Brockton Writers Series 11.01.17

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 11, 2017 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series rings in another amazing year! Join us for readings by:

Danila Botha
John Calabro
Soraya Peerbaye
Dane Swan

and special guest speaker

TBA

AT

full of beans Coffee House & Roastery

1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto

The reading is PWYC (suggested $3-$5) and features a Q&A with the writers afterward. Books and treats are available for sale.

Accessibility Information
The venue is wheelchair accessible (no step up at door), but washroom facilities are down a flight of stairs. Street parking. Accessible by 505 Dundas streetcar (Lisgar stop). Please contact Farzana Doctor if you need to reserve a seat as the venue can get full.
Please refrain from wearing scents.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

OAC_REVISED_NEWCOLOURS_1805c

And to the Canada Council for the Arts for travel funding!

GUEST SPEAKER

TBA

 

READERS

img_8307Danila Botha is the author of the novel Too Much on the Inside (Quattro, 2015), which recently won a Book Excellence Award for Contemporary Novel, and the short story collections For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known (Tightrope, 2016) and Got No Secrets (Tightrope, 2010). She just started writing a column interviewing writers for the Puritan’s Town Crier. Danila is currently writing a new novel and working on her MFA in Creative Writing through the University of Guelph. She will be teaching at the Humber School for Writers, in the correspondence writing program this spring. Danila lives in Toronto with her family.

john-calabro-photoJohn Calabro is a fiction writer. His novella, Bellecour, published in 2005 was named by the Globe and Mail as one of the top 5 First Fiction in 2005. The Cousin was published in 2009, and its French translation, Le Cousin, was shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award. An Imperfect Man is his third novella.

soraya_guenther-1Soraya Peerbaye’s most recent collection of poetry, Tell: Poems for a Girlhood (Pedlar Press, 2015), won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry in English and was a finalist for the Griffin Poetry prize. Her first collection, Poems for the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (Goose Lane Editions, 2009) was short-listed for the Gerald Lampert Award. Her poems have appeared in Red Silk: An Anthology of South Asian Women Poets, and the chapbook anthology Translating Horses. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph.

dsc00426Dane Swan’s second  poetry collection, A Mingus Lullaby, was published by Guernica Editions in Spring 2016. Inspired by the life and music of Charles Mingus, the collection explores themes that permeate the life of his subject and Dane’s personal life. A past Writer in Residence for Open Book Toronto, former slam poet, and self-taught author, Dane Swan regularly collaborates with poets, performance artists and musicians as a founding member of MXTP_CLTRS (Mixtape Cultures), a small artist collective.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BWS 09.11.16: Five First-page Mistakes, with Suzanne Sutherland

suzannesutherland-jpg

Suzanne Sutherland is the Children’s and YA Editor at HarperCollins Publishers, where she has worked with internationally bestselling authors such as Kenneth Oppel, Emma Donoghue, Dennis Lee and Kit Pearson. She is also the author of three novels for teens, including her most recent,Under the Dusty Moon.

Suzanne gave the talk “Getting Past Page One: How to Make Sure a Publisher Will Read Your Manuscript” at our November 2016 event, and left us with these five tips!

1. Not establishing a distinctive voice
No editor wants to feel as though they’ve already read a manuscript before they’ve even begun. There are always new voices and new perspectives to be explored in fiction, so be sure to consider what makes your story unique from other books like it in the market.

Your character’s voices are also hugely important. Stilted dialogue can be an early tip-off to an editor that an author may have a fine broad sense of their novel but may not have fine-tuned it on a molecular level. Consider reading dialogue out loud, and think about what makes your character’s voice and perspective unique.

2. Introducing too many details or characters
There’s a balance to be struck, of course. You want to bring the reader (or editor) into the world of your story, but you want to do it in a thoughtful way. Remember that every character, like every chapter and even every scene, should be driving your manuscript forward to its eventual destination–each element that exists on the page should be there for a reason.

3. Being too heavy-handed with tone or theme
While you certainly do want to establish these elements early in the story, be on the lookout for scenes, characters or even turns of phrase that, while precious to you, may not ultimately fit within the narrative. These are your darlings, and you will have to be ruthless with them. Sorry.

4. Not starting your story at its most interesting point
Remember that you need to establish and build tension throughout your story to keep readers turning the pages. Think about where this can be found in the manuscript and how you can support that development through your storytelling. Beginning your story at the right moment in your central conflict is crucial to maintaining narrative propulsion.

5. Expecting the reader to have a particular familiarity with the subject, the time, the genre
Certainly there are readers, and editors, who will never read a word of a particular genre or category of book, and it is in no way necessary to please everyone. But a good book really does transcend these arbitrary barriers–just be sure that you’re not counting any readers out before they’ve had a chance to be truly absorbed by your story. Consider a reader who has never read a book like yours. What is it about your story that will pull them in?

Check back after our next event for more tips from our next guest speaker–-and before that, see you at our next event: January 11, 2017, 6:30pm,  at full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BWS 09.11.16: It’s Tonight!

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 9, 2016 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series celebrates its seventh anniversary! Join us for readings by:

Louise Bak
Pratap Reddy
Olive Senior
Bänoo Zan

and special guest speaker

Suzanne Sutherland

AT

full of beans Coffee House & Roastery

1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto

The reading is PWYC (suggested $3-$5) and features a Q&A with the writers afterward. Books and treats are available for sale.

Accessibility Information
The venue is wheelchair accessible (no step up at door), but washroom facilities are down a flight of stairs. Street parking. Accessible by 505 Dundas streetcar (Lisgar stop). Please contact Farzana Doctor if you need to reserve a seat as the venue can get full.
Please refrain from wearing scents.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

OAC_REVISED_NEWCOLOURS_1805c

And to the Canada Council for the Arts for travel funding!

GUEST SPEAKER

Getting Past Page One: How to Make Sure a Publisher Will Read Your Manuscript

suzannesutherland-jpg

Suzanne Sutherland is the Children’s and YA Editor at HarperCollins Publishers, where she has worked with internationally bestselling authors such as Kenneth Oppel, Emma Donoghue, Dennis Lee and Kit Pearson. She is also the author of three novels for teens, including her most recent,Under the Dusty Moon.

READERS

1654053_10153843291505198_1497305120_nLouise Bak is the author of Syzygy (DC Books),Tulpa (Coach House Books), Gingko Kitchen (CH) andemeighty (Letters). She’s the co-host of Sex City, Toronto’s only radio show focused on intersections between sexuality and culture. Her recent poetry will be assembled in a small book with Impulse.

pratapPratap Reddy moved to Canada from India in 2002. An underwriter by day and a writer by night, he writes short fiction about the agonies and the angst (on occasion the ecstasies) of new immigrants. He has completed a creative writing program from the Humber School for Writers. Pratap was awarded the Best Emerging Literary Artist prize from the Mississauga Arts Council, and has received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council. His short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines in Canada, the USA and India. His collection Weather Permitting and Other Stories (Guernica Editions) was published in June 2016. He is currently working on a novel, and another collection.

olive-senior

Olive Senior is the prize-winning author of 17 books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s literature. Her latest, The Pain Tree, is the winner of the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. She lives in Toronto but returns frequently to Jamaica where she was born. She conducts writing workshops internationally and is on the faculty of the Humber School for Writers.

13147817_849033071908279_1008288456376772135_o

Bänoo Zan has published more than 120 poems, translations, biographies, and articles. Songs of Exile, her first poetry collection, was released in 2016; Letters to My Father, a second, is due to be published in early 2017. Bänoo is also the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), the most diverse poetry reading and open mic series in Toronto..

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BWS 09.11.16: Bänoo Zan

13147817_849033071908279_1008288456376772135_o

Bänoo Zan has published more than 120 poems, translations, biographies, and articles. Songs of Exile, her first poetry collection, was released in 2016; Letters to My Father, a second, is due to be published in early 2017. Bänoo is also the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), the most diverse poetry reading and open mic series in Toronto.

Bänoo stopped by the blog for an interview before her appearance tomorrow!

BWS: You’ve said elsewhere that you chose your alias when you felt your were “writing in a voice other than [your] own, the wiser, more mature voice of [your] muse”. How does the translation from the personal to the poetic feel? And are there ways in which you might say that your voice as a person is “immature” by comparison to the voice of your muse?

Bänoo: Poetry is not a translation of life. It is an expression of life, and a brutally direct one at that. Poetry starts after stories have told and retold themselves. Poetry does not tell stories, though stories could be written based on it. Poetry is so open-ended you can write the story in a screaming number of ways. Poetry un-tells stories that impose their narrative on you and take your agency away. Poetry is reclamation of your right to be larger than your life. It is freedom from history.

I have come to realize that my inner voice knows more than I do. To give you an example, when I fall in love, at first I don’t realize I am in love. It is only when I write a poem and others describe it as a love poem or when I read it much later that I realize I am in love! If it wasn’t for my inner voice, I wouldn’t know what I am. If I listened to my own poetic voice at non-poetic moments, I would be beyond reproach. But I am blind to my own wisdom.

BWS: Given that you write under a pseudonym, I was wondering if you had any reaction to the recent “unmasking” of the novelist Elena Ferrante by a journalist, or to the responses to it. (Jeanette Winterson, for one, found the journalist’s actions malicious and sexist.)

Bänoo: I did not know about this, until I read the article. I don’t know the writer, so cannot have an opinion.

As for my case, “Bänoo Zan” as a pen name does not attempt to hide either my gender or my ethnicity. It means “Ms. Woman” in Persian. Any Persian speaker knows it is not a name, nor can it exist in this combination. And, it came to me well before I landed in Canada or even thought of leaving Iran.

My pen name came to me, not in an attempt to “create” an identity, but in an attempt to “define” it. I was feeling the presence of this voice that was and still is changing me into her scribe. As a poet, I claim the right to speak for my muse!

Let me tell you something: I wouldn’t have survived in this new land (Toronto, Canada) if I were not blessed with this self-confidence. I would not have left a trace on the Toronto poetry scene if I did not think I have the right and the responsibility to engage with the world around me. For one thing, I write poetry in a language that is not my mother tongue. And I share it with many who question that right. What is more, I am a peacemaker, a leader, a visionary who brings diverse communities together. This is a long term project. It will take more than a life-time. I don’t have time to be “successful.” But who knows what others see as success?

Poets do not write only about themselves. They capture the other in the self. Self-discovery is a never-ending pursuit, because it involves the discovery of the world. I should be thankful to whoever helps me know myself better. In some traditions, people go on adventures to find their name. I may have been on such a journey towards my writerly self when I encountered “Bänoo Zan.”

BWS: Several of the poems in Songs of Exile have dedications: to your mother, your father and each of two sisters; the book’s editor and its proofreader; and also to a public figure, Nelson Mandela. Do you know before you write a poem who it is for, or does this emerge afterward? And assuming that you never met Nelson Mandela (awesome if you did, I want to hear the story!): how is dedicating a poem to a public figure different than dedicating one to a person you know?

Bänoo: I often know from the start who the poem is about and begin poems like these with dedication. On another note, I know and don’t know the people I write about: poetry is a journey to the subject. If I thought I knew these people very well, I would probably never write about them. Most of them are people in my life, family, friends, relatives, lovers, but also public figures. None of them knew they were going to end up in the book before they read it. The Nelson Mandela tribute was written over three or four days after he passed away. I did not know Nelson Mandela personally, but I believe the political is personal.

BWS: In a wonderful CWILA interview, you say your poetry is not narrative. But would a reader be mistaken to tease out connections between the four poems called “Phoenix” or the five under the title “Words”? Particularly in the “Words” series (if I may call it that), one might argue there’s a progression: the speaker in (I) asks “Turn me into your words”, in (II) says “Transform your words / into yourself / that I may / begin to believe / in me”, in (III) is “in love with misunderstanding”, in (IV) fears words crawling on [her] palm are “nature / turning against itself” and in (V) feels trapped, perhaps, “a word in your lexicon”, and declares silence [her] song of liberation, [her] “exile / from the confinement / of your words”. How did you decide to put these poems in this sequence? Why are three grouped together, but IV and V spaced out and a little further into the collection? How do you see the “Words” poems relating to each other?

Bänoo: Poetry is a post-story genre. Readers are free to tease out stories from any poems or groups of poems. As I mentioned in the CWILA interview, however, the arrangement of poems in the book is chronological. The “Words” poems are about linguistic alienation of immigrants as well as the alienation of language from itself. As a newcomer I soon realized that stereotypical associations are imposed on immigrants. People automatically assume they know your ethnicity, colour, sexual orientation, religion, age, and more; all on the basis of the way you “look.” They don’t even bother to ask. Newcomers are told that problems start to go away once we learn the language of this country. When I landed, I already knew the language better than many of its native speakers. It has not helped dissipate misunderstandings. The “Words” poems are about the failure of language and poetry to bridge the gap.

Bänoo Zan visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC) – along with Louise Bak, Pratap Reddy, Olive Senior and a special guest talk, “Getting Past Page One: How to Make Sure a Publisher Will Read Your Manuscript”, by HarperCollins Canada Children’s and Young Adult Editor Suzanne Sutherland.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BWS 09.11.16: Olive Senior

olive-senior

Olive Senior is the prize-winning author of 17 books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s literature. Her latest, The Pain Tree, is the winner of the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. She lives in Toronto but returns frequently to Jamaica where she was born. She conducts writing workshops internationally and is on the faculty of the Humber School for Writers.

Olive is also a contributing editor for the Ottawa-based online literary magazine Maple Tree Literary Supplement, which celebrated its 20th issue last fall and just released #21.

Ahead of Olive’s visit on November 9, the BWS blog presents a throwback to MTLS‘s first two issues, which respectively featured her short story “Flying” and her poem “Persephone”. Enjoy!

Olive Senior visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC) – along with Louise Bak, Pratap Reddy, Bänoo Zan and a special guest talk, “Getting Past Page One: How to Make Sure a Publisher Will Read Your Manuscript”, by HarperCollins Canada Children’s and Young Adult Editor Suzanne Sutherland.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BWS 09.11.2016: Louise Bak

1654053_10153843291505198_1497305120_n

Louise Bak is the author of Syzygy (DC Books),Tulpa (Coach House Books), Gingko Kitchen (CH) and emeighty (Letters). She’s the co-host of Sex City, Toronto’s only radio show focused on intersections between sexuality and culture. Her recent poetry will be assembled in a small book with Impulse.

Follow the links below for a sampling of Louise’s poems ahead of her Nov. 9 appearance!

“Restlessness”, “Immuring” & “Whine”

“Absorptive”

Louise Bak visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC) – along with Pratap Reddy, Olive Senior, Bänoo Zan and a special guest talk, “Getting Past Page One: How to Make Sure a Publisher Will Read Your Manuscript”, by HarperCollins Canada Children’s and Young Adult Editor Suzanne Sutherland.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BWS 09.11.2016: Pratap Reddy

pratap

Pratap Reddy moved to Canada from India in 2002. An underwriter by day and a writer by night, he writes short fiction about the agonies and the angst (on occasion the ecstasies) of new immigrants. He has completed a creative writing program from the Humber School for Writers. Pratap was awarded the Best Emerging Literary Artist prize from the Mississauga Arts Council, and has received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council. His short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines in Canada, the USA and India. His collection Weather Permitting and Other Stories (Guernica Editions) was published in June 2016. He is currently working on a novel, and another collection.

Ahead of his November 9 visit to BWS, Pratap shares an excerpt from “Going West”, a story in Weather Permitting, and the book’s trailer, too!

“Going West” (excerpt)

When the airplane banked, I had my first glimpse of the CN Tower, rising like an upended middle-finger. I was immigrating to Canada, and the huge butterflies in my stomach were only growing bigger.

The aircraft swooped down, and landing with a thud, raced down the runway hell for leather. As though having thought better of it, the plane slowed down and eventually came to a stop. Soon afterwards some of the passengers shot up like jack-rabbits as usual and dashed to the exit, clogging the aisles. I waited for the crush to subside before I got up from my seat and pulled out my hand luggage from the overhead rack. Dragging the bag after me, and balancing a rather capacious coat on my arm, I sidled out of the plane. I clutched the coat – the thickest I could buy in India – as if it were some sort of talisman that would protect me from Canada’s notorious cold.

I shuffled along what seemed like an endless corridor towards the immigration check. Other passengers, with tired, bored expressions, sped past me, standing on a moving walkway. Being unused to a travelator, I gave it a wide berth not wanting to break a leg on my first day in Canada.

I waited in a cavernous hall with a planeload of landed immigrants – men, women and their cranky children. When my number was called I entered a small cell. The border official took my Indian passport and the snot-green landing paper, and checked every line in them, periodically looking up to examine my face. What with 9/11 and all, I was half-expecting him to whip out a pair of handcuffs and slap them onto my wrists. But he was more interested in the ‘proof of funds’ I had brought with me. Satisfied with the loot, he said: “Welcome to Canada!”

At baggage carousel, I was seized with a paroxysm of alarm when my suitcases refused to show up on conveyor belt. When I cased the area around the carousel, much to my relief, I saw my luggage stacked safely on one side. Not having Canadian change on me, I accepted a coin – reluctantly yet thankfully – from a fellow passenger to get myself a baggage trolley.

In the lobby of Pearson International Airport, standing like lighthouse, I swept my gaze in a semicircle over the multicultural collection of faces of people waiting for their near and dear to emerge. A few of them had surgical masks tied to their faces, I noticed with concern. Praful Patel, the owner of the guesthouse I’d be staying at, had promised to receive me – for a fee, of course. There was a fair sprinkling of south Asians, but I managed to lock on to his unsure, unmasked, half-smiling face. He looked older than in the JPEG image he had sent me by email.

A few days before leaving for Canada, I had surfed the Internet searching for some sort of accommodation that wouldn’t be too expensive. Checking into a hotel was out of question. As to friends and relatives in Canada, I had none. On the web I found a not so flattering review of the Patel guesthouse. It was a pension-like set up where immigrants could avail themselves of its frugal hospitality without getting gouged. I’m not the type to give much credence to all the reviews one encounters on the net, so I booked myself a spot – I was thankful to have an inexpensive place to go to, straight from the airport.

Praful extended his hand and said, “Welcome to Canada. Did you have a pleasant journey?”

I nodded – though I wouldn’t have called travelling twenty thousand miles in 24 hours with two extended layovers and not much sleep, pleasant. I took his hand nervously. The newspapers in India were full of stories of a dreaded disease called SARS that was rampant in Canada.

Praful took control of the trolley and we walked to the parking lot. The spring evening was bright but it still had a nip to it – with a shiver running down my back, I draped my thick coat loosely over my shoulders and hugged it like a shawl. Praful who was dressed in a golf shirt and shorts, seemed impervious to the weather. Once the suitcases were stowed in the boot I went around and stood on what I thought was the passenger side. Praful too materialized on the same side.

“Sorry!” I said. “I forgot you drive on the wrong side in this country!”

“No problem. There are many things in this country which are the exact opposite of what you find in India.” He added sagely: “You’ll get used to them.”

As Praful steered the car through the enormous parking lot that seemed to be deliberately laid out as a maze, I was struck by the multiplicity of roads and flyovers snaking out of the airport, and the sheer number of automobiles swarming over them. Even though it was only dusk then, all the cars had their lights turned on. Ahead, the procession of red tail lights moved steadily as if keeping time to an unseen metronome. Back home, I was used to seeing traffic, composed of cars, buses, motorcycles, auto-rickshaws and an occasional cow or two – rushing harum-scarum along the roads.

Praful played Bollywood songs for my benefit during the twenty minute drive to his semi- detached house in Mississauga, a suburb to the west of Toronto. The Patels ran their guesthouse out of this property.

“Every Sunday they show a Hindi film on TV,” he said. “But if you have a satellite dish, there’s no limit to how many Indian films you can see! Do you like Hindi films?”

“No,” I said. I didn’t mean to offend him. In India I had watched Hollywood films in regular theatres, and enjoyed old French cinema shown at special screenings even more.

“Oh!” said Praful, and added hurriedly: “Should I switch off the music?”

“No, don’t!” I said. “I do like Hindi film music however.”

The houses on the street he lived had a uniform appearance with chocolate brown facades and lawns the size of living room carpets. Praful taxied the car close to the front door. Between the two of us, we managed to move the oversized suitcases into the lobby. When I pushed open the front door which was left unlocked, I was at once assailed by the fug of Indian cooking. I had not experienced such a powerful bouquet even in India where a billion mouths had to be fed daily.

A plump middle-aged woman, with close-cropped hair and dressed in shirt and pants, came forward and said: “I’m Mrs. Patel. Welcome to Canada.”

All the Mrs. Patels I had met hitherto had worn saris, even if wrong way round, Gujju style. Mrs Patel unwittingly delivered the first jolt of culture shock to an immigrant from India. Maybe, reading the astonishment on my face, and perhaps wanting to calm me, she said hurriedly: “I’ll make some chai for you. Sit down and relax.”

No sooner she went into the kitchen than a man came down the large wooden staircase that seemed to dominate the living room area. He was of medium height and light-skinned.

Praful introduced us: “Gahlot meet our new guest. He’s from Hyderabad.”

“Welcome to Canada,” Gahlot said without enthusiasm, and added: “I want to speak to Falguni.”

The man went into the kitchen and at once started remonstrating with Mrs. Patel. I could hear the argument over the timpani of the kitchen utensils.

“Falguni, why should I pay for the lock?”

“Because you’ve lost the key!”

“I only lost the key, not the lock!”

“Yeah, but…”

Praful said: “Come on, I’ll take you to your room.”

As we climbed up the stairs, lugging my suitcases, Praful cautioned me, using only gestures, to tread quietly. I noticed then that unlike back home, staircases and floors in Canadian homes were made of wood which made a lot of noise as you walked over them.

The room upstairs was little more than a box, and had two cots set at right angles. I could make out the spoor of the other occupant: a shirt hanging on the back of chair, a used coffee mug on a table, the odour of unwashed socks.

It was getting dark, so I reached out my hand and tried to switch on the light. I found the toggle switch already at ‘on’ position.

“Aren’t the lights working?” I asked.

Switching on the light, Praful said, “You must push it up to put on the light.”

In India the electrical switches operated in the opposite way. It was at this moment, standing awash in the yellow light of low wattage, that it dawned on me that I had left my own country for good and immigrated to a land about which I knew so very little. Within the last two hours I had been welcomed to Canada on four occasions, with varying degrees of warmth. Yet I felt a wave of homesickness rising in my innards, bitter as bile.

Pratap Reddy visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC) – along with Louise Bak, Olive Senior, Bänoo Zan and a special guest talk, “Getting Past Page One: How to Make Sure a Publisher Will Read Your Manuscript”, by HarperCollins Canada Children’s and Young Adult Editor Suzanne Sutherland.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brockton Writers Series 09.11.16

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 9, 2016 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series celebrates its seventh anniversary! Join us for readings by:

Louise Bak
Pratap Reddy
Olive Senior
Bänoo Zan

and special guest speaker

Suzanne Sutherland

AT

full of beans Coffee House & Roastery

1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto

The reading is PWYC (suggested $3-$5) and features a Q&A with the writers afterward. Books and treats are available for sale.

Accessibility Information
The venue is wheelchair accessible (no step up at door), but washroom facilities are down a flight of stairs. Street parking. Accessible by 505 Dundas streetcar (Lisgar stop). Please contact Farzana Doctor if you need to reserve a seat as the venue can get full.
Please refrain from wearing scents.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

OAC_REVISED_NEWCOLOURS_1805c

And to the Canada Council for the Arts for travel funding!

GUEST SPEAKER

Getting Past Page One: How to Make Sure a Publisher Will Read Your Manuscript

suzannesutherland-jpg

Suzanne Sutherland is the Children’s and YA Editor at HarperCollins Publishers, where she has worked with internationally bestselling authors such as Kenneth Oppel, Emma Donoghue, Dennis Lee and Kit Pearson. She is also the author of three novels for teens, including her most recent, Under the Dusty Moon.

READERS

1654053_10153843291505198_1497305120_nLouise Bak is the author of Syzygy (DC Books), Tulpa (Coach House Books), Gingko Kitchen (CH) and emeighty (Letters). She’s the co-host of Sex City, Toronto’s only radio show focused on intersections between sexuality and culture. Her recent poetry will be assembled in a small book with Impulse.

pratapPratap Reddy moved to Canada from India in 2002. An underwriter by day and a writer by night, he writes short fiction about the agonies and the angst (on occasion the ecstasies) of new immigrants. He has completed a creative writing program from the Humber School for Writers. Pratap was awarded the Best Emerging Literary Artist prize from the Mississauga Arts Council, and has received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council. His short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines in Canada, the USA and India. His collection Weather Permitting and Other Stories (Guernica Editions) was published in June 2016. He is currently working on a novel, and another collection.

olive-senior

Olive Senior is the prize-winning author of 17 books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s literature. Her latest, The Pain Tree, is the winner of the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. She lives in Toronto but returns frequently to Jamaica where she was born. She conducts writing workshops internationally and is on the faculty of the Humber School for Writers.

13147817_849033071908279_1008288456376772135_o

Bänoo Zan has published more than 120 poems, translations, biographies, and articles. Songs of Exile, her first poetry collection, was released in 2016; Letters to My Father, a second, is due to be published in early 2017. Bänoo is also the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), the most diverse poetry reading and open mic series in Toronto..

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BWS Bonus Content: Farzana Doctor Interviews Daniel Perry

2015.HS.DAN.PERRY.016_CONTRAST.jpg

Daniel Perry is the author of the short story collections Hamburger (Thistledown, 2016) and Nobody Looks That Young Here (Guernica, 2018). His fiction has been short-listed for the Carter V. Cooper Prize, and has appeared in more than 30 publications in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. the Czech Republic. Dan lives in Toronto, and on Twitter @danielperrysays, and you might also know him as BWS’s co-host and blog co-ordinator.

He recently sat down and answered some interview questions instead of asking them!

Farzana: I was interested in how you structured the collection into the three parts of Coarse, Medium and Fine. What was your inspiration behind that?

Dan: Hamburger wasn’t written with a structure in mind: the oldest story in the book was drafted in 2006, published in 2010, and when in late 2013, I sent Thistledown Press this one and 11 more published stories that didn’t fit in my other collection (Nobody Looks That Young Here), I intended them for New Leaf Editions, Thistledown’s imprint that publishes first-time authors in 64-page books. To my surprise and elation, Thistledown asked if I had enough material for a full-length collection, so I finally fixed some abhamburger-1andoned drafts and wrote some new ones, too, after which I found myself with 23 stories—one a single sentence, one nearly 40 pages long, and the rest landing somewhere between—and no idea how make more than nine years of wildly different material “flow”. In the end, I settled on length: I knew “Hamburger” had to be the first story, so my thinking was that stacking the shortest pieces up front might build some momentum for the reader. “Hamburger” ends on the image of a grinder, so I came to think of these flashes as the coarse grind, a kind of “first pass” over the material. “Medium” came to represent the medium-length pieces once I realized that the only place I could possibly put the very long, detailed, historical “Three Deaths of James Arthur Doole” was at the end of the book; it seemed to make sense to call this fullest story the finest grind.

Farzana: I savoured the microfiction, reading these really short stories the way I would poetry. I needed to pause after each, and process the feelings and thoughts that arose. One question that recurred was about the alchemy of the ending. How do you decide when and how to end stories that are so short?

Dan: Microfiction (or “flash”) is, to me, a form that deals with a moment. At the risk of over-simplifying, in a lot of these pieces the stimulus simply stops: in “Eclipse”, the cathedral bells stop ringing; or in “The Locked Out”, the main character’s done all he can think to do for the moment and he has to just sit down and wait.

Farzana: Just for fun, show us a photo of your writing space.

Dan: I contemplated cleaning up first, but that would misrepresent how it actually looks most of the time… Surly cat included…

img_20161002_223321

Farzana: I noticed that writers appear in a number of the short stories. Can you tell me about this choice and what it’s like to be a writer writing about writers?

Dan: In other interviews etc. around Hamburger, one discussion topic has been characters’ relationships to their work. For writers, “inspiration” plays such a small role compared to actually doing the writing: the crafting, the shaping, the whittling; the attempt to say exactly what you mean, to make some little thing perfect so that someone else might find it beautiful. It’s a lot less romantic than a lot of people who don’t write think it is. If I can mix metaphors, it reminds me of the proverbial sausage factory: the cliché is, “You won’t like sausage once you’ve seen how it’s made,” but who says that sausage-making isn’t interesting? I’ve always liked writers as characters and the porous fourth walls in Henry Miller’s novels or the last line of Charles Bukowski’s Post Office (“Maybe I’ll write a novel, I thought. And then I did.”). Maybe part of it is some kind of self-affirmation, some acceptance of the idea that people (yes, people like me, too!) actually try to make a living writing fiction. Myself, I’ve been lucky, in the sense that I have university degrees and a job and haven’t found myself starving in Paris or Brooklyn scrounging for any buck I could get (nor down-and-out drunk in L.A., for that matter…), but I think the writer’s labour is as interesting and valid to depict in fiction as any work that people do.

Farzana: How did you research the stories that take place outside of Canada? Do you have a favourite research/travel experience that came from writing this collection?

Dan: I have visited a lot of the places that appear in the stories, though not all of them, and certainly not in the day-to-day, neighbourhood detail of the Cleveland of “Chaser” or the Philadelphia of “Rocky Steps”. A completely factual scene I could point to would be the glimpse in “Vaporetto” at the perplexed tourist family of four in the square in Venice. I don’t claim that I could read the parents’ mind, but they just looked so lost. I couldn’t imagine what it was like to arrive at a dream destination, a can’t-miss stop on an Italian vacation, only to realize there was nothing there for your young children… so, later, I sat down and imagined it.

Farzana: Work, and the drudgery connected to it, is prominent in a number of the stories. In an interview for Pages Unbound, you shared some of your early and strange jobs which included chicken loader, gas station guard for your father, and knitting store cashier with your mother. Which past jobs most influenced this collection?

Dan: Oddly, the industry that I think appears most in the book is one I never worked in, food service. (Though I was hired to deliver pizzas once: it was minus 30 on my first day, my shitbox car wouldn’t start, and I got fired.) The service industry comes up a lot in the book, too, with museum and tour guides, nannies and landscapers as well. My interest in these kinds of jobs might come from the fact that a lot of the time, a lot us don’t consider these workers as the people they are, but merely as the conduit to the service, food, etc. that we want. I think it’s the feeling of invisibility or interchangeability that comes with so much entry-level work that influences the stories more than any specific job(s) I’ve worked. It says a lot to me that one can feel these same feelings across many jobs in many sectors.

Farzana: Just for fun, write a haiku about your current job.

Dan: Fun for whom? The last thing I’d call myself is a poet…

“Beer makes you sexy”
No. “Sexy people drink this.”
Commercial’s approved.

Farzana: In the acknowledgements, you mention a personal connection that inspired the final story in your collection, “Three Deaths of James Arthur Doole”. This got me curious about whether there are any other personal connections that were inspirations to the other stories. Care to share one?

Dan: “Be Your Own Master” was born of a terrifying dream I had about trying to get rid of a loaded gun. It went through a lot of changes before it became a proper story, but hopefully some of that base fear is still in it.

Farzana: You have another book coming out in 2018 with Guernica Editions. Tell us about that project.

Dan: Nobody Looks That Young Here is a second short story collection, though with the exception of a new story I added to it this spring, it was the first one I finished. The collection revolves around one family in small-town Southwestern Ontario and a male child’s upbringing and coming-of-age, and taken together the stories form a larger narrative kind of like a novel might.

Farzana: What are you working on now?

Dan: I’m about 20,000 words into a novella (or if it goes well: a novel) about a pretty regular guy who moves into a new apartment then starts getting nightly visits from a paranormal entity of some kind. I’ve also started mapping out a Canadian Writer Contractual Obligation Tragicomic Hockey Novel™ that I’m quite looking forward to starting.

10924159_10155119358340704_2745966143424118938_oFarzana Doctor lives in Toronto and is the author of the novels All InclusiveSix Metres of Pavement, which won the 2012 Lambda Literary Award and was short-listed for the Toronto Book Award, and Stealing Nasreen. She was named one of CBC Books’ “Ten Canadian Women Writers You Need to Read Now” and received the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Grant. You probably also know Farzana as co-founder and curator of the Brockton Writers Series.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BWS 11.09.16: Ten Tips, with Natasha Powell

Natasha Powell Headshot

Natasha Powell is a Toronto-based dancer, choreographer, producer, and the Interim Dance & Literary Officer at the Toronto Arts Council.  A Toronto native, Natasha is a dedicated member of the local performing arts community and has worked for a number of arts organizations including the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, ManifesTO Festival for Community and Culture, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, and Volcano Theatre. As an independent dance artist, Natasha has successfully produced and choreographed shows in the Toronto Fringe Festival, TD Bank’s Then and Now Series, and Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps series. Most recently she was the Manager of Producing and Administration at the Dance Umbrella of Ontario, working with a number of dance organizations where her portfolio included event producing, marketing, fundraising and communications for companies including Dusk Dances and MOonhORsE Dance Theatre.

Natasha gave the talk “Best Practices in Grant Writing” at our September 2016 event, and here provides 10 tips for applying for grants.

1. Call the Officer to determine eligibility
Whether you’re a first time applicant or have applied to the council previously, it is helpful to speak with the Program Officer to confirm that you and/or your organization are eligible to apply, and that the proposed project is also eligible.

FOR WRITERS

2. Make sure your project description is clear
Your project description is where you tell the assessors what it is you’re writing about. Provide as much detail as possible about structure, which draft you are on, where this sample fits into the project, etc.

3. Submit your strongest material – not what you think a jury will fund
You can never predict what the jury will say. Juries change every time, and are all quite different. Focus on submitting your strongest writing from the proposed project and nothing else.

4. Submit a sample of the current project you are working on
Jurors want to see a sample of the current work, not a past work.

5. Use the entire allotment for the writing sample
The Toronto Arts Council asks for a maximum of 15 pages for prose and 10 pages for poetry, so use as much of the space as you can. Even though many adjudicators have a strong sense of their assessment of the writing on the first page, they do keep reading on.

FOR LITERARY PROJECTS

6. Review the assessment criteria
Each application is different – remember to review the application criteria to ensure you understand how the adjudicators will be assessing the applications.

7. Focus on your art and describing what it is you do
Do not present a marketing package, and refrain from comparing your work to that of others. Connect who you are to the specific project that you are applying for, and how it relates to your organization.

8. Be specific about as many details as possible
Don’t leave the adjudicators with unanswered questions. For example, be as clear as possible about what it is you’re doing, who is involved and why, who your target audience is, and how you are going to reach them. Same thing for your budget – explain which revenues are pending and confirmed, and how your project will move forward should you not be able to achieve your projected revenue goals.

9. Write in your own voice with minimal jargon
Your application is often being adjudicated by other artists in your discipline, so explain your project as though you are talking to your peers who know nothing about your work or project.

10. Ask for feedback and keep going
Whether your application was successful or unsuccessful, call the officer for feedback, and take the results – positive or negative – with a grain of salt. Competition is high, and feedback is helpful for future applications so keep pursuing your projects.

Check back after our next event for another 10 tips from our next guest speaker–and before that, see you at our next event: November 9, 6:30pm,  at full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized