Enveloped 5: New Leaves and Smiles at The Banff Centre, Alberta

There’s a huge tree just outside self’s window that was just a skeleton of twiggy branches. Until three days ago, when leaves started to appear. Now, just look at it:

Spring arrives in Banff!

Spring arrives in Banff!

There’s a Writing Studio reading every Wednesday night. Last night’s reading was held at Wild Flour Artisan Bakery in downtown Banff. Greg Hollingshead, Director of the Writing Studio, was one of the readers.

A little about Greg: His collection, The Roaring Girl, won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. His novel Bedlam was a Globe and Mail 100 Best Books of the Year and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice.

Greg Hollingshead, Director of the Banff Writing Studio, at Last Night's Reading in Wild Flour Artisan Bakery, Banff

Greg Hollingshead, Director of the Banff Writing Studio, at Last Night’s Reading in Wild Flour Artisan Bakery, Banff

It is truly amazing that everyone read so well, even though self calculated about a third of the readers, and probably half of the audience, were sick. Sick like self: stuffy nose, cough, no appetite, etc.

Self actually saw an in-house doctor at Lloyd Hall on Tuesday, who told self that she was suffering from a run-of-the-mill cold virus and didn’t need any prescription medication. The only good thing about having this cold is that everyone around her at the reading (including Greg Hollingshead) seemed to be suffering from the same thing. She could hear people trying to quell coughs all over the place. Dear blog readers, there is nothing worse than knowing you’re going to have to hawk a big one, something so explosive it will be heard all over the room, and despite your best efforts, it still comes. I kept chewing zinc lozenges but what can you do.

Freelance writer and editor Julia Phillips, who read excerpts from two of her short stories last night.

Freelance writer and editor Julia Phillips, who read excerpts from two of her short stories last night.

Anyhoo, the reading last night went on as planned. All the readers were fantastic. Julia Phillips (pictured above) has had work in the Crab Orchard Review (Woot Hoot! So has self!), Drunken Boat, The Rumpus, The Week, and The Moscow Times. She was a Pushcart Prize nominee and a finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers.

Self also began chatting with a woman sitting near her, who turned out to be author J. Jill Robinson. Here’s a link to a review of one of her books, More in Anger, in The Globe and Mail.

Canadian Fiction Writer J. Jill Robinson, at the Banff Writing Studio reading last night

Canadian Fiction Writer J. Jill Robinson, at the Banff Writing Studio reading last night

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Annoyed With Tessa Gray, A Disquisition on Teeth

Self is so annoyed with Tessa Gray.

Will Herondale comes into her room at night, wakes her from a nightmare, bends down to kiss her, and at the last minute she turns her head so that his kiss lands on her cheek.

##@@!!!!

Dear blog readers, self can’t, she can’t even.

Just for that, she’ll have to leave Clockwork Prince for a while and turn to Courtney Humphries and a fascinating disquisition on teeth (called, what else, Teeth) in the latest issue (Spring 2015) of Bluestem magazine.

Trigger Warning: Extremely Detailed Descriptions of a Dental Filling

My teeth have been jammed full of an embarrassing number of fillings . . .

(One moment: Fellow Writing Studio writer has just emerged from across the hall, and would you believe in 3 weeks self has never once had an adequate conversation with this person, whose name is Dan, who lives in Tijuana and has won a Canadian National Magazine Award for his writing about HIV-infection and the drug trade in Mexico. And she practically trips over her sneakers and has to call out at the top of her voice — he walks really fast! Self swears she heard him emerge just two seconds ago — WHERE IS THAT ARTICLE ON HIV-INFECTION IN TIJUANA CAN I READ IT. To be continued)

. . . over the years, and each one felt like a failure in my duty as a caretaker. Other body parts we can be lax about. Scraped knees heal, broken arms knit. Even a metabolism fallen into sloth can be rescued with exercise and good food. But teeth are monuments that we must painstakingly clean and protect, or lose them forever. My mother has had various crowns put in, and I fear that I will too someday, as she always warns me that our family has soft teeth. Just the phrase “soft teeth” is foreboding — it implies a fatal weakness in parts that are supposed to be strongest, a lack of genetic fitness that could doom me to a toothless fate.

Alas, this disquisition on teeth, too, has to end on somewhat of a cliff-y. Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Bentley Chamber Music Studio, Banff Centre, Last Night

Last night, during the Writing Studio readings in Bentley Hall, poet and novelist John Burnside quoted Shakespeare:

The world must be peopled.

The quote is from Much Ado About Nothing.

Self did a little internet exploration and found an article by John D. Cox in Shakespeare Quarterly (Volume 55.1, 2004) that lists Much Ado About Nothing as one of four “Comedies of Forgiveness,” the other three being Two Gentlemen of Verona, All’s Well That Ends Well, and Measure for Measure.

It was another stellar night. Bentley Hall was packed. Self wanted to link the “peopled” quote to this week’s WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge, FORCE OF NATURE. Stretching things a little bit, because self has just not been on that many hikes. Mostly, she’s been holed up in her room, writing.

Monday was switchover time: our mentors for the first two weeks of the Writing Studio went home, and new mentors came in. Burnside flew in from Berlin, late Sunday night.

Bentley Chamber Music Studio, Just Before Last Night's Writing Studio reading

Bentley Chamber Music Studio, Just Before Last Night’s Writing Studio Reading. Self reads on May 27.

Jeff Millar, Writing Studio Program Coordinator, at the Book Table at the Back of Bentley Chamber Music Studio,

Jeff Millar, Writing Studio Program Coordinator, at the Book Table at the Back of Bentley Chamber Music Studio.

One of the readers last night was Benjamin C. Dugdale, whose bio describes him as “oral storyteller, poet, and experimental filmmaker . . . He is interested in freckles, tea, silent film, and growing his hair out long.” Canadians have such dry humor. Honestly, it takes self at least five seconds before she realizes the person she is speaking to has actually made a joke. What? She’s thick, what else can she say?

She really liked Ben’s T-shirt:

Benjamin C. Dugdale After his Reading Last Night at the Bentley Chamber Music Studio

Benjamin C. Dugdale After his Reading Last Night at the Bentley Chamber Music Studio

Ben’s work is recently published or forthcoming in Free Fall, The Steel Chisel, Sulphur, and Numero Cinq.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence & Poem of the Day (Trigger Warning: Dark Subject Matter)

“He laughed like a serial killer, but that was my best friend for you.”

Self realizes this is rather an odd choice of sentence for Mother’s Day, but it’s gold. Pure gold. And it’s from fan fiction.

The poetry excerpt is by Kevin Flynn, from his poem “Thoughts on Easter While Digging a Grave,” (Aaaargh, why? Self realizes this title is almost as dark as the sentence above) from Bluestem‘s Spring 2015 issue:

Once there were so many buffalo rumbling
on the Great Plains, they darkened the landscape
like a storm, so many that trains full of men,
armed with carbines, would fly through the West
shooting the animals dead, stopping only long
enough to load up the skins, boxcar after boxcar
of bloody fun, leaving behind pyramids of skulls
at every station.

Fully loaded, lovely, oblivious
and muscular, three neighbor boys, with skull
plates thin as a dime, and the Southern sun settled
hissing in the bog behind their eyes, have tacked
sixteen new raccoon skins to their learning barn
wall this Spring. At 4 am, with cats afuzz in the
walls, they tree a young coon one hundred feet
from our bedroom window, and shake him out
to the dogs.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What Is Story?

Maple, 1989: A Painting in Lloyd Hall, The Banff Centre

Wendy Allen, “Maple, 1989″: Collage, Mixed Media, Lloyd Hall, The Banff Centre

A few thoughts self scribbled down after yesterday’s symposium/discussion between mentors and participants here in the Banff Writing Studio:

  • The end of a novel is not the end of a STORY.
  • The writer is not responsible for hope.
  • Sample story: Someone comes. They make someone miserable. And then they leave. (Or maybe they don’t leave. Thereby extending the misery? Wouldn’t it be so Deus ex machina for the cause of misery to just pick up and go?)

Self this afternoon finished reading the first story in the Bluestem Spring 2015 issue:  Meagan Cass’s “ActivAmerica.” Oh, it is a good one. Here are a few of the gorgeous sentences:

Out on the track, the cold settled over our bodies like wet cement.

*          *          *

“No weather exceptions for non-management,” the monitor told us, his face shining with Vaseline, heavy lines around his mouth, dark shadows under his eyes . . . “You’d have to check the binder . . . I think there’s a liability clause.” I didn’t want to know his story, what they were paying him and who was sick in his family and why he needed the money. I only wanted to kick him in the shins.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Matthew Park’s Illustration for “The Freeze”

Lately, self has been writing science fiction in the apocalyptic vein.

She wrote a story called “The Freeze” which imagined a woman as the only survivor of a drastic temperature drop, who decides to abandon her home city of San Francisco and head south. Along the way, she encounters a band of teen-agers; they all somehow find each other while stumbling around in the dark. She joins their group. Keeping the Pacific Ocean to their right, the group heads for Mexico (What? You expected them to come up with a better plan? They’re all starving, freezing, and in semi-shock. Sorry, this was the best anyone could come up with)

The story’s been published on Bluestem (Spring 2015) but here’s the illustration Matthew Park did for self.

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

TheFreezecover_concept02-3

Hossein M. Abkenar: “Classmates” (Witness, Trans/lation Issue, Spring 2015)

We were some forty or fifty students in a large class. After we graduated, we each went our own way. That same year, Javad decided not to continue with his education. Reza Karimi went to the front and was martyred. When they returned his body, a ceremony was held at the school. Afterward, a large crowd went to his memorial service at the mosque. When Ramin finished his military service, he started his own company. Supposedly, in the services industry. Rassouli became a pilot. His plane crashed during the war and he was captured.

— “Classmates” by Hossein M. Akbenar, translated from the Persian by Sara Kahlili (Witness, Spring 2015)

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue (Spring 2015)

Where is self? She is here, right here:

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue, Launched at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, April 2015

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue, Launched at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, April 2015

This issue of Witness features writing from around the world. And self is more than proud to be in the same issue as:

  • Dario Belleza (translated from the Italian by Peter Covino)
  • Arthur Rimbaud (translated from the French by Donald Revell)
  • Hossein M. Abkenar (translated from the Persian by Sara Khalili)
  • Christos Chartomatsidis (translated from the Bulgarian by Velina Minkoff, Rayna Rossenova, and Borislava Velkova)
  • Moniru Ravanipour (translated from the Persian by Shirindokht Nourmanesh and Moniru Ravanipour)
  • Karl Ove Knausgaard (translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett)
YAY! Self made it! She is here!

YAY! Self made it! She is here!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Sunday

This one’s from the March/ April 2015 issue of  Boston Review. They were handing free copies out at the Book Fair yesterday.

Building a Joke (an excerpt)

 by David Hernandez

In the season before trees begin
their ritual of swapping green for rust,
a DC-9 airliner and Cessna
collided over the city where I grew up.
This isn’t funny, but comedians will tell you
laughter is possible with any tragedy
if one waits long enough, time
and timing are key. It’s been 27 years
since I stood alone in the backyard
Read the rest of this entry »

Bluestem, Spring 2015

Yay, Bluestem! They launched the spring issue at AWP 2015!

Here is the lovely Poetry Editor, Charlotte Pence, holding up a copy of the issue.

Self’s story of climate change, “The Freeze,” is in this issue. She just picked up her author’s copy today.

Exciting!

Charlotte Pence, Poetry Editor of Bluestem. Her poetry collection, MANY SMALL FIRES, was just published by Europa Press.

Charlotte Pence, Poetry Editor of Bluestem. Her poetry collection, MANY SMALL FIRES, was just published by Europa Press.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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