Antigone Undone, the latest book by Montreal writer Will Aitken (University of Regina Press), is a fascinating and emotionally driven look at Aitken’s behind-the-scenes experience of a production of Antigone directed by Ivo Van Hove, starring Juliette Binoche, with a translation by Anne Carson. From strolling around Luxembourg where the play débuted, to a tense few days in Amsterdam, and back to Montreal, Aitken gives the reader a deeply personal glimpse at an episode of depression that was sparked by encountering Antigone, both the play and the character. Using his own experience as a starting point, Aitken then explores various interpretations of Antigone, through scholarly texts and through interviews with Binoche, Carson and Van Hove about the play. By blending genres and exploring the stylistic elements of memoir, travelogue, essay, and academic writing, it’s a beautiful book that examines the vast power art has over us, in both its creative and destructive capacities.
carte blanche Editor-in-Chief Klara du Plessis recently spoke to Erin Robinsong, author of Rag Cosmology, which won the 2017 A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry. Among other things, Klara and Erin discuss ecological literature, the landscapes that have informed Erin’s practice, and the connection between dance and poetry.
Emily Keeler, my editor when I wrote book reviews for The National Post, asked me if I had any ideas for a long-essay-short-book when she took over Coach House’s Exploded Views line. The idea for Curry came from the way I read, which is to pick up an increasing number of books around a central subject I have an undefined interest in–Emily asking that question at the right time led me to actually nail down the reasons why I’d been reading old or atypical novels, memoirs, and travelogues about India. Much of it had to do with the way that market forces seemed to want from my writing, if what I wanted from my writing was money–which, I’m afraid, is true to a not inconsiderable degree.
Tanya Evanson is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. Because of the form that she uses and the fact that her work straddles the worlds of music, poetry, performance and production, she defies categorization in a way that makes her completely unique – and she’s getting noticed.
Liz Howard’s Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent won the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize, the first time the prize has been awarded to a debut collection. It was also a finalist for the 2015 Governor General’s Award for Poetry and received an honourable mention for the Alanna Bondar Memorial Book Prize. Howard received an Honours Bachelor of Science with High Distinction from the University of Toronto, and an MFA in Creative Writing through the University of Guelph.
carte blanche Editor-in-Chief Klara du Plessis recently spoke to Liz about translation, the construction of the self, translation, and navigating the contemporary literary landscape.
EVERY COUPLE OF WEEKS, Robert Edison Sandiford calls me from Barbados. Robert is one of this year’s Quebec Writers’ Federation mentors and I am his protégé. We’ve made arrangements to speak at 5 pm via Skype so this interview would feel more face-to-face. At 5:10, we still have no audio so he switches from his laptop to his desktop. At 5:25 the recording app on my phone stops working. At 5:37 we decide we’ll have to hobble back and forth between the computers, a phone, and another phone app to make it work. Afterwards, when it’s all sorted, he say: “Well, there’s a lesson about tenacity.”
I often use humour as a mechanism to encourage the reader to keep reading, but humour is like Sriracha for me, it has a very strong taste. If you’re not careful, it can drown everything else out. I want humour to be just one mechanism inside a bigger thing, like, it’s funny but it’s not only funny.
I think the writing that interests me most these days is the writing that pushes past the persona rather than leaning on it. And when I do that kind of thing, like write from a more emotional, less jokey place, it isn’t like people are jarred so there must be a shared feeling to it, one source from which it all comes.
Every aspect of life is “poetic”. Each day wasted to Facebook, each sip of Starbucks, each trip to Wilkes-Barre-Scranton. But, the cultural things that are not poetry which inform my poetry are, in order, literature that is not poetry (fiction, history, etc etc), music, art, television, movies, the internet, texting, sports, tourism, politics, dining, and shopping. The artists who are not poets who have influenced my work the most are Alice Cooper and David Letterman.
In general, I like leaps between forms and genres. In my final year in high school, my calculus teacher allowed us to do a final project where we approached any math topic of our choice in any way we chose. So I went down to the art room and worked on a painting of the Archimedean spiral. But an interest in the combination between the textual and visual started, I would say, as early as children’s books. It’s a visible engagement with language that I think gets lost when we grow up and start reading novels that have no pictures. The visual seems to be a natural place to turn in poetry.