28 December 2013

On Reading: Stag's Leap, part two

The second section, "Winter," opens with a poem I keep rereading "Not Going to Him". I'm trying to pinpoint what I find so compelling about this one. Yes, there are some lines I love, "…I am a stunned knower/ of not." and "…on his neck, the scar, doll-saucer of tarnish,/ set in time's throat…" but it's more than just strong images, great word choices.

She builds a momentum that starts just under half-way through the poem and ends fourteen lines later with one long sentence snowballing a conjuring of her (ex) husband through memories of physical details. Her line breaks are interesting and help with the snowball effect. For example, when she breaks a phrase ending the line "and then" reading:
…and up to the nape and then
dive again, as the swells fly
at speed--...

My impulse would have been to end the line at "the nape" and begin the next line with "and then" but I see how this particular enjambment helps build momentum. Clever.

The poem ends with:
…He is alive, he breathes
and moves! My body may never learn
not to yearn for that one, or this could be
a first farewell to him, a life-do-us-part.

I appreciate the sentiment of the division between the body and the mind, the realization that this is the beginning of her knowledge, her acceptance that this is the end, even though part of her will never stop longing.

27 December 2013

On Reading: Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds, part one

(What is this? You can read about the impetus behind it here.)

Received Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds for Christmas this year, officially from my father-in-law, but chosen and purchased by my husband.

Here's a confession: I haven't read much Olds. I've read some of her work in anthologies, but I've never read an entire collection and I haven't read any of her recent work at all.

Boxing Day, I curled up with the collection and a cup of tea and began to read. The opening poem "While He Told Me" is stunning, so much so, I read it aloud to my husband. The lines:
Later, when we took off our clothes, I saw
his deep navel, and the cindery lichen
skin between the male breasts, and from
outside the shower curtains's terrible membrane
I called out something like flirting to him,
and he smiled.
are gorgeous. I hope I never forget the phrase "cindery lichen." Perfect.

The poem has a sense of foreboding to it and, having not read the back cover or managed to hear what the book is about (how, I have no idea), I imagined what he told her to be his own terminal prognosis.

I flipped the page and read "Unspeakable"--a poem about their impending divorce and the other woman--then turned to the back cover:
Stag's Leap is a stunningly poignant sequence of poems that tells the story of a divorce, embracing strands of love, sex, sorrow, memory, and new freedom.

So I looked over to my husband and asked him what he knew of the book before he bought it. "Nothing," he answered. "You're not trying to tell me something with this, are you?" I asked and then read him the back cover. We laughed somewhat uncomfortably (at least, I did).

I pause. Do I want to read a full collection about someone's divorce? It's Sharon Olds and it won the Pulitzer, so yes, I will read it, but will I enjoy it?

"The Flurry" reinforces my bias against dialogue in poetry.

The next few don't excite me. I begin to wonder if confessional poetry just isn't my thing. I don't search it out and perhaps there is a reason for this.

I read "Stag's Leap" and wonder if it's possible to become the writer-in-residence at a BC winery. I'll name my next book "Red Rooster" or "Quail's Gate" for a case or two.

The final three poems in the first section (January-December) feel stronger. Why is this? Am I breaking through the confessional wall? Why do they speak to me in ways that the middles ones didn't? There are lines in each of them that make me pause (in a good way) that the others didn't. Their endings are especially strong. The final lines of "Known to Be Left": "Have faith,/ old heart. What is living, anyway,/ but dying." I love all of "Object Loss." It feels tight and there are strong, unexpected images to ground the emotions. At first, I wasn't sure about "Poem for the Breasts." The title implied a type of poem I read too often in workshops--a "funny" poem that relies on a "twist" or that is ultimately a joke heading towards a punchline. Meh. Thankfully, "Poem for the Breasts" is not a punchline poem, but one that has depth and insight. It was unexpected and a strong way to end the first section.

On Reading, an experiment

This is an experiment whose idea may be better than the execution, whose execution may not survive more than one post or may become a long running series, so we shall see what happens.

I want to keep notes on my reading, especially the poetry I read. The notes, I hope, will help my craft, will help my reading and my teaching. These notes in this somewhat public space are not meant to be read as reviews, but simply notes: thoughts, ideas, revelations, gut-impulses.

And here I go, cannonball.

30 September 2013

being liberated from motherhood liberated me into womanhood

"I don’t think I was able to start learning how to be a woman—or how to write about women, or how to earn the trust of women readers—until the moment I left my first marriage behind and promised myself that neither I nor anybody else would ever force me to have children. Being liberated from motherhood liberated me into womanhood, if that makes sense. I honestly don’t think I had realized prior to that moment that someone could be a woman without being a mother, or that someone could be married without being a mother, but that’s the woman I am now, and needed to be. Once I figured out how to let myself be that person, I could finally relax into this gender and feel safe about exploring its complexities."

Elizabeth Gilbert in an interview in Believer Mag

26 September 2013

on biases

Yesterday, when the David Gilmour "I don't teach women, or Chinese" thing exploded all over my social media feeds, I have to admit, I was enjoying it. The man was so clueless about his privilege, about his sexism, he was the talking embodiment of what's wrong with old white men (yes, old, Mr. Gilmour: 63 is not middle-aged). I found so much joy in watching him not understand why everyone was so mad. I mean, of course, he found absolutely nothing wrong with filling his course with "books he loved" that were only written by "guy-guys" and that he doesn't love any books written by women.

In the midst of my cackling and being snippy on twitter ("I'm going down the hall," I wrote and retweeted others like a crazy person), I was supposed to be going over my notes for my class that afternoon. I stopped as I reviewed the names of the poems I was teaching that day: all white. Yes, there were men and women (mostly women), and there were straight and queer (mostly straight) writers, but all white.

My stomach turned as flipped back over the previous three classes I taught. All white except two: Vikram Seth and Claude McKay. I flipped forward--a bit more diversity coming up: Natalie Diaz, Dionne Brand, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, anonymous Afghani women, Fred Wah, Rita Wong, Sachiko Murakami, LeRoi Jones (Amari Baraka). That's not many. That's not enough.

I'm frustrated with myself. I like to think of myself as not a racist, as an ally. But my bias is obvious: I favour white women. I mostly read white women poets. This has to change.

I'm in a very privileged position in exposing a dynamic, interesting group of young writers to "advanced forms and techniques of poetry"--I get to introduce writers they may haven't read yet. It's my duty to reflect a larger world to them than what's on their shelves and what's on mine.

20 September 2013

research notes: Shaker worship was loud and unruly

"Shaker worship was loud and unruly. It involved singing of an impassioned kind, very out of kilter with the great British tradition of mouthing hymns in a combination of boredom and respect. What the Shakers would have lacked altogether, from an orthodox point of view, is any sense of spiritual etiquette. Indeed, as the writer in the Virginia Gazette had pointed out, they didn't scruple at using folk tunes, some of which had distinctly racy connotations. This was home-made religion, which would have offended the decorum of the established churches and, perhaps more importantly, challenged the class structure and social regulation that were implicit in it."

from Ann the Word: The Story of Ann Lee, Female Messiah, Mother of the Shakers, The Woman Clothed with the Sun by Richard Francis

19 September 2013

Polygamy, I wish I could quit you.

I've been pretty quiet in Coffee Talks. I'll pipe up now and then, but I do feel like the stupidest person in the room. I'm not an academic, despite my love for research and Big Thoughts, and being in a room of high level, very interesting academics makes my artistic brain feel very, very small. And when I do talk, I usually end up getting flustered. I'm a writer, not a public speaker for a very good reason.

But know what will get me talking? Ask me about something to do with early Mormonism, polygamy, or best yet, early Mormon polygamy!

A lovely new fellow asked me about whether the messiahs I'm researching for The Voice in Your Head think about succession (leadership after they're gone), and I said that I'm too early in my research to talk about any of those, but I could talk about Joseph Smith and Mormonism. And whoo-boy, did I ever. We went 15 minutes overtime, which is a lot considering Coffee Talk is supposed to be 45-60 minutes. Will I ever be asked a direct question again? Time will tell, but I imagine it won't be any time soon!

The conversation went all over the place, as it does, but oh the joy I felt talking about Mormonism and polygamy. I really, really love both so much.

But, one of the highlights for me was when one of the fellows (an Anglican priest) asked the two fellows from Algeria and Palestine about polygamy in their home countries. A lot I already knew--the rules in the Qur'an, how it wasn't common, mostly amongst the very rich and very "faithful"--but, I did learn something new about modern polygamy, which I found fascinating.

Apparently, after the bombing of Gaza in 2008 when many men were killed, Hamas not only announced that married men should step up and marry all these new widows, but also they would give the families money to do so. What angered this fellow so much was that it was incredibly rare in this area to see polygamous families, it was almost non-existant in this culture (unlike, he said, in Saudi Arabia and Yemen) and that it was a very expensive to get married in Palestine, so many people simply don't do it because they can't afford to. That Hamas was willing to give money to support polygamy, but not to support monogamous marriages infuriated him. I can understand why.

Exciting new information on modern-day polygamy makes me very, very happy.

16 September 2013

see you on a dark night

The brain is a remarkable instrument. When I'm in the midst of research, it makes connections on my behalf, ones that I wouldn't be able to logically reason out on my own.

I've been reading a lot about Ann Lee lately. I've been thinking about her strengths, her leadership despite her obvious difficulties: illiterate, anorexic, post-partum depression*, traumatic grief*(*my personal read on her mental state). Then last night, I heard her voice. It wasn't in my head, but my brain told me that singer in a video I've been watching a lot lately is a later-day Ann Lee. Would Grimes look and sound and be what Ann Lee would be if she showed up now instead of 350+ years earlier? Reason says, probably not, but I like that my brain says, absolutely.

6 September 2013

research notes: Ann Lee

"Riots in the mid-eighteenth century tended to be about the price of food, and were often started by women."

from Ann the Word: The Story of Ann Lee, Female Messiah, Mother of the Shakers, The Woman Clothed with the Sun by Richard Francis

5 September 2013

research notes: Ann Lee

"The fact that Ann's experience in this respect was normal for her time and class doesn't mean that she herself enjoyed it or approved of it. When she was in her forties, and far away in America, she had occasion to give advice to a poor woman called Beulah Rude, who had five children, hardly an unusual number at the time. `Five! Five!' Ann exclaimed. `When you had one, why did you not wait and see if you were able to bring up that as you ought before you had another? And when you had two, why did you not stop then? But now you have five! Are you not ashamed to live in the filthy works of the flesh? You must go and take up your cross, and put your hands to work, and be faithful in your business; clothe your children, and keep them clean and decent; and clean up your house and keep that in order.' One can picture the poor woman's dismay or even rage at being on the receiving end of such a tirade, particularly since the advice was coming a bit late in the day."

from Ann the Word: The Story of Ann Lee, Female Messiah, Mother of the Shakers, The Woman Clothed with the Sun by Richard Francis

2 September 2013

morning rain

The last morning of summer vacations and I woke to rain. Hobbled upstairs to close the skylight in the boys' bathroom and couldn't get back to sleep.

I may as well fess up--I'm feeling fairly anxious about these next few months. A lot of changes in my family's lives, many of which are thanks to me. My eldest starts grade two tomorrow, my middle starts Kindergarten on Friday. I'm teaching my first full real class at a university on Wednesday, and consequently, my youngest has full-day childcare three days a week, something my other two never had.

I had a teaching anxiety dream the other night which remembering seems ridiculous. My classroom was a field that had been hayed. I couldn't get my computer to show the powerpoint presentation I created, and the class was spread out--it was a huge field after all. I had to shout and no one listened and most of the the students were the characters from Freaks & Geeks. Looking back, it's so silly, but it was anxiety ridden regardless.

I have a huge list of thing that need to be done today, but I'm hoping the house stays quiet for a long time so I can't start on them for a while. I can hear my eldest reading upstairs. He loves Roald Dahl and devours them at an incredible rate. I never read Dahl as a child and only just read my first Dahl, The Fantastic Mr. Fox this past week to the boys. It really was fantastic.

I feel this is turning into a ramble, so I'll stop.

29 August 2013

I think I'm going to like it here

With our childcare finally figured out (knock on wood, DID YOU HEAR THAT UNIVERSE? I'm KNOCKING!), I've been able to be up at the CSRS two mornings this week. I've attended Coffee Talk and have been working on my course. (A little hiccup when it was pointed out that the week I thought was Reading Break was in fact a whole month before when it actually is, meant a lot of swearing and then some quick fixing. All will be good.)

Today's Coffee Talk was complete freeform. There were eight of us around the table and while the chat started out with one of the Fellows* describing a bit of the work he's doing regarding pre-Christian Celtic religion and Celtic Christianity (truly interesting work), the conversation veered into a discussion including, but not limited to: Westerns (as in the literary genre), Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, eco-neo-paganism, the Holocaust, genocide, Cormac McCarthy, representations of the "settler" mythology, First Nations history, Scottish history, the responsibility of an author when writing about history, and Deadwood.

It was a great discussion and I'm so excited that I get to be a part of this community. Such a smart, interesting group of people.

*At first I thought people were using "fellow" as a charming way of saying "man" or "person", but I've now learned it's an academic term. I still think it's charming.

21 August 2013

great fiction

Last night I went to a reading at Russell Books. New to me, though I've heard/read her name everywhere since moving to Victoria, Yasuko Thanh read from her much lauded book Floating Like the Dead, my dear friend Lee Henderson read from his incredible The Man Game, and in the category of "friend who I feel like I know thanks to social media, but am only meeting in person for the first time now", Amanda Leduc who read from her book that I'm itching to start reading The Miracles of Ordinary Men.

I got to be read great fiction, chat with people I've been wanting to talk with for a while, and be out at night. My only regret, that I hadn't remembered the reading until 7pm. If I had remembered earlier I would have been able to look a little nicer for the event, but the flash of it meant a flurry of trying to get the family loaded in the car so that I could be dropped off at the bookstore. (I can't drive thanks to my knee and transit would have meant too much walking/not enough time.) It was madness, but I don't think anyone minded my dishevelled state. Or if they did, they were too polite to let on.

20 August 2013

a beginning

Today was my first full day at the CSRS, the first day that I felt in my position as Artist-in-Residence (AiR). I had hoped to have started the day with a little blogging but with my bum knee (long story short: camping, slipping, pain, swelling, ripped ligaments, knee brace, hobbling) I was slow in unpacking books, setting up my space. Just as I was to open to blogger, I heard the sweet bell that rings the community to Coffee Talk, an hour long discussion period for members of the community (and this could mean you, too, all are welcome) to come together for an hour every day. Sometimes the discussions are open, sometimes they are about a set subject, and other times, like today, they centre around visiting guests or a specific presentation.

I found my first Coffee Talk interesting. Patricia Vickers and Glyn Ramkeesoon introduced us to their methodology in working with people overcoming trauma, specifically the work they do in BC's Indigenous communities. (You can see their site here. Conversation was rich and I had many questions, but unfortunately I missed the opportunity to ask any, as I had to duck out a few minutes before the end as I was meeting a student to chat about the upcoming course I'm teaching. Yes, you read that right, I'm teaching a class at UVic this fall--Advanced Forms and Techniques in Poetry. I'm very excited and have been prepping this course pretty much the second after it was confirmed that I'd be teaching it. It's a big class in scope and size. I haven't decided whether or not I'll be blogging about the class at all or not. I guess we'll see.

My first full day as AiR felt too short. Six hours was not enough to do all I wanted to do, but oh what a gift it was to have the time and space to get things done. I can't tell you how excited I am to be part of the community at the CSRS and to start creating there.

18 June 2013

upcoming readings

I'll be reading this Wednesday, June 20 with Jane Silcott and Mari-Lou Rowley at Russell Books in Victoria, 7pm (details here)and will have my official Vancouver launch on Saturday, June 22, at The Railway Club in Vancouver at 6:30 pm with Jane Silcott, Mari-Lou Rowley and Teresa McWhirter (details here).

13 June 2013

They wanted so much, our mothers.

"They wanted so much, our mothers. I think about it sometimes. I don't know how they did it. They wanted their lives back but still felt responsible for ours.

I miss having her to talk to, there's so much I'd ask. She was a secretary in a private school and I think of the paperwork and the staples, the dry air and the paycheque and the feel of a day's work behind her and how much she must have wanted it. I don't think my father liked it. But men get as much without judgement. Or so it seems when you're not a man, and you watch them pass freely from the breakfast table to their cars in the morning. It look so easy. Of course it's not, it's not easy for anyone. But it's harder for a woman, the costs are physical. Men don't feel the pain of possibilities in the same way, the permanence of choice. At the end of her life, bed-bound by illness, my mother said to me, Don't let anyone tell you you can have everything. You can't. A woman has to choose."

from Into That Darkness by Steven Price

27 May 2013

this ridiculous and unworthy measure of literary value

"I believe that when W.G. Sebald makes reference to a historical event of which we are ignorant, we readers know that the lack is ours. But that is not true when we approach writers who engage with Lebanon, Sri Lanka, China or even our own First Nations history. Those writers are expected to be the explainers, interpreters, educators, spokespeople. Their literature is partly judged by their ability to balance all these roles: their literary success depends on the success of “our” education. Isn’t it time to laugh, uproariously, at this ridiculous and unworthy measure of literary value?

The world is large. As readers, let us grow into it."

from Madeleine Thien's essay in the Globe and Mail about Ma Jian's The Dark Road.

20 May 2013

a room of my own

I've been interested in faith, spirituality, and religion for a very long time. Over the last few days, I've been trying to figure out when that interest started. At first, I thought it was way back in grade seven when I wrote an in depth essay on creation myths from around the world. It was extensive and I found the research fascinating. I loved it and I think that might have been the start of my love for research (thank you, Mr. Westie!).

But I think my interest in faith may have been earlier. In elementary school, my bestie was the daughter of a Lutheran Pastor and I occasionally went to their church and Vacation Bible School. Their worship was slightly different from my Anglican upbringing, and it was enough to make me start noticing differences and questioning why those differences exist.

Unlike most Anglicans, I wasn't baptized as a baby, but when I was around ten years old, my peers were starting their first communion lessons. I wanted to join in, and I will admit part of wanting to do this was so that I could sip wine every Sunday. I had to be baptized to do my First Communion, so they let me take the lessons and I think, if I remember correctly, that I was baptized and had my First Communion on the same day. At the same time, many of my peers were also on the track towards Confirmation. I knew that wasn't something I wanted to do, and not because there wasn't any food or wine related perks to it. Even then I understood that being confirmed to a church was the same as marrying the church, and I knew I was not ready for that kind of commitment.

Over the years, I've researched many churches and faiths. It is now less a search for the right fit for me (though, there are times that it is), but rather it has become more an study of faith and spirituality. I'm very curious about what people believe in and why. What the commonalities are, what is wildly different. I'm especially drawn to fringe sects and the more unconventional beliefs.

Even before starting on Glossolalia, I had been reading about Mormonism and other religions that started or flourished in the 1800s America. I'm especially interested in the role of women in these new sects. After six years of researching and writing about early Mormon polygamy, one would think I'd be ready to move on to something else, but I've found myself returning to that time and place. At first I was frustrated with myself. I don't want to pigeon-hole myself as a writer. I owe it to my craft to push myself in form and content. Plus, I thought, if I was going to do all that research again, I should get something for it, like a degree.

For about a month, I was actively looking into doing a graduate degree in Religious Studies. I even knew what the title of my thesis would be, but ultimately I decided against it, for now anyway.

About a month ago, I learned about the Artist-in-Residence fellowship UVic's Centre for Studies in Religion and Society. I applied with a project that I had been thinking about since working on Initiation Trilogy and whose subject matter I've been interested in for a very long time, over a decade. I hadn't talked about it with anyone, even my husband, until putting together the application. It was an idea that needed to ferment for a while.

I'm thrilled to announce that the good folks at CSRS thought it was a good idea, too, and I have been made the 2013/2014 CSRS Artist-in-Residence. I'll have an office in their Centre from September 2013-August 2014 and I hope to be there at least three days a week. I'll be researching, writing, and, this is really the best bit, I'll be part of their community, where a cross-pollination of ideas and disciplines is paramount. To say I'm excited is an understatement.

17 May 2013

Russell's Vintage launch

On Tuesday night, I had one of the most delightful literary experiences to date, and not only because of the cake pictured above. (Yes, that's a cake! It was huge and delicious.)

As a writer, I hope to launch many of my books over my life, but to launch a bookshop, especially in today's environment, feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The much loved Russell Books in Victoria just opened their newest store exclusively featuring rare and antique books and it's so beautiful.

The evening itself was fun. There were tonnes of giveaways, cake, wine, and I had the honour to share the stage with Esi Edugyan and Steven Price. I have to say, that they are both so kind, gracious, and charming, sitting with them I forgot what superstars they were until they had their turns to read. They're fantastic writers and readers, which made the evening even more special.

The crowd itself was huge. One person counted ninety-eight (98!!) people and they were attentive and generous. Vanessa Herman will be hosting a reading series in that space every second Tuesday of the month. I'm guessing it won't always get the numbers we got that night, but if the audience is similar, it's going to be a stellar series.

One woman in the audience not only bought my book (always a treat!) she has already read it and reviewed it in two(!) places: her blog and on YouTube. I'm incredibly grateful and a little bit stunned by her generosity.

I walked away with a gorgeous antique book, signed books by Esi and Steven, cake, flowers, and lots of Russell's swag: bag, t-shirt, pen, and mug. But the best part was the warm joy that came from that evening. What a community, what a store. I feel so lucky to have been a part of it.

(The photo above was lifted from Russell's FB page. I'm not sure who took it, but my guess it was Will Johnson. You can see more photos from the night at Will Johnson's blog which you should explore a bit, he's got some great interviews there.)

9 May 2013


I'd done a couple readings from Glossolalia in March and April, but my first official launch was at the end of April with Dede Crane and Jay Ruzesky. I may be a little biased, but it was a great event. Bill Gaston was the host and he's absolutely charming. Dede and Jay were both engaging and entertaining readers and made me elbow my way to the front of the bookseller's line to buy their books. (Confession: I didn't really elbow my way to the front, but I wanted to.)

The room was packed and I had a few good friends in the audience. The biggest treat for me was that my husband was there (and he took some pictures from an unforgiving angle (we chose a poor place to sit), but I have pictures at least). He hadn't seen me read since 2007 and he was such a important part of the writing of Glossolalia. I'm so glad we could celebrate together.

I have one more reading in Victoria in the near future, which I'm very excited about. The much loved Russell Books is opening a new venue space that will house their vintage and collectable, and I'll be reading with literary superstars Esi Edugyan and Steven Price to launch it. I feel incredibly honoured to be part of this event, and not only because there is promise of cake.

8 May 2013

Giveaway winner!

Micheal Laverty, you have won a copy of Glossolalia!

Thanks to those who entered and helped spread the work.

3 May 2013

What She Said: Claire Messud

'“Of course, you wrote that for the money,” even a few good friends told Messud, assuming she’d finally taken Hitchens’s advice (or maybe followed her husband’s haute-populist prescriptions). In fact, she says, those short chapters and quippy sentences were all she could manage between feedings of her infants. “I had a memory span about as long as the lines in a school play,” she says. “It was like a book by somebody else. The idea that there was any plan or strategy—” Well, she did try something new. “I had never been very interested in plot,” she says. “I felt I should practice drawing hands.” But gone were the days when she went over her sentences so many times that she memorized them. “It’s actually a good thing not to be able to recite every last line,” she says. “Lighten up a little!”'

Claire Messud on the writing of The Emperor's Children in an interview with Boris Kachka in http://www.vulture.com/2013/04/claire-messud-and-james-wood-on-the-woman-upstairs.html

27 April 2013

Fernwood Inn

It's been busy these last few weeks, with readings in both Vancouver and Victoria. I should tell you more, but time is running out and what I really want to tell you about is my reading tomorrow afternoon in Victoria. I'll be reading at the Fernwood Inn at 4pm on Sunday, April 28. I'm very excited about this as I'll be reading with Dede Crane who is launching Every Happy Family and Jay Ruzesky who is launching In Antarctica: An Amundsen Pilgrimage.

I've been looking forward to sharing the stage with these two ever since I was invited to come along (lucky me!), but I'll be honest that I'm also thrilled about who my date will be. My husband hasn't been able to see me read since 2009 when I was in Banff and his mother kindly came along for the week we were both there (I was in the Writers Studio and he was there for the Playwrights Colony), but tomorrow we have a baby sitter. It'll be like a real date, except, you know, shared with a few others. I'll take what I can get.

If you're in Victoria, please come by. I'd love to see you.

9 April 2013

prairie polygamy

Right now I'm reading Jenna Butler's seldom seen road. This is her third full-length collection, although I don't seem to have her second in my library just yet. I did chat with her two years ago about her poem "Inter-tribal" from her first collection.

Butler writes of the Prairie and she does it so beautifully. By beautiful, I don't mean in the sweeping-cinematographic-romantic way, but she uses language with such mastery and precision that I can't think of a better word than beauty, though I'm sure Butler would as she's so meticulous with her words. When I read "Wild Onions" I had to put the book aside and then reread it a few times because of this:

bulbs unearthed like molars
crepuscular canyon light


Later, in the section Lepidopterists, she writes of Crowfoot's wives. This, of course, piqued my interest. I had read somewhere that some of the Prairie First Nations people practiced polygamy, but I knew very little about it. From what I remember from the book, it was almost a throwaway line, with not enough detail to appease someone like me. After reading that section, I turned to google, as one does. According to the internet, Crowfoot had up to ten wives, though only three or four at a time. Unsurprisingly, there was not much information about his wives, with the most detail here. I'm not up to it (it really is time for me to leave writing about polygamy behind), but I hope someone out there does write their stories, real or imagined. I'm also curious to whether or not contemporary Blackfoot people consider polygamy as part of their culture, and if so, is reclaiming it part of the discussion. Oh, Alberta, your history is so full of polygamy.

4 April 2013

See my virility!

"I wore my fatigue with pride. At last I had earned the right to be grizzled unshaven dad picking up my caffe latte of a morning, my marsupial baby cradled in the sling, giving the wife a few minutes' rest. See my virility! I'd often envied these fellows at the local coffee shop, picking up a standing ovation along with their bag of almond croissants. Now it was my turn to share the glory, to feel the love."

from the brilliant Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins

2 April 2013

Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!

Why yes, it's April, which means it's National Poetry Month both in Canada and the USA. It's the time of year where bookish folk remember the often overlooked, sometimes derided, genre, pull up their literary socks, and give it the ole college try of celebrating, and perhaps even reading, poetry. Thank goodness it's a short month.

It's also the time of year when poets try so very hard to have their work read by others. I'm as guilty as the rest, of course. There are so very many poets, and it's so hard to get even poets to read poetry at a consistent pace, let alone those wonderfully bookish people who devour novels like I do tea.

In celebration of Poetry Month, many literary blogs and sites are highlighting poetry in some way. Two places that have my attention are The Rusty Toque's collaborative poem and Literary Press Group 's "CoCoPoPro" aka Coast-to-Coast Poetry Project. And to be completely self-serving, you can see my contribution here.

If you want to go a bit deeper, my I suggest the always fantastic Jacket2 who recently posted North of Invention. I'm slowly going through each section. And I recently came upon Jennica Harper's The Sally Draper Poems. I was lucky to read early drafts of these, and am so happy to see them together like this.

So tell me, how are you celebrating National Poetry Month?

p.s. My giveaway for Glossolalia wraps up at the end of the month. So far only one person has entered the one on my blog. (Should I be embarrassed by this? I'm trying not be as the GoodReads number is higher than I expected. ) Follow this link and comment for your chance to receive a copy of your own. Your odds are good!

1 April 2013

dear weekend, please don't ever end

This weekend has been busy, filled with the best kind of busy, celebrations and milestones, punctuated with warm weather and cherry blossoms. My eldest turned seven on Thursday and that night we had a family birthday celebration, with the next day his friend party with six friends from school. The next day was my sister's wedding, and the next was Easter and my youngest's first egg hunt. My middle child discovered his first loose tooth on Thursday evening, too. I also made from scratch for the first time Angel Food cake, creme anglaise, and a pavlova. There was tide-pool exploring, kite-flying, and playground visiting crammed into this glorious weekend, too. Oh, and that radio interview happened, too.

Today, my husband wanted to listen to it and I found it for him then hid in the bathroom when I heard my voice. Eventually, I returned to the living room and listened to the rest of the interview with my family. I didn't come across as awkward as I had felt, my nervous laughter wasn't grating, and my tick of starting every sentence with "Umm..." wasn't nearly as pronounced as I had feared.

If you're curious, you can listen here. There is a long musical interlude at the start, so if you want to get right to it, skip to the 2:00 mark.

27 March 2013

lesson from the universe

The universe was telling me something on Sunday, and I'm still not sure what the message was.

As I had mentioned, I was to be interviewed on Speaking of Poets. I had a fair bit of juggling to do to make it happen. My middle child was to be at a birthday party from 12-2, my interview was from 1:30-2. I had to do the interview at my husband's office because he has a landline that isn't a portable which was requested by the interviewer. My husband was doing auditions all day at the university for a show he'll be directing there next year, but luckily, had lunch from 12:45-2:15. The plan was I was going to drop A2 off at the party, hang out with the other two for a bit, then bring them to the uni for 1:00. Kevin was going to set me up in his office then take the kids to get lunch and then pick up A2 a little bit early from the party.

I had stayed up late the night before hand sewing (because I'm terrified of my sewing machine) a superhero cape for the themed party and tried not to get too nervous about the interview. Sunday morning, I made the kids blueberry pancakes (the last of last season's frozen berries--so sad!), got everyone dressed, and then pulled out the invitation to check the address.

My stomach dropped. The party was the day before. I ran upstairs, apologetic to my son. He told me that I had to call his friend's mom and I told him I would. I expected tears, but he shrugged it off. His only concern was making sure his friend received his present.

I called the mom, and she was very gracious. She invited my son over to have a second party. Everyone was happy.

I brought the other kids up to the university, got set up, warmed up my voice and waited anxiously for the phone to ring. After 'hello' the first thing he said was 'I owe you an apology.' Turns out he had a mixup of his own. At first I thought he was going to say that he decided he didn't want to interview me at all, but luckily we just needed to reschedule. (This Sunday, if you want to listen as it airs.)

There's definitely a lesson there to be learned--flexibility, forgiveness, graciousness? I'm not sure. But I am thankful that it all worked out, or will eventually work out.

22 March 2013

out in the world

Way back in 2007 when my first book All Things Said & Done was launched into the world, publishing and the internet were very different than their current state. I know it's only six years, but that's a lifetime in the digital world. Sure there were blogs, but not like now. Twitter didn't exist and FB was not the behemoth it has become. And with space for discussion about books shrivelling up in traditional print media, I believe lit-blogs have now mostly taken their place of influence and power. That said, I wish places like the Globe and Mail would review more poetry. Sure, I'd love mine to be mentioned on their pages, but I'd really like to read about other poets and poetry where my fellow citizens--poetry lovers or not--could do the same.

What has been alarming to me is how quickly a review can be published online. I know this shouldn't be a surprise as it's what the internet does best (next to cute animals and the other thing that I'm not going to write out because I don't want to attract those searches or bots) but it is, at least when it comes to my own book. There was the Book Riot mention even before the book was officially published, and now two more.

rob mclennan wrote "Dachsel manages to bring a life to the material, a fine and sparkling energy" amongst other things that you can read here.

Nina Berkhout at Canadian Poetries wrote "Avoiding sentimentality Dachsel gives us a haunting collection that illuminates lives that were behind-the-scenes until now. This book is a jewel-like union of unique voices. Together they create a stunning stained glass piece soldered together into a choir of glass and light." Isn't that beautiful? You can read the whole review here.

I know the point of having a book is for people to read it, but it still surprises me when they do. Saleema Nawaz wrote yesterday on her blog metaphysical conceit "Any time I meet somebody I don't already know who has read my short-story collection, it feels like nothing short of a miracle. And I'm grateful." Miracle, indeed.

I know at least one other person I have not yet met has read my book, as I'm scheduled to chat with him this weekend about it. I'll be speaking with John Herbert Cunningham on his program Speaking of Poets this Sunday. It airs on CKUW 4:30 Winnipeg time (Central Time Zone). If you aren't in Winnipeg, you can listen online live, or download it as a podcast for later. Once it's aired, I'll post a link.

I'm so incredibly thankful for those who have taken the time so far to pick up the book, read it, think about it, and want to discuss it in some way. It's exciting and terrifying.

20 March 2013


Who doesn't love a giveaway? Fools, I tell you!

Quite quietly a couple weeks ago I started a giveaway for Glossolalia over at GoodReads. My publisher, Anvil, generously has offered three copies of the book to be given away. I believe this is the first time they've done a giveaway through GoodReads, so my wives are the Guinea pigs. I haven't mentioned the giveaway on social media yet and there are already 105 people entered to win. This is crazy to me. (I hope they realize it's poetry....)

Are you on GoodReads? If so, please be my friend. I love looking through other people's bookshelves and comparing them. I've added many books to my queue this way.

Are you not on GoodReads, but still want a chance to win a copy of Glossolalia? Comment on this post with a way for me to reach you (a link to your blog, you email address, your twitter handle, anything!) and tell me the last great book you've read and I'll put your name in the hat.

Both giveaways end on April 30. You can enter both, too, if you'd like to increase your chances. No extra ballots if you tweet or FB this, but I wouldn't dissuade you from doing so either.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Glossolalia by Marita Dachsel


by Marita Dachsel

Giveaway ends April 30, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

17 March 2013

on fear of confrontation

On Thursday night, I had my first official reading from Glossolalia. I read in Vernon with Hannah Calder (who didn't have any books to sell as her publisher didn't get them to her on time. I was so disappointed as her reading was fantastic and I'm very intrigued by More House) and the always excellent Laisha Rosnau was our host.

I've read from the collection before, but as I mentioned previously this was the first time I'd read from the actual book. At first I wasn't nervous. I'd had a glass of wine and we decided that Hannah should go first as she had a friend in the audience who had to take off early in the night. I'd chosen five poems to read and I had read them all before and knew I could do them well. I felt confident and happy.

Then I stepped behind the podium and began to read.

There were a few friendly faces in the audience--Laisha, her husband Aaron, Hannah, and Lainna (a friend from my Edmonton days who has now relocated to Kelowna)--and most of the people I didn't know were attentive and generous.

But there were two men in the audience who stood out to me. The first man was an older gentleman who, I was later told, came right into the space, asked for my book, bought it, and then sat in the corner waiting for the reading to begin. He was attentive, even closed his eyes as I read. He disappeared as soon as the reading was done and I wish I had the gumption to approach him before he left. He seemed connected to the poetry and I had assumed he was a regular attendee at this reading series, but no one had seen him before.

The second man who stood out was younger, possibly early thirties. He seemed, well, intense. I also wish I had been brave enough to approach him afterwards, but he made me nervous. While I was reading, I kept looking at him as he stared at me, and it split my focus, made me wonder if this man was Mormon or polygamous, or perhaps even both. The latter two are unlikely, but the LDS have a large population in both BC and Alberta.

I know eventually it's going to happen, most likely at a reading. My fear is that I will offend people of this faith despite taking much care not to in the writing of the book. Although I've taken the lives of the polygamous wives of Joseph Smith as inspiration for this book, it's not meant to be read as biography or history. It's fiction. It's poetry. It's much more about my own experiences/insecurities/fears about motherhood and marriage than it is about Mormonism.

After the reading, there was a Q&A and I was certain that the man was going to stand up and accuse me of appropriation or blasphemy or...something. I'm not completely sure. And then there was a very tiny part of me that worried he was some sort of fundamental fringe Mormon who believed in and was planning on practising blood atonement. But the man was silent and he also left soon after the reading ended.

When I arrived home from our trip into the interior, there was a large envelope in our mailbox. The return address was from Utah. Kevin handed it to me and said, "And so it begins." My heart leaped to my throat before I remembered that I had ordered this from the brilliant Trent Nelson.

I'm dreading the first confrontation, but part of me hopes it happens sooner rather than later, just so that I can deal with it, learn from it, and move on. Am I being pessimistic? Or even egotistical? It's poetry for goodness sake, does it even show up on the radar? Ultimately, I hope that Glossolalia will find readers, and in that crowd (oh, please let it be a crowd and not just a handful), there will be people who are connected to the Mormon faith. Will I ever even know? I hope so, but time will tell.

12 March 2013

on juries

When I lived in Edmonton, I had the privilege of sitting on two granting juries. They were for different organizations, had different scopes, and were very different experiences--one was pleasurable and one was, let's just say, much less so. I learned a lot about the granting process and I really believe that every professional writer should sit on a jury of some sort during their career. It opened my eyes to how they work (and how they don't), how difficult the process can be, and what makes a strong application.

I was reminded of these experiences today as my FB and Twitter feed were full of writers bemoaning not getting a grant yet again along with links to Madeleine Thien's fantastic piece in the National Post On Transparency. In it, she calls for a greater transparency with prize juries, but I believe that the case can be made for granting juries, too.

Thien writes: For the Giller Prize, it’s a carefully guarded secret as to which books are even being considered. That has got to be the dumbest secret ever conceived. The jurors, celebrated as leading practitioners of their art, are apparently so fragile we can’t even know what they read, let alone how they measured (or, perhaps, didn’t). And now, apparently, it is acceptable to shortlist five books without having read a single one.

Transparency, they say, would hurt the writers’ feelings. Clearly, these people are not writers. Writers have their feelings hurt everyday.

A big, empty, silent nothing sits at the centre of our literary discourse. A lot of people might say it doesn’t matter. Five books are being recognized, a worthy book will be chosen, a few people will make some money. What difference does it make? Nobody cares about you. I think it matters. I want to be able to look all my fellow writers in the eye. I didn’t choose a life in writing in order to contribute to a fictional conversation. I truly believe that the best way to support emerging and groundbreaking work is to engage with the work, to be transparent, honest and willing to take criticism for my decisions. I don’t want to be ashamed to say that reading books does, in fact, matter. To say that the books that surprise us and haunt us do, in fact, change us.

I'm not allowed to talk about what happened in my juries, so I can't go into specifics, but in the jury that worked well, there was a lot of discussion and we took our jobs very seriously. We were passionate, thoughtful, and determined. I was heartbroken when there simply was not enough money to give to all the projects we wanted to support, but I was proud of our list. And on that list was a project I didn't understand. To be honest, I thought it sounded terrible, but the other two jurors were so committed and supportive of the idea, I conceded. They saw something I could not, and I am glad it was supported. The days we spent on the applications were tiring and inspiring at the same time.

Was it biased? Of course it was. Everyone has their biases and our group of jurors created their own. Would a different jury given the same applications have arrived at the same results? Maybe, but probably not. Their fifteenth rank may have been our nineteenth. Who knows?

Unless the systems change, the writers who are currently learning of the fate of their grants will never know exactly why they didn't get one (or did). The only advice I can give is to spend a day feeling sorry for yourself (get that microbrew, open that bottle of wine, buy that fancy chocolate, whatever makes you happy), then dust yourself off, ask for feedback, and write a stronger grant next time. We've been rejected hundreds of times and we'll be rejected hundreds more. And if you're up for it, contact a granting agency and let them know you'd be interested in sitting on a jury. Seriously. But in the meantime, treat yo' self:

8 March 2013

upcoming readings

While I've been doing readings from the Glossolalia manuscript since working on it way back in 2009 when I was part of the Writers Studio in Banff and red nettle press published my chapbook Eliza Roxcy Snow, I'm terribly excited to be reading from the actual book of Glossolalia soon.

Details of the official launch are still be worked out, but in the meantime, if you are so inclined, you can hear me reading with some other fantastic writers in Vernon, Vancouver, and Victoria soon.

Vernon - Thursday, March 14, 7:30PM
Vertigo Voices with Hannah Calder
Gallery Vertigo
3001 - 31st Street

Vancouver - Thursday, April 18, 7:30PM
Reading with Brad Cran, Susan Gillis, Rob Taylor
People's Co-op Bookstore
1391 Commercial Drive

Victoria - Friday, April 19, 7:30PM
Reading with Susan Gillis and Rob Taylor
Planet Earth Poetry
The Moka House
#103-1633 Hillside Avenue

If you come to any of these, please say hello!

6 March 2013

inspire and influence

When the always lovely Kerry Clare asked me to come up with a list of poetry books by Canadian women in honour of International Women's Day for 49th Shelf, I was thrilled. I love poetry by Canadian women! So I went to my shelf and pulled off about twenty titles, started to leaf through them and began to panic.

I panicked because I knew I wasn't allowed to have a list that long and I had to find a way to bring the number down to a manageable eight to ten.

I panicked because I had many books written by friends in that stack, knew I couldn't include them all, and worried over hurt feelings.

I panicked because I saw all the other poetry books on my shelf that I hadn't read yet.

I panicked because I thought of all the other poetry books that I don't even own that I haven't read yet, though I know I should.

I panicked because I thought I'm not nearly well-read enough to come up with a list that holds any authority.

And then I told myself to shut up, buck up, and get it done.

So instead of coming up with a list of poetry books by Canadian women that I proclaim to be the best or most important or about ________ (insert subject here), I decided to come up with a list of books that I keep returning to. I reread most of them again while writing the list (though not Elizabeth Bachinsky's God of Missed Connections--my copy went missing during the rehearsals for Initiation Trilogy. I need to get a new copy!) and while I was going through them, there were a few times when I would freeze on a poem. I could see how specific poems influenced Glossolalia and newer unpublished work.

I'll tell you a secret, dear reader. I'm a little nervous that these poets will pick up my book, read the poem(s) that their work influenced, be outraged, and call me a thief. I believe the connections are subtle and they were definitely unintentional, just great poetry doing what it often does: inspire and influence.

Not every collection has a clear line to a specific poem and I am curious to whether others will see the influence or not. I'm not going to be any clearer than this as I'm already feeling a little vulnerable mentioning it in this somewhat public space.

If you are so inclined, go read the list here and then come back and tell me which books by Canadian women you keep returning to.

3 March 2013

a very direct correlation between reading and the development of empathy

"It seems to be that there is a very direct correlation between reading and the development of empathy. So while as parents we could view reading as akin to learning piano or being able to perform algebraic equations, it is also key to helping our children develop one of the most important attributes. My boys are beautiful, bright, and gifted but I don’t feel I can really claim to be proud of that fact because as I see it they pretty much arrived on this planet that way. But they are also both profoundly empathetic boys — they are kind and thoughtful human beings — and I think this is partly because reading has enabled them to see the world from the perspective of others. And I am inordinately, absurdly, and shamelessly proud about that."

Sara O'Leary in her guest post Books, Boys, and a Present For You over at my new favourite blog Blog of Green Gables.

28 February 2013

my wives have arrived

It is time for my wives to go into the world. I worked on this collection, writing and researching, for six years. During that time I moved three times to two different provinces and had three babies. So no, I wasn't working on this collection full-time, but the women have been with me all the time. They have haunted me.

Glossolalia is now available for purchase. You can buy it directly from my publisher Anvil Press here or request it at your local, independent bookshop.

I've started lining up some readings in March and April (more details on that soon) and will be popping up at some of my favourite lit blogs over the next few months, too. You'll see me at 49th Shelf, The Storialist, Jane Day Reader, and The Rusty Toque. If you'd like to add your site to the list, please email me (mdachsel [at] gmail [dot] com). I've also got a giveaway up my sleeve, too. Details on that when it's finalized.

I am so very excited about sending my wives into the world. I love these women, these poems. I hope they find loving homes.

27 February 2013

inoculation against the difficult, liminal world

"It seems to me now that part of the compelling power of Sweet Valley High’s vision of identical twins lay not in the obvious assignation between our split selves (id and ego), but instead, in the ways in which writing itself—real writing, difficult, strenuous, hard-won, “under your own name” writing—always stands in an uneasy relationship to its enchanting, seductive, rule-bending twin. The one who always seems to win, to get away with it—as if, in the end, only a toss of a golden head or the sparkle of an aquamarine eye can carry the day. The theorist George Lukacs called the “entertainment novel” the “caricature” or bad twin of serious fiction, and in a sense, for me at least, that was both the allure and the potential hazard of ghostwriting mass-market books. I wanted, as long as I thought I could risk it, to stay in the pastel, exclamatory world of the light and the popular, the world of fast cars and faster verbs, the world where difference was traded for sameness and the blondes triumphed and the eyes sparkled and the parents stayed married and the brother stayed away “at college” and the paralysis was curable and anything and everything could be resolved by the final chapter. I wanted the machine of narrative to work the way popular literature has it work: difference going in one side, and out the other side coming the reassurance of sameness. The same people, the same formula. You can do this, the books hummed to me as I wrote them. You can do this, they hummed to the girls who read them. They promised a way of being. A kind of inoculation against the difficult, liminal world of the real. A world we sometimes know only in relation to the fantasies that counter it. The pastels that turn it gray, rendering it more ghostly than we would like. Or sometimes bear."

From The Ghost Writes Back by Amy Boesky, an excellent read about her experience ghost writing fifty of the Sweet Valley High books. (Oh how I devoured those books!)

19 February 2013

immaculate possibility

"she's never liked twilight, you know,
when it comes, it only confirms
we've failed at everything
it only arrives to insist
what a waste,
it says, I at least end things, I
understand perfection, deep
at its source it isn't power,
nothing so small, so edible
there, it is immaculate possibility"

from Dionne Brand's brilliant Inventory

11 February 2013

deliciously squirmy way

Glossolalia won't be officially released until March, but I recently saw that the fine folks over at Book Riot wrote some great things about it in a review that includes the excellent books Titanic by Billeh Nickerson and Salvage by Michael Crummey. Good company, no?

Brenna Clarke Gray aka dr b starts the review with, "Okay, you know when good art makes you uncomfortable in that deliciously squirmy way?" and ends it saying, "Dachsel’s mastery over multiple voices really elevates this collection to something special." You can read everything in between here.

(Many thanks to dr b and Book Riot for highlighting poetry!)

6 February 2013

Emma Hale Smith on Canadian Poetries

The lovely Shawna Lemay asked me to contribute something to her newish website Canadian Poetries. Time has been tight on my end and while I have promised her an essay piece for later, I was thrilled that she wanted to post some work from Glossolalia.

I chose what might have been the most difficult poem for me to write, Emma Hale Smith. It took me six years to get her poem right, and it's a treat to see it all together like this. In the book, the four sections are spread throughout. So please, head on over and read it, then explore the site some more. Shawna is curating a wonderful poetry-focused experience.

27 January 2013

Writers are a bit like Anna

"Armeda seemed to sense this resemblance herself, but, rather than chafing against it, as I would have done, she embraced it. Dolly, after all, loved children, and showed a Christian spirit of forgiveness; Kitty, meanwhile, gave Levin the practical ballast he required to pursue his iconoclastic dreams. These, she said, should be a woman's aims.

At sixteen, service to a man or one's children did not strike me as significant goals. I wanted to do something more. I wanted to write; I was learning that then, from my passion for books we were reading. Of course, I had no idea what this meant. In real life, I'd never met a writer. I knew only what the culture taught me: Writers aren't conventional. Writers are exciting and special. Writers are a bit like Anna.

In the years since, I've come to recognize that 'exciting' doesn't always mean 'good.' Sometimes it just means 'self-absorbed.' Once, I had dreamed of becoming Anna; now I feared I really had. On the evidence of those journals, I stood convicted."

from "In Anna Karenina Furs" by Susan Olding in the Winter 2012 issue of Maisonneuve

24 January 2013

Mad Hope

I finished reading Heather Birrell's Mad Hope earlier this week and loved it. As I was reading it, I'd come across passages and think, oh, that'd be a good one to excerpt and then I'd continue on without making note of these. The truth is, there are too many good parts to excerpt, that I'm doing what I rarely do on this blog and write about the book itself.

Mad Hope was a slow burn for me. I don't know if it's because life got in the way of finishing the opening story in a timely matter and therefore coloured those first stories, or it's because the later stories sung to me in a way that those first few didn't, but I am so glad that I kept reading.

In October, I saw Heather Birrell read at the Vancouver International Writers Fest. I was there to see my friend John Vigna, but was pleasantly surprised to hear her read. When I reached the section that she read from, I was excited. Despite the many praises her book has rightly acquired, it was hearing her read that made me want to buy the book. She's a fine, wry reader. A true pleasure. At the reading, I didn't realize how complex that section was in the book and I loved it even more reading it. It did make wish she had a novel I could read next, though.

When I read "No One Else Really Wants to Listen" I had to put the book down beside me every page or so. I didn't want to walk away from it, I needed to read it in one sitting, but I also knew I needed to savour it. That I was only going to have the experience of reading it first the one time and I wanted to enjoy it, take it in as much as possible. I don't do that often with fiction. This story was a discovery, a beautifully uncomfortable mirror held to my life. I know I'm going to carry some of those characters with me for a long, long time.

There is so much in Mad Hope that is great, how deftly Birrell navigates relationships--the comfortable and uncomfortable; the fleeting and the life-long; the ugly and the beautiful. I especially loved how she writes about children and parenthood. This may sound strange, but I feel like I trust her completely.

If you've read the book, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. If you want to read more about Birrell, I recommend this interview with Kerry Clare over at Pickle Me This.

23 January 2013

Never a MILF

Despite the increased silence in my house, I did have the radio on today just in time to listen to the Q conversation about the term MILF. I hate the term and unlike one of the bloggers being interviewed, I don't think it's one to be "embraced" or "taken back". It's a term about being attractive enough for a younger man to enjoy and then to be disposed. No thanks.

For me, the part that drives me the most crazy is when people say that thanks to MILF we now have a term that describes an older attractive woman. Really? How about just using the term "attractive"? Why does age or reproductive status have to play into it? We don't need qualifiers and we definitely don't need the filter of an adolescent boy sexual desires to define beauty, or worse, worthiness.

18 January 2013

What She Said: Anne Enright

"My children dictate my schedule--I have done vast amounts since they were born because they keep me from my desk and make me impatient to get back to it. I don't count words so much anymore, or note beginnings and endings. I work on several things at once, so there is always a file open and no such thing as a blank page. I like working. What discipline I have comes from the fact that I don't do any of the other things I am supposed to. Housework, personal administration--everything goes to hell. My husband cooks. We don't starve."

Anne Enright in The Secret Miracle: The Novelist's Handbook.

11 January 2013

a bit of silence

I'm a CBC gal. I love the institution. In our home, CBC Radio One is on from the moment I stumble to the kitchen until I hit a program that annoys me. There used to be some days that it wasn't turned off until they'd rebroadcast Q in the evening. But since moving to Victoria, I've found that it gets turned off earlier and earlier. I don't know why, but it rarely is on during lunch and never in the evenings.

When the Newtown tragedy happened, I turned off the radio and hid the newspaper. This was something I did not want to try to talk about with the kids, and I left if off until this week. I feel guilty saying this, but I liked the quiet. That said, I was disconnecting myself even more from the world, so I turned it on Tuesday morning. My older two were at school. And what was the first thing I heard? A conversation about researchers studying the DNA of the Newtown shooter. I almost turned it off straight away.

I've had the radio on for four days now, each morning it lasts a little bit longer, but I don't know. I feel like the CBC phase has passed for me. I know, I can't believe it either, really. Or maybe it's just a lull. It feels both strange and good. I guess we'll see where this goes.