BWS 11.11.15: Jess Taylor

Jess Taylor is a writer and poet based in Toronto. She is the founder of the Emerging Writers Reading Series and is the fiction editor of Little Brother Magazine. Jess’s work has been published in a variety of journals, magazines and newspapers including This MagazineCNQ and National Post. She won a Gold 2013 National Magazine Award in Fiction for her short story, “Paul”, the first story in her debut collection, Pauls, launched by BookThug earlier this week!IMG-20151013-00639

Kicking off BookThug’s 2015 fall launch, publisher Jay MillAr jokingly characterized the press as “the island of misfit toys”, laughing about the fact that a surprisingly high number of manuscript submissions come in with a cover letter beginning with “I’m sending you this because no other press would touch it with a ten-foot pole…”

But on the other hand, he noted, every book is chosen for an aesthetic reason, and the writers published are writers who take risks.

Jess Taylor is one of nine such writers who graced the stage at The Garrison Tuesday night, and her collection, Pauls, proved no exception to the rule.

In introducing the collection, for instance, her editor Malcolm Sutton asked, “Why obsess over all the possible names [for characters] when one will suffice?”. The collection, called Spokes in an earlier draft and connecting characters geographically, expands from a section of that book that Taylor refers to as “the Paul stories”, moving through Pauls of all walks of life, Pauls who are united by hurt and healing, love and loss, and–if you insist–by their names.

And Andrew Hood says of the collection: “The characters, Pauls or otherwise, are at the age or in a place in their life, where what they’re going through feels unique, as though they’re the first people to struggle with relationships, with health, with getting older. But the simple presence of a Paul serves to ground whatever the experience, tether it to something bigger. Like all those Matthews and Sarahs in everyone’s elementary school, the Pauls in Pauls appear as a reminder that as much as we are ourselves, we’re also a moving piece inconceivable machination, whether we want to be or not.”

Taylor praised her press for not being afraid to combine genres and experiment, and said she had long been interested in working with them before submitting Pauls, having first inquired about publishing a different book, that one a novel. The launch was especially enjoyable, she added, because it brought together a diverse audience–one larger than even some higher-profile events might draw.

This blogger agrees–didn’t you enjoy the launch? What’s that? You missed it?

Hot tip from Brockton Writers Series: we know just where you can find Jess on November 11.

Jess Taylor visits the Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC) – along with Loren Edizel, Terry Fallis, Allison LaSorda and a special guest talk by Andrea Thompson, “From Page to Stage: Spoken Word and the Art of Literary Performance”. 

Watch this space for more with each of our readers in the month leading up to the event!

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