January 30, 2018

Short bursts and tight groupings with Brent van Staalduinen

Brent van Staalduinen is the author of the novel SAINTS, UNEXPECTED (Invisible Publishing). His short stories have won The Bristol Short Story Prize, the Lush Triumphant Literary Award, the Fiddlehead Best Short Story Award, and have appeared in Riddle Fence, The New Quarterly, EVENT, Prairie Fire, The Dalhousie Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Hamilton and teaches creative writing at Redeemer University College. Follow him on Twitter (@brentvans) and online at www.brentvans.com. As I read “Those Days Just a Glimmer” in Fiddlehead No. 273, I kept tripping over a name. Your story about private security contractors in Kuwait included a character named Tillman. I could not separate your Tillman from the NFL-football-player Tillman who joined the army after 9/11 and died in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan. Tillman, his story, his appearance, and his famous last words certainly evoke a wild, ultra-patriotic, gung-ho, all-American vibe. If your usage of the name was more than coincidence, what were you going for there? Interesting! The name wasn’t an intentional nod to the US soldier, although I’m not sure I can call it coincidence, either—I follow the news pretty closely, so I wonder if it subconsciously slipped in there. That’s some seriously […]
January 10, 2018

Art Moore and the renaming of things

Gerald Arthur (Art) Moore is a high school teacher, rugby coach and university lecturer. NON Publishing is releasing his forthcoming book Shatter the Glass, Shards of Flame in the Fall 2018. Moore, a poet and playwright, was formerly a commissioned officer in the Army reserve and has led five humanitarian work projects to Haiti. His poetry has appeared in Vallum, The Antigonish Review, The Dalhousie Review, Queen’s Quarterly, QWERTY, Prairie Fire, and The Nashwaak Review. At the end of each class Moore states, “Be good, don’t steal anything, come back to me sober; and girls, remember, boys lie.” Social justice is a strong theme in all three poems selected by Prairie Fire for 38:3. Is this something that permeates all your work? Do you feel a strong personal connection to these issues, or is the subject matter high test for your creative engine? Social justice is one of the themes that is prominent in my work. I am a high school teacher and part time university lecturer. My specific area of focus is working with students who were not in school last year; many of whom are from difficult home situations, struggle with addictions, have been involved in crime, have […]
November 14, 2017

My (small press) writing day

A few weeks ago, rob mclennan published my entry for his latest project “My (small press) writing day“. He’s doing a Canadian version of The Guardian‘s “My Writing Day”. You’d think these essays would start to sound the same after a while, but the range of expression is astounding. Posts come out every other day and do double duty as inspiration or commiseration, depending on your mood at the time. Within a discipline that can be isolating, it’s reassuring to know someone else is struggling with the same issues. My current favourite is from the grim yet funny Paul Carlucci, who had better hope his current employer doesn’t read it! Here’s my post, published by rob on October 21, 2017. Oscar Martens: My (small press) writing day…in 1993 I have to go back that far to recall my ideal writing situation. I’m marginally employed in Ottawa, working temp gigs at various Federal institutions such as the Public Service Commission, and the Department of Defence. I’m living in the lower level of my father’s townhouse on Britannia Bay. I pay $200/mo in rent. The forced air heating doesn’t really make it to my room due to faulty ductwork, but I have […]
October 24, 2017

Rob Taylor, a blatant self-promoter since 2006

Rob Taylor is the author of the poetry collections “Oh Not So Great”: Poems from the Depression Project (Leaf Press, 2017), The News (Gaspereau Press, 2016) and The Other Side of Ourselves (Cormorant Books, 2011). The News was a finalist for the 2017 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, and The Other Side of Ourselves won the 2010 Alfred G. Bailey Prize. In 2015 Rob received the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for the Literary Arts, as an emerging artist. He lives in Vancouver with his wife and son, where he coordinates the Dead Poets Reading Series. http://roblucastaylor.com Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were both asked to write a single word on a slip of paper to describe the key to their success. They both wrote “focus”. You’re a prolific producer, the coordinator of the Dead Poets Reading Series, a blogger, and a teacher. Is focus the key to your production? My wife just told me this evening, as I tried for the third time to install drapes in our new apartment, that my one redeeming quality was my perseverance. Ok, I added the “one redeeming quality” part, but I’m sure that’s what she was implying. I do everything wrong. I […]
October 2, 2017

Beautiful lies

If you feel shut out and shut down because the oppressive and ever-present patriarchy that rules every editor’s desk leads to the rejection of your gender and the subject matter of your stories, there’s hope. If you feel that an ultra-progressive, politically correct agenda has seeped into every classroom, every grant-giving organization, and every contest-judging panel, there’s hope. Without access to the information, without transparency, there is no way to know the truth about your 95% rejection rate. And when you’re left with no information, you make up your own. It’s human nature to crave stories and find patterns. Paranoia thrives as you search for facts that will never be known. If only we could do a transparency audit, to scroll through the thoughts of the decision makers as they came upon your piece. If only we had an objective breakdown with a list of reasons, assumptions, feelings, desires, and personal prejudices that were employed in the final decision. Did they accept your story because they know you, or because they don’t know you? If they knew you, would they still be interested in taking the story? Did your friendship with the editor influence her decision to take you on? […]