QWF Writes: Living and Writing in the Country

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“We’re thinking of moving to the country,” I told mystery writer Louise Penny when I bumped into her at the Knowlton Literary Festival in 2010, adding that my husband and I weren’t sure if it was the right thing for our writing careers. Penny was enthusiastic: “Do it,” she said, “while you can!” A few months later, we bought a 200-year-old farmhouse in the tiny hamlet of Hatley.

For Penny, living in the country proved no hindrance to her career. Her depiction of the fictional village of Three Pines and the eccentric characters who inhabit it launched her to international success. Now on the sixteenth volume of her Inspector Gamache series, she has sold over six million books worldwide.

QWF Writes: Writing After a Concussion

Pearl Pirie (Headshot by Brian Pirie)

The first year after I had a concussion was a blur. I was dead to the world for three months, going in and out of sleep, exhausted. I had vertigo and difficulties with light, sound, and language. No reading. No computers. No writing. Definitely no multitasking. I had to rest for far more hours than seemed viable and consequently had to suddenly quit a few organizations I led, with no succession plan in place. I closed my small press, or as it turned out, put it on hiatus. I simply had no choice.

As with a stroke or cancer, a traumatic brain injury can be an opportunity to reexamine one’s life and priorities.

New Blog Editor/Communications Manager: Erin Lindsay

Erin Lindsay

“We are thrilled to introduce our new Blog Editor/Communication Manager, Erin Lindsay!”

There’s more than one way to tell a story.

I responded immediately to carte blanche’s philosophy.

I see this statement as an invitation for hybridity and experimentation. I see this statement as one that is inclusive and open. In this statement, I see the call for a vibrant literary and arts ecology- a community enriched by a diversity of forms, genres, and perspectives. I deeply understand this call. I want to be a part of this vision.

QWF Writes: “Hi, I’m ______ ”: Choosing My Author Name

K.B. Thors

“What do we call you?” is a question I’ve gotten used to hearing, especially in the writing world. I write now as K.B. Thors, but up until the end of 2017 I was publishing poetry, translations, and essays under the name K.T. Billey. My legal name is Kara Billey Thordarson. If I meet you, I’ll introduce myself as Kara.

That might seem all over the place, but the evolution of my nom de plume mirrors the development not just of my writing but of my self. I’d encourage any writer to experiment with their own creative license, no matter what a brand expert might say.

PROTECT, REACT, RESIST

Resisting Canada

In November of 2019 I spoke to Nyla Matuk about colonialism, activism, and resistance poetry for the Fall issue of the Montreal Review of Books. Matuk’s book, Resisting Canada, was just about to come out from Véhicule Press, and I for one was excited to see such a revolutionary book in the Canadian literary milieu.

The book is beautiful and searing, an anthology of voices championing defiance against a settler state that silences and abuses its population while simultaneously praising itself for its image as a progressive and liberal melting pot.

There is never a bad time to honestly discuss Canada’s oppressive tactics and colonialist heritage. But right now, as the federal and provincial governments, RCMP, and Coastal GasLink/Transcanada flagrantly violate Wet’suwet’en, Canadian law, and international law, it feels particularly relevant. To quote Erica Violet Lee, the land defense currently being carried out is “an enactment of Indigenous law and an affirmation of Indigenous life.” As we witness Canada’s assault on Indigenous rights, we must take action.

QWF Writes: Why You Should Apply for a Canada Council Grant Every Year until You Die

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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a writer in possession of a good idea, must be in want of a grant. Last year I was on a Canada Council granting jury, and it not only enlightened me as to how the whole process works, it also renewed my faith in the Canada Council in general, and in the granting process in particular.

Over the years some of my writer friends had gotten the distinct impression that the Canada Council was this edifice of insiders. Those who got grants kept getting them, and those on the juries awarded grants to their writer friends. And this bitter conviction stopped many of them from applying. “I’m not going to win anyway, so why try?” It doesn’t help that by default, a writer’s life is an incessant litany of rejection.

But after having been on the jury, I’m now convinced we all should apply annually.

Announcing the Guest Poetry Editor for the Winter 2020 issue of carte blanche: Carolin Huang!

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carte blanche is pleased to announce Carolin Huang has been named guest poetry editor for the winter 2020 issue of the magazine!

Carolin Huang is a writer, archivist, and academic living in Montreal. In 2019, she participated in the Banff Centre Emerging Writers Intensive and the Jack Kerouac Summer Writing Program.