Sunday, December 19, 2010

Attention, please.

I'm trying to ride out the gloomy come-down from the launch/touring high, the gnawing, "what next?" feeling, by clinging to any review or kind word in reference to Vs. And there have been a few.

First, a very nice review by the talented Jennifer Still in Free Press (my first and last name in the headline!).

Then, a mention in Bookslut, where blogger Colleen Mondor looked at the poems in a YA context, something I'd never really thought about before. She says, "If I had my way, I would be standing on a street corner handing this to every teenage girl, especially those that walk hidden behind walls of hair, dressed in oversized sweatshirts and hunched under overpowering backpacks." And then goes on to: "mostly what I want to say is that it is honest and real and celebrates taking on a tough commitment in a way that should speak to anyone who ever hesitated on the edge of the room and dreamed of taking center stage."

Awww! You can read her full review here (with some scrolling.)

And then, this week, the brilliant Kerry Clare, with whom I am proud to share a name and the table of contents in the most recent TNQ, included Vs. on her list of top 15 books of the year. How lovely! (And what amazing company!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

tour de verse

Thanks to Anvil, and the swell folks who work there, I've been hither and yon the last little while, promoting Vs.. The awesome (albeit non-linear) book tour took me, and the other writers launching with Anvil this fall (Tony, Ed, Salvatore and Bonnie), to Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.


Here I am, reading in Toronto at The Garrison. (There was a stage and a green room!) Luckily I was up first, before the front row ruffian was got completely tanked. (Do you call it heckling when someone laughs ridiculously loudly, at Every Single Thing, to the point that it's no longer supportive, just distracting?)

I read, I signed and, even amid the whirlwind, I saw some sights, ate wonderful food (Montreal bread! Wonderful Sri Lankan in Toronto! Bakers market in Vancouver!), and best of all got to spend time with family, far-flung Winnipeg friends, poets I met last year in Banff with whom I workshopped many of the poems, and writers from all over.

It was exciting (the air travel, the hotels) and made me feel like a real writer. But, back home in Winnipeg, all I can think is: "now what?"

Learned on tour:
  • Mont Royal Park is overrun with pushy gangs of pan-handling squirrels. Seriously. It's worse than walking past Portage Place, because of the distinct possibility one will run up the inside of your pant leg.
  • Peter Mansbridge wears a pinky ring. Also, he has a lot more hair than you'd expect (it's on the sides and back).
  • Everything at the Vancouver Airport's Westjet terminal closes at 6pm on Saturday. Even the RELAY. Pack a sandwich.

Seen on tour:
  • Pug eating bacon, wearing vintage aviator goggles, in bicycle sidecar. (I saw plenty of other things as well -- like a crow eating a rat, massive redwoods in Stanley Park, and a gang of skateboarding Santas -- but nothing else really compared to this little guy.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

blast off!

I launched Vs. at McNally Robinson Booksellers on Nov. 4th to the world's best, kindest and most-attentive audience. Everyone laughing in the right spots and pin-drop quiet in between.

When I was finished, they clapped for a long time, then swarmed the signing table and said nice things.

I signed, and signed and signed (completely illegibly, of course). And the good people paid good money for my little book.

Which resulted in: bingo! #1! Not that I STAYED on the best seller list, mind you. But still...

Thanks to everyone who came out to the launch -- or who wanted to but couldn't due to germs or other emergencies/commitments -- and/or who have already bought a copy of the book. And thanks to McNally's for being so organized, supportive, and just all-'round great hosts. And thanks to Anvil, of course, for everything, and especially the wine.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

button up!

The buttons are here! The buttons are here!

Now I'll put all my energy into willing the book to arrive....

Friday, October 29, 2010


It's been a busy week for interviews, as I get ready to launch Vs. It's so heartening that people want to support the book and help promote the launch. And, it's so much fun to talk about writing.

Just finished a chat with Uptown's book writer for an upcoming piece about Vs. and last night I did an unrelated-to-Vs.-but-I-managed-to-get-a-plug-in interview with The New Quarterly for their blog. More on both of those as they're available.

In the the meantime, here's the interview I did earlier this week with the lovely Writers' Collective blogger Kate Vermette.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In my launch box...

Lovin' my launch poster, designed by Jeope. I'll be posting a few in strategic locations in the next couple of days. We just sent a design for buttons off to the button factory too. They should be in next week. Whee!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

MASH note

I unabashedly love MASH. (Specifically the TV version, seasons 1 through 3.)

Watching reruns was an important 10pm family tradition and it was a huge milestone when I, youngest child, was FINALLY old enough to stay up and join everyone else on the chesterfield, instead of just listening to the laughter wafting up the stairs.

It's funny, but it has only lately occurred to me that I can write poems about whatever I like. So, during this year's May Day, I worked on a series about MASH. It started with a letter to Hawkeye, whom I still crush on, and grew into a cluster of notes to the characters, reflecting on the role they played in my life, updating them on what I'm up to, and asking all of the questions I've been curious about. I read a couple of them at an open mic at the Nightengale Lounge when we were in NYC earlier this year.

It was probably the most fun I've had writing. And, this week, The Antigonish Review offered a home for four of them.

It'll be my first time in TAR and I'm so excited for, and proud of, my little poems. But, I'm slightly heartbroken over Henry and Trapper, who didn't make the cut. Oh, how under-appreciated they have always been.

MASH reruns have been off the air (at least for us non-cable subscribers) for almost 20 years, but tune in to TAR to see Hawkeye, Hotlips, Frank and Radar in print.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Age of Aq-kerry-ious

Here I am, either whistling, or saying "who," during my Soap Box series reading at Aqua this week.

It was a small-but-pleasant crowd at my first official event as Aqua's writer in residence. I read exclusively from Vs., mostly poems I hadn't read in public before, just to try 'em out.

A few garnered finger-snapping (from a big city Yankee in the audience who took part in the open mic portion with some pretty polished spoken word pieces) but otherwise the audience was spookily quiet. Where's Colin Smith when you need him?

I had a couple of positive comments after, but it's always hard to gauge reaction by people's facial expressions during a reading. I imagine at least four people were thinking "when is she going to be done so I can read my poem?" and at least as many: "when is she going to stop talking about boxing, already?"

Of course, even though I was scrambling to fill my 20 minutes, I still managed to forget to thank people for coming, give background info about the book, or announce the date of my launch. Oh well.

This coming Tuesday will be the first meeting of my Writers' Support Group, the other part of my WIR gig. Looking forward to it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I've been fine-tooth-combing galleys this week and it's fun to put my nit-picky nature to good use. It's also ridiculously thrilling to see Vs. looking like a real book.

I'll be reading from Vs. next Tuesday at Aqua. Please come! And yes, that IS right in the middle of Thin Air, on the night the rest of the world will be hearing David Bergen and Ken Finkleman. My event, however, is free. Thanks to Ariel, and her nudge-nudge, wink-wink Free Press connection, for getting my mug in the Tab today. My co-worker clipped it and now it's on the fridge at the office.

I guess I'll have to get used to the tough competition... apparently I booked my launch for the same night cult film legend John Waters is speaking in Winnipeg. Sigh. November 4th, McNally's IS the place to be.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I accidentally spilled a few beans earlier this week. I got some exciting news from a certain wonderful lit mag and I shared it far and wide (read: on facebook and even here, though I promptly deleted the post). Not a big deal, but I won't say any more about it until October.

As a writer I find myself waiting around a lot -- trying to forget I have submissions out there, being judged or, more likely, sitting in stacks of papers on some editor's desk. I check my e-mail a gazillion times a day and open my mailbox with age-8-Christmas-morning anticipation. There's almost never anything there except pizza flyers and coupons from my good friend Diane.

And then, some days there's a letter in the mailbox addressed to me, in my own hand-writing. Which means trouble. Maybe it's just me, but I've never received an acceptance letter in my own SASE. Only bad news comes at my own hand. At least it's mail.

Lately any good news has been coming by e-mail, which makes it all the more surreal. (And fills me with self-doubt: maybe the editor sent the note to the wrong address. Maybe he/she cut and pasted the wrong message, maybe any second now I'll get a second e-mail with the subject line: Disregard Previous Message.)

So when good news comes, I get ridiculously excited. I can't stop grinning. I phone my husband, breathlessly, at work. I whistle for an hour or so. I post it on facebook. (And then re-read the e-mail 6 or 7 times just to make sure it says what I think it does.)

But what surprises me most is how quickly I can absorb that full-on glee and then go back to checking the mailbox or inbox as if it never happened. You'd think the glow would last a while, say 24 hours. But it doesn't. What's up with that? Has my attention span been stunted by too much internet use? Are my expectations for myself ridiculously high? I'm not blase about publishing -- I consider myself very green in this regard and I love seeing my name in print.

Or is it just that good news, a "yes", doesn't feel real until I'm holding it in my hand?

Also does anyone else get hiccups when eating carrots? What's up with that?

Friday, August 27, 2010

OK, it's p-CHAW, k-CHAW.

I'm glad it didn't occur to me at the time, but the crowd last night at Pecha Kucha was probably the biggest one I've read to. The Park was packed -- all seats filled and lots of people standing at the back. Pin-drop quiet, too.

It felt good reading; haven't done one in a while. I read five poems from Vs., which I chose from different parts of the manuscript to work as a narrative of the overall story. Then I spent the last minute and a half talking about boxing and the book. It was that last part that made me most nervous but I neither ran out of time nor had a gaping silence after I'd finished, so I consider that a success.

The slides Jeope made were great; I kept wishing I could watch them as I spoke. He used the interior illustrations he did for the book, some photos from my fight, a few quotes that I sourced about writing and boxing, etc.

I had some nice comments afterward, which was heartening since it's mainly a visual arts crowd and I wasn't sure how sympathetic they'd be to a writer. Makes me hopeful that people will like the book.

Not that it was all about me. The bill also included photographer Ian McCausland talking about his Facebook Friends Foto events (he graciously let me use mine for my book jacket, btw), the architect of The Cube, a local playwright and actress narrating some real or imagined context for vintage photos, a guy who makes iphone apps, twin business owners and all manner of other artsy folks. The next one is on November 19th. Check it out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Don't ask me how to pronounce it...

... but Thursday is the third installment of Pecha Kucha, a snazzed up slideshow thingamabob put on by the Graphic Designers of Canada Winnipeg branch, to which I’m related by marriage.

It’s at the Park Theatre August 26th, starting at 8:20 (Yes, you read that right. Designers are very particular.) And it’s free. I’ve been to the other two events and they’ve been awesome – I’ve learned about the history of the Aero bar wrapper, seen pictures of some crazy public art projects and heard about a bunch of other techy stuff that I didn’t really understand in the first place, but found entertaining nonetheless.

You should come. And not just because I’ll be on stage.

I’m twisting the 20 slides for 20 seconds format for my own purposes and treating it as a poetry reading with pictures. I’ll be shamelessly promoting my new collection and it’ll be the first time I’ve read most of these poems to an audience.

Just to keep it in the family, Jeope will MC. He also made my slides. (And book cover, and interior illustrations, for that matter.) He’s good that way.