INSIGHT: Saying Yes

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I am bad at saying no. As part of a better-late-in-life-than-never self-improvement exercise, I try to turn down extra work—especially the non-paying variety.

So last summer, when Michelle Sylvestre of the Make A Wish Foundation phoned to tell me about a volunteer opportunity—Raphaëlla Vaillancourt, a young survivor of a life-threatening illness, wished to publish a book and needed mentoring—I referred Michelle to Lori Schubert at the Quebec Writers’ Federation.

A few days later, Lori contacted me. If the QWF could fund a mentorship for Raphaëlla, would I take the job?

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Punk, Pranks and Parallel Lines—An Interview with Author Kembrew McLeod

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Kembrew McLeod is a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa.  He is a prolific author, filmmaker, and prankster.  His latest book is Blondie’s Parallel Lines (Bloomsbury, 2016) the 111th book in 33 1/3’s series on classic albums.  Brad deRoo nerded out via email to get to some intersecting lines from Kembrew McLeod for carte blanche this April. Read more →

FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT: Gadfly at the Festival

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In the hospitality room at the Hôtel Gouverneurs in Trois-Rivières, you are greeted by two perky volunteers whose first question after introductions is: “Will you three be reading the French translations of your poems yourselves, or will you be requiring the services of a French reader?” Oh, my, you think. What translations? The hotel carpet begins to yaw under your chair. What was I thinking coming to a poetry festival in a city whose population is 97 percent French—without translations?

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“If the bad side of CanLit were a criminal operation, Omertà would be in full effect” — An Interview with Author Kris Bertin

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Kris Bertin is from Halifax. His stories have appeared in The Walrus, The Malahat Review, TNQ, and PRISM International. He has twice won the Jack Hodgin’s Founder’s Award for Fiction and has appeared in The Journey Prize Anthology. His first collection of short stories Bad Things Happen (Biblioasis, 2016) has received very good reviews in the Toronto Star and Quill & Quire – good thing too, because it is it a gritty, funny, and memorably weird book. Brad de Roo avoided a lot of bad things on the internet to interview Kris Bertin for carte blanche this March. Read more →

From the Underground: A Writer’s Life with Zines

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I had tapped into a vibrant community of punk writers who crafted great stories and then cut and pasted their work together, photocopied it, and released it with no thought of gaining attention from the world of mainstream literature. These were my first literary heroes. In a time before our current memoir boom, they wrote honest and true stories full of grit and heart. Read more →

shop talk: the way we use images

But film hasn’t given up. Instead, in peculiar ways, film has worked its way back into the network of billions of images that we share on a daily basis. And what is more curious is this: a large number of digital photographers have rejected the hyper-real pretensions of the early medium in favour of filters and effects that mimic the aberrations and limits of film photography.

shop talk: It was a dark and stormy tweet

Twitter is also a fiction publishing phenomenon. While not as popular as keitai shosetsu (literally, cellphone novel) in Japan, it is increasingly being taken on by serious writers, serious wannabe writers, and seriously get-on-the-bandwagon publishers.

shop talk: The Literary Event That Almost Wasn’t

The panel table was spot lit and a row of microphones were in place, looking very official. The hour the event was to begin came, and then went. The door opened, and all eyes turned to it, hoping to see the audience stream in. Then, shoulders sagged in unison when a lone person appeared, a friend of the bartender, wondering what he had done to disappoint.