March 21, 2017

High kicks in the bathroom with Richard Kelly Kemick

Richard Kelly Kemick’s poetry and prose have been published in magazines and journals across Canada and the United States. His debut collection of poetry, Caribou Run, was published March 2016 and selected by CBC as one of the season’s Must Read Collections. He won a National Magazine award in 2016 for One-of-a-Kind feature. OM: Judging from your website, it looks like you’ve put together a massive list of publishing credits in a short period of time. When did you first publish? What was your first publication credit? How did you react to the news? RK: My first publishing credit came in 2013(ish) in QWETRY. I remember jumping up and down on the faux-hardwood flooring. My partner at the time and I decided we’d go out for a drink; before we left, I went to the bathroom and high-kicked the air. OM: To what do you attribute your impressive production? Does other employment interfere with your writing, or are you one of the lucky few doing this full-time? RK: I have been incredibly lucky in having universities not only afford me funding but consider my writing as part of my studies. Furthermore, a couple grants (Alberta Foundation and Canada Council) have […]
March 7, 2017

The inappropriately modest Traci Skuce

Traci Skuce lives in Cumberland, BC. Her work has appeared in The New Quarterly, Prairie Fire, Grain, Little Fiction, Event and The Dalhousie Review. Also, she won the 2016 Sheldon Currie prize for fiction, and was a finalist in the 2015 CBC Nonfiction Prize. OM: You fooled me with your aggressively modest bio in Prairie Fire. You wrote, “Traci Skuce lives in Cumberland, BC, where she roams the forest, raises boys and writes. She is working on her first short-story collection.” You might have also included being a short list finalist for both the 2015 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize and the 2015 PRISM international Short Fiction Contest, as well as publishing in Grain, Event, and Prairie Fire. Are short lists and honourary mentions not good enough to make it to your bio? I was about to ask if Prairie Fire was your first publishing credit but soon found others through my Internet creeping. I know bios need not be a comprehensive list of credits, but it does seem like a suitable place to do a little bragging. What’s with the tiny bio in Prairie Fire? TS: Yeah, my friend gave me a talking to about that one. She said, “No, […]
February 21, 2017

Disturbing numbers from the small press world

On June 11, 2015, I submitted twelve queries for my collection of short stories titled No Call Too Small. Seven publishers responded within six months, one took over a year, three included extensive comments after serious consideration, and four have not responded at all. The last number is the most annoying. I don’t pretend to understand the inner workings of a small press, but the general story seems to be that the workers are either underpaid and overworked or unpaid and overworked. Both groups are overwhelmed by the height of the slush pile. Given the extreme power imbalance between writer and publisher, this situation never has to change. Publishers don’t need to respond in a timely manner. They don’t need to respond at all because those manuscripts will keep coming no matter what they do. There are no consequences for ignoring submissions, but that isn’t my point. When some houses respond in a reasonable time frame, even though they don’t have to, we know there are other forces at work. Those editors realize that it isn’t ethical or professional to leave writers hanging for over a year. A higher level of service is internalized in their culture. Small presses, if […]
February 7, 2017

Nadine McInnis and the attack of the cry bullies

Nadine McInnis is the author of nine books of poetry, short fiction and literary criticism. She has twice been awarded the Ottawa Book Award, most recently in 2016 for her collection of poems, Delirium for Solo Harp. Her most recent book of fiction, Blood Secrets, was long-listed for the international Frank O’Connor Short Story Award and short-listed for the Ottawa Book Award and the ReLit Award. She teaches writing in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. OM:  When I had the pleasure of being your student, I was relieved to find you open to whatever we could produce. It was the early 90s, and we were living through a wave of political correctness. One of my fellow classmates did not like the subject matter of the work I had presented for review. In it, bad things happened, and people behaved poorly. It suggested that the world was an unfair place full of competitive, selfish, sometimes cruel people pursuing their own self-interest. My angry classmate seemed to think that all events and subjects in poetry should closely align with the ideal world that social justice warriors were trying to create. Art was an opportunity to advance the agenda of living in […]
January 24, 2017

Stephanie Yorke, Thom Yorke, and a bunch of muttonheads

Stephanie Yorke is a poet, fiction writer, and librettist. She has published her work in Canada and in other countries. She is Canadian, and has lived in Oxford and Johannesburg. OM:  When you’ve established yourself in the writing scene in one area (city/country), can any of that social momentum transfer to a new area? What was your experience? Is it possible to maintain a presence in another country with frequent trips and exchanges if you are not a resident? SY:  I’m going to be a bit contrary in answering this one. I’ll start off by saying this: even hearing the phrase “the writing scene in one area” fills me through the ribs to the throat with a combination of dread and torpor. Social momentum? Do you mean the stale, overfamiliar interpersonal dynamics? The turf wars? Those two friends who show up for every live reading, and then just sit there and knit the whole time? Click-click, click-click. Moving cities is great. I’ve had the very good fortune to live in several places that had writing scenes that could be negotiated in order to gain access to fantastic writing. Yes, the muttonheads with a social rather than an aesthetic investment in […]