June 15, 2017

You’re so vain, you probably thought this award was about you

Recently I submitted an application to the National Magazine Awards at a cost of $107.35, even though that’s not the way it works. Usually the journal that originally published your work thinks you’re so great that they do the application for you, betting that your story will be selected from all those published that year. Journals have done this twice before on my behalf, but I’ve never won. The closest I ever came to a major prize was being included in the Journey Prize Anthology, from which a jury picks the winners—call it a long list. About a hundred years ago (okay, 1997) I had the somewhat diluted pleasure of being one of five horourable mentions in the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. In 1980 I was twelve and pretty thrilled to have my story read on CBC Radio. Besides these very well-spaced, minor victories, my stories don’t seem to be good contest candidates. So why risk being labelled vain and delusional? It felt strange to personally submit my story, bypassing the normal process, but I had a good feeling about “Tickles the Clown”. Feedback from the editor at Grain was very positive, but beyond that I felt the […]
May 23, 2017

Feeling fat with Lucas Crawford

Lucas Crawford, born in Halifax and raised in rural Nova Scotia, is a poet and Assistant Professor of English Literature at the University of New Brunswick. Lucas has published two books: Sideshow Concessions (Invisible Press 2015), which won the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, and, Transgender Architectonics (a scholarly monograph). In addition, Lucas’ poetry has appeared in magazines and journals such as Lambda Literary, Rattle, Chelsea Station, Lost in Thought, The Antigonish Review, The Nashwaak Review, The Literary Review of Canada, PRISM International, Rampike, Room, Dreamland, The New Quarterly, Plenitude, Geist, Atlantis, Other Voices, Best Canadian Poetry 2015, and a variety of books and anthologies. Lucas enjoys food writing and food pop culture, basketball fandom, the giant panda and its politics, perfumery, drawing, the beach, and comedy. After viewing your short video on the UNB website, I can see why your students love you. Your optimism, your positivity, the comments about the student/prof relationship, and your humility make me want to fly over and take that course myself. To say that profs are “still active learners” is not the same kind of top-down authoritarian stance I remember from many of my profs back in the day. I think it […]
May 2, 2017

Linda Field puts her back into it

If I could choose between a curt “no” and a lengthy rejection, it wouldn’t be an easy choice. With no information, I can make up my own explanation for why something was rejected. When it’s laid out in great detail, there’s no way to avoid the occasionally baffling or infuriating reasons for rejection. Linda’s analysis of my not-ready-for-prime-time novel was not a fun read, but it accurately hit a number of points that I’ll have to address if I’m ever going to get it together as a novelist. I consider my short stories to be concise and focused, but as Linda said, when it comes to this novel, “there is a lot going on, but nothing much happens.” Six years after I had abandoned the novel, I read through it again and found it had not aged well. For a guy who prides himself on quality control, I was disappointed to realize it was released before it was ready. As an admittedly weak defense, the novel was completed under some time pressure. I was excited about the possibility of publishing my novel with a major house, and that excitement overrode my usual process of a ridiculous number of revisions in […]
April 11, 2017

Reneé Bibby and the land of open carry

Reneé Bibby is the director of The Writers Studio Tucson, where she teaches advanced and beginner creative writing workshops. Her work has appeared in PRISM International, Thin Air, Third Point Press, The Worcester Review, and Wildness. She is contributing editor at the Wilds. www.reneebibby.com OM:  While other creative writing schools rely on individual instructors to set up course structure, The Writers Studio method directs students to attempt a range of narrative voices and styles, clarifying their own unique voices in the process. Having a set method leads to consistency, but is something lost if instructors don’t have total freedom regarding course work? RB:  At the Writers Studio Tucson, we are asking students to practice narrative voice and styles. It’s the equivalent of the music student mastering scales, the art student spending hours on figure drawing. We want students to have such a firm grounding in the fundamentals that they feel equipped to create their best work. There’s a strange mythos in American culture that a novel or story springs fully formed from the writer, but there’s a lot of “grunt work,” so to speak. Hours honing craft. Even Picasso studied figure drawing. There is space in the world for classes […]
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 […]