command and power than most poets can ever possess.

This selection of her work should establish that command. Travis has a lot to offer any poet or reader, including ones like me who shuffle, youthfully revenant-like, into Memorial Hall. But then why, you ask, isn’t she acknowledged to be in the “front rank” of Canadian poets?

How Thought Feels: The Poetry
of M. Travis Lane
, a new book of essays
by Frog Hollow Press.
Briefly, because Travis’ work should be given space to answer: first of all, she lives in New Brunswick, not a fashionable place to live and be popular in poetry. (If he were alive, it would gall Toronto-basher Alden Nowlan to know that Toronto is still the locus for success in poetry.) Second, she’s a woman who wrote better than most of the celebrated men of her time, and so demonstrably so that I make the following claim with confidence: a better “unknown” Canadian male poet of her vintage isn’t to be found. Third, Travis published with respected but small presses during her career. Fiddlehead Poetry Books and its later life as Goose Lane Editions, Cormorant, Guernica — Travis never transitioned to a major press, though she did acquire the Brick label once. Fourth, Travis never taught creative writing or applied for writing grants. She left pobiz for others who wanted to cultivate disciples and obtain money based on the generation of eloquent proposals pertaining to the creation of art. Fifth, she often (but not exclusively, or even predominantly) writes on religious themes — and that fact can even be mentioned in the bumpf on the backs of her books. This isn’t a way to endear oneself to modern readers. Which brings up, sixth, the aesthetics of the covers themselves: until Travis entered her Guernica period, her books were ugly. If Lane’s reputation was to change, then the public would have to have been tempted first by the look of a book on a shelf. When poets come to visit me in Guelph, Lane’s books form part of a parlour game in which, before an evening winds down completely, I demonstrate how the greatest living poet in Canada has the worst covers possible — I call it the “Inversely Proportional Cover Game.” This is a very Canadian game, I figure. What worth flash? Finally, and I weight this factor the most, Travis is best in the long poem mode — and long poems like to get past surface. Long poems take time.

The people who misjudge this woman by her modest career are being fooled by the winking of talent itself. Travis has written a clutch of poems that should do cartwheels in the minds of all her audiences, reader and listener. Her early work is condensed, consonantal, and consistent with the current sound technicianry dominating Canadian Poetry — except that her work espouses far more heart, wisdom, and pain than the contemporary obscurity machine. Travis hypothesizes that other poetry may be more popular because it doesn’t “draw the reader’s attention away from the surfaces of things.” We’re interested in veneer nowadays, the splice and spice of pop, but Travis has always been interested in mystery and the sound of that mystery. Or, as she says, “we are the hymn read backward, and / we are the hymn.”

The Essential Travis Lane,
published by Porcupine's Quill
I wish I had triple the space to include a longer work, for her long poems demonstrate her strange brilliance. Editor Jeannette Lynes in The Crisp Day Closing on My Hand, a volume of Lane poems selected from 2007, astutely assesses Lane’s work as being open “to idiosyncrasy.” Lynes maintains that Travis lets “the odd, the quirky, the eccentric, sing” — and nowhere is this more true than in the long poems, especially in her remarkable “The Witch of the Inner Wood” from Reckonings. she wrote long in the seventies and, readers, the long poems are good. I ask: why haven’t you heard of them? Their worth is impossible to excerpt.

Travis hasn’t been completely ignored of late — as mentioned earlier, Jeannette Lynes oversaw The Crisp Day Closing on My Hand: Selected Poems in 2007, a small selected with Wilfrid Laurier University Press. But that book made little difference (garnering a handful of reviews, none substantial, a majority less than a paragraph long) because the crisp day closed on Travis’s potential fame long ago. I have no real explanation as to why, for Travis Lane is the one of the best Canadian poets alive. Perhaps the best answer is the lack of answer.

Travis Lane is not a local pet project, a dear old one who got valedictory treatment from The Fiddlehead out of nostalgic, local special pleading. Her work will withstand the scrutiny of international audiences accustomed to reading The Fiddlehead features on famous American poets. At the moment I can’t demonstrate in critical terms what exactly I mean, but it has something to do with freedom, pain, variety, and the poetic word. Perhaps a different venue will welcome that future explanation. The Fiddlehead pages are a scarce resource and are best given over to Travis’ work.
I’ve selected what strikes me, what’s short, and was partial to what’s early. Why the latter? One justification is that the early work is the material those passingly familiar with Travis’ poetry probably haven’t seen. In the main, Lynes preferred to re-republish poems from Lane’s earlier collections by working from the editorial selections made in Solid Things, her mid-career Selected with Cormorant. Though it makes sense to look outside the vision of previous editors, I carefully wrote “justification” and not “reason” because I didn’t select the poems out of a desperate need to avoid duplication. Travis’ early talent is better reflected in the choices I’ve made — in fact, the cruellest cuts came when considering her first full collection. This is the long way of saying that an editor in my position must revel in the inadequacy of a restricted presentation of this poet — she’s so good, she spills over tight borders and her poetry permits disagreements between editors. Travis Lane recommends the talents of her editors who have always had it too easy. And Early Lane is particularly astonishing.

Canada — no country for old men, women, or talent? Everyone gets things wrong sometimes, but The Fiddlehead hasn’t on this fine occasion.

Shane Neilson

* * * * *

M. Travis Lane's selected prose will appear next year from Palimpsest, and Goose Lane will follow with an edition of her collected long poems.

WFNB WordsFall Upcoming in Sackville, NB

Don't miss WFNB's upcoming WordsFall gathering on the weekend of November 13-14 in Sackville, NB!

The Friday evening social — Poetry, Prose & Pins — takes place at the Sackville Bowling Hall. It features readings by internationally acclaimed novelist Shandi Mitchell and this year's short-listed poetry winner, Travis Lane. It also includes an open mike session, refreshments, and a best bowling haiku contest.

Saturday offers two in-depth, interactive workshops on the craft of writing. Shandi Mitchell presents "Inside the Heart of Character" on creating characters, and Gwen Martin presents "The Three Energies of Editing" on the secrets of self-editing.

The WordsFall fee of $85 WFNB members/$110 non-members covers both workshops, workbooks, catered lunch, refreshments, and all readings — a real deal. See the website for full details.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Many Fiddlehead Contributors on GG Shortlists!

Congratulations to all the Governor-General Literary Award shortlisted authors announced today by the Canada Council! Five of the shortlisted authors have appeared recently in our pages. Kate Cayley's story collection How You Were Born is up for the fiction prize. Cayley's story "Young Hennerly" appeared in No. 254 (Winter 2013). Most recently she had two poems in No. 262 (Winter 2015). The full fiction list is: 

The Fiddlehead is very happy to see that four out of five authors shortlisted for the poetry award have been recent contributors. The full shortlist is: 

Travis Lane
Kayla Czaga won The Fiddlehead's Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poem in 2014 for "That Great Burgundy-Upholstered Beacon of Dependability," which was published in no. 259 (Spring 2014). We featured three poems from Patrick Lane in our West Coast issue, no. 253 (Autumn 2012), and last summer's poetry issue, no. 260, featured three more poems from Czaga, as well as two from Robyn Sarah, and a substantial retrospective of M. Travis Lane's career, edited and introduced by Shane Neilson. Neilson also recently edited The Essential Travis Lane (Porcupine's Quill, 2015) and How Thought Feels: The Poetry of M. Travis Lane (Frog Hollow Press, 2015). Two more books are forthcoming by Travis as well: Palimpsest Press will be publishing a Selected Prose in 2016, and Goose Lane Editions will be printing a collected long poems in 2016 or 2017. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Books Received — What are you Looking Forward to Read?

Below is a picture of the recent books received at the office, including Arvida by Samual Archibald (translation by Donald Winkler) that was just shortlisted today for the Giller Prize!

What are you most looking forward to reading this fall? Tell us! Go to the comment field below (or to Facebook or Twitter) and tell us what you're most looking forward to reading!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fiddlehead News Roundup

Emily Bossé
Journey Prize Finalist!

Congratulations to Emily Bossé on being one of three shortlisted finalists for The Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize for her story "Last Animal Standing on Gentleman's Farm" first published in The Fiddlehead no. 258 (Winter 2014). The story is one of twelve that will be published in the Journey Prize Anthology. Also appearing in the anthology is another story originally published in The Fiddlehead. Charlie Fiset's story "Maggie's Farm" appeared in no. 261 (Autumn 2014).

The anthology is set to be published by McClelland & Stewart on October 6. The winners will be announced November 3.

Fiction Editor Mark Jarman at Kingston Writers' Festival

Roch Carrier, Mark Jarman, and Stephen Smith
Fiction editor Mark Jarman is just back from the Kingston Writers’ Festival where he participated on a panel discussion called "He Writes!  He Scores!  Seeking the Best Hockey Book Ever," moderated by Larry Scanlan.

Mark reports that Roch Carrier talked charmingly about his classic book The Hockey Sweater, Stephen Smith read from his new book Puckstruck, and he read from his story "A Nation Plays Chopsticks" and his hockey novel Salvage King Ya!

Mark also reports that at the end there were great questions from young and old in the audience. One question was what player the panelists would like to be. Harold Snepsts popped into his head, and Mark says, "like me, not the smoothest defenceman, but a long career and a good Fu Manchu mustache." Roch Carrier of course chose Rocket Richard.

Contributors from 2015 Publish Books

A.W. Marshall, whose story "In the Highest Limbs" appeared in our Spring 2015 issue (no. 263), has just had his debut book of stories Simple Pleasures published by ELJ Publications. Summer 2015 issue contributor Kevin Hardcastle also just had his debut collection Debris published by Biblioasis. His story "Thought you were fast" appeared in the recent all-fiction Summer issue (no. 264).

And two poetry contributors to our forthcoming Autumn issue (no. 265) have new books forthcoming later this fall, including Rachel Rose (Marry & Burn, Harbour) and Dan O'Brien (New Life, CB Editions).

And Speaking of New Books and Prize Nominations

Poetry editor Phillip Crymble has had his first collection Not Even Laughter published by Salmon Poetry.

Former poetry editor Claire Kelly's poem "Western U-Haul Gothic" was shortlisted for The Walrus Poetry Prize.

Monday, September 28, 2015

UNB Poetry Weekend Takes Place October 3 and 4

The University of New Brunswick invites you to our annual celebration of Canadian poetry, Poetry Weekend! Join us on Saturday and Sunday, October 3rd and 4th, at 11am, 2pm, and 8pm at UNB Fredericton’s Memorial Hall for a series of readings by Canadian poets and authors. Featured guests this year include: James Arthur, Linda Besner, Jeramy Dodds, Sharon McCartney, and Brian Bartlett, as well as many others!

Poetry weekend is presented by the Canada Council for the Arts, the League of Canadian Poets, the Writers’ Union of Canada, the UNB Department of English, the UNB Bookstore, The Fiddlehead, and Icehouse (Goose Lane) Poetry.

Admission to Poetry Weekend is free and anyone is welcome to attend. We look forward to having you join us at one of our most exciting events of the year!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Books Recently Received — What Are You Looking Forward to Reading?

What are you most looking forward to reading this fall? Tell us! Go to the comment field below (or to Facebook or Twitter) and tell us what you're most looking forward to reading!

Monday, September 21, 2015

UNB Reading Series Presents Marina Endicott on September 23

The University of New Brunswick would like to invite you to a literary reading by 2015 Giller long-listed author Marina Endicott September 23rd at 8PM in the Dugald Blue Auditorium in Marshall d’Avray Hall.

Endicott's new novel, Close to Hugh, "takes an exuberantly existential look at youth and age, art and life, love and death over one week in the world of gallery-owner Hugh Argylle."

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Presenting the Judges for our 25th Annual Contest

We're pleased to present the judges for our 25th annual literary contest, which closes December 1 (postmarked). The winners in each category receive $2000. Two honourable mentions in each category receive $250 each. You can find full submission guidelines on our website.

Fiction Judge: Naomi Lewis

Photo credit: Leo Aragon
Naomi K. Lewis is a writer, editor, teacher based in Calgary. She wrote her 2008 novel Cricket in a Fist while a graduate student at UNB, and her 2012 story collection won Enfield & Wizenty's Colophon Prize and was shortlisted for two Alberta book awards. Her non-fiction has been shortlisted for provincial and national magazine awards. Naomi was a magazine editor for the last decade, and will be UNB's writer-in-residence throughout the winter of 2016.

Poetry Judges: Rae Armantrout, Lorna Crozier, and Brecken Hancock

Rae Armantrout has published 12 books of poetry. Her most recent collection, Itself, was published in 2015. Her 2013 book, Just Saying, has just appeared in an Italian edition on stampato presso, Rome.  Her poems have also been collected in a Spanish edition: Rae Armantrout: Poemas: (Spain, 2014).  Versed (2009) received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.  Partly, a volume of new and selected poems will appear in 2016. Her work has appeared in many anthologies such as: The Best of the Best American Poetry: 1988-2012 (2013), The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine (2012). Armantrout was a fellow at the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Italy from June 26 to July 24 2014.

Lorna Crozier has received many awards, including the Governor General’s and B.C.’s Lieutenant’s Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement, as well as five honourary doctorates. An Officer of the Order of Canada, she has published a memoir and 16 books of poetry, the latest called The Wrong Cat, and The Wild in You, a collaboration with the photographer Ian McAllister.  Her poems have been translated into several languages, including a book-length translation in French and another in Spanish, and she has read in every continent, except Antarctica.  She lives on Vancouver Island with Patrick Lane, two turtles, many fish and two fine cats.

Brecken Hancock's poetry, essays, interviews, and reviews have been published or are forthcoming in Brick, Best Canadian Poetry in English, Best American Experimental Writing, Papirmass, Lemon Hound, The Globe & Mail, Hazlitt, and on the site Canadian Women in the Literary Arts. Her first book of poems, Broom Broom (Coach House, 2014), won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, was named by The Globe & Mail's Jared Bland as a debut of the year, and appeared on a number of year-end best-book lists, including the National Post, All Lit Up, and BookThug's Best Reads. She lives in Ottawa.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

An Apology

As editor of The Fiddlehead I apologize for authorizing the posting on our blog of an excerpt from the book Reflections on Music by David Solway submitted by Anstruther Press. A passage from this excerpt displays an insensitivity to racial issues pertaining to African Americans and a failure to understand systemic racism in contemporary America. This post has been removed from our blog.

Ross Leckie

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Charlie Fiset Also Makes Journey Prize Longlist!

We're very pleased to say that we've had a second author longlisted for the 2015 Journey Prize. Charlie Fiset's "Maggie's Farm" from The Fiddlehead 261 (Autumn 2014) is one of twelve stories that will appear in The Journey Prize anthology.

You can revisit an interview with Charlie about her story here.

Congratulations Charlie!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Emily Bossé Makes Journey Prize Longlist

We're pleased to announce that one of our contributors has been long listed for the 2015 Journey Prize! Emily Bossé's "Last Animal Standing on Gentleman's Farm" from The Fiddlehead No. 258 (Winter 2014) is one of twelve stories that will appear in The Journey Prize Anthology

Congratulations Emily!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Books Received — What are you Looking Forward to Read?

What are you most looking forward to reading? Tell us! Go to the comment field below (or to Facebook or Twitter) and tell us what you're most looking forward to reading!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Fiddlehead Summer Fiction Issue Launches this Thursday!

We're pleased to be launching our summer fiction issue at Westminster Books (445 King Street) this Thursday, July 30, at 7pm with our friends at Qwerty, who are celebrating their new joint issue with Echolocation. There will be short readings from both magazines.

The event is free and open to all!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Books Received — What are You Excited to Read?

The Fiddlehead office receives a lot of books from Canadian publishers from coast to coast to coast to consider for book reviews. Not every book can be reviewed, but we hope that this little bit of exposure will bring attention to these wonderful books. And we hope it sparks some conversation about Canadian literature. So, readers, go to the comment field below (or to Facebook or Twitter) and tell us what you're most looking forward to reading!

Happy reading!