The Press Gallery

K.I. Press on writing • literature • publishing

Category: Red River College/CreComm

My Summer of Magazines

Since I’m now actually forgetting what other books I’ve read for “fun” in the past year, I’m going to move on to what I read last summer for not exactly fun, but not exactly work: many, many magazines.

Now, mostly, reading magazines falls into the category of fun. Lately, my magazine of choice has been the iPad edition of Intelligent Life, the arts-and-culture arm of The Economist. This is a magazine with such good writing that it can get away with articles like (I’m paraphrasing here) “Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall: Which is the Best Season?” Seriously. The iPad edition is, currently, free, thanks to the fine sponsorship of its sole advertiser, Credit Suisse, a business I have absolutely no hope of patronizing. (This makes me wonder why they haven’t enabled location-specific licensing on this baby, but I’m not complaining.)

But the thing with reading for fun is that if you multiply it by a gazillion, it becomes work. Ask anyone who has taken a course in the Victorian novel.

This past summer, I was on the jury for Manitoba Magazine Publishers’ Association Maggie Awards. So, I read approximately one gazillion magazines. Some things I learned:

  • Old-fashioned binders full of paper—many binders, and boxes, full of paper–are difficult to use while travelling.  I would have liked some PDFs. Chalk another one up for the iPad.
  • Despite the awesomeness of magazines, I should probably stop volunteering for extra duties that involve filling out evaluation sheets.
  • Columnists rule! There were, of course, some brilliant, informative, and moving feature articles in the competition, but my favourite reading of the summer—and hence, one of the hardest things to judge–was definitely the “Best Column” category.
  • Yes, I really am an industry professional! Sometimes, working in the classroom, I start to doubt whether or not I have some grip on reality—though that’s partly because I carry around a lot of self-doubt in general. So an exercise like this was great if only to experience how my opinions—of magazines, in this case—echoed those of the other members of the jury. Other industry professionals agree: I’m not crazy.

I’m writing this now because the students in my program are working hard on their magazine projects now, and I am, as always, excited to see their prototype magazines. If you’re in Winnipeg, come down to the college (160 Princess Street) between 12 and 4 on Thursday, March 28, to see the results of their creative labour. And many thanks to the Manitoba Magazine Publishers’ Association for again sponsoring the awards at the end of the project–and to the Manitoba magazine professionals who will be judging the students’ efforts.

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Books, bountiful and rare

So, a little over a week ago, we ordered Chinese food. My fortune read thusly:

"Something interesting will happen soon at work."

My fortune

In case you can’t read that terrible photo, it says, “Something interesting will happen soon at work.” Or, on the French side of the fortune, “Il se produira bientôt au travail quelque chose d’intéressant.”

Now, “interesting” is a weak, sickly and slippery word, so this fortune struck nervousness into my heart. A little bit. As Mindy says to Homer, “Desserts aren’t always right.” (It’s in the episode with Michelle Pfeiffer guest starring, for those who can’t quite remember the line.)

The next day at work, I got a mysterious email message from a new college librarian I’d never met before, saying there was a gift he wanted to give me that he’d had for a few years, and now that we were colleagues, he thought he should give it to me, sorry if this sounds creepy, etc.

The thorough LinkedIn background check I performed revealed only an affinity for books, and for rare books in particular, so I quickly assented to a meeting, despite feeling at the mercy of a fortune cookie.

It turned out I was gifted with the best surprise I’ve had in a long time: a copy of Henry J. Morgan’s 1903 illustrated biographical dictionary Types of Canadian Women. Volume 1.

Nearly six years ago, my book Types of Canadian Women—Volume 2—was published. It’s a mock biographical dictionary in poems and poetic prose, inspired, you guessed it, by Morgan’s Volume 1. I talked about the source material in the publishers’ bumpf, and in some interviews at the time. Morgan’s book says a Volume 2 was in the works, but, having never found trace of one, I thought I’d just have to write it.

Types of Canadian Women title page

Types of Canadian Women title page, with lovely 1903 print ads opposite.

I’d been in Winnipeg for about a year when Types came out. But our mysterious new librarian, Matthew Handscombe, was still in Toronto, where I’d written all but the last few drafts of the book–partly on Toronto Island at the fantastic Gibraltar Point centre, partly in a second-floor apartment in a Victorian brick oven in Parkdale, with no air-conditioning, one summer on a Canada Council grant.

Matthew was operating a tiny bookshop specializing in fine press books. My publisher, Gaspereau Press, does some pretty fine printing, so Matthew had no doubt seen my book in the catalogue, probably read one of the interviews, and may have been familiar with my earlier Gaspereau release, Spine, which contained, among other things, poems about fine printing. Somehow, my reference to Morgan’s Volume 1 stuck in his brain.

I used to consult Volume 1 in the Robarts Library at the University of Toronto, as part of my work as a researcher on Canadian history books and book proposals. The Robarts had a circulating copy, and while I was aware of a few copies on offer from book dealers, even after I’d fallen for the book and decided to write Volume 2, acquiring my own copy—which dealers listed for around $300—had never become a priority.

Still with me? Let’s get back to Matthew Handscombe, who, somewhere in the depths of his brain, catalogued this detail about my interest in this book.

A spread from Morgan's Types of Canadian Women, Volume 1: the book responsible for inflicting 50 of my poems on the world.

(Wait, I have to digress again to say how much I like librarians. There’s Wendy, with whom I hung out during my M.A. in Ottawa, and now works at Memorial University Newfoundland; my sister Christine who works at the library in the Law Courts in Edmonton and is finishing her MLS on the side; Brian in the cubicle opposite mine who teaches in the library tech program–Hi Brian!; his colleague Tabitha whose CanLit class I once bombarded with my collection of obscure–duh–Canadian poetry chapbooks. I used to think librarianship was my lost calling, but then remembered that I promised myself, after paying off my student loans, never to go to university again. In short–go visit your library.)

Matthew’s father, Richard Handscombe, taught linguistics and children’s literature at York University (scroll down the linked page for bio), and was an avid book collector. Though significant parts of his collection were donated to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the U of T—particularly a collection of over a thousand items by and about John Cowper Powys and his brothers—when Richard died, Matthew was left with a massive number of books to find homes for. Thirteen thousand, I think, was the number he told me (he’ll correct me if I’m wrong. Right?).

Types of Canadian Women was not, alas, lurking in the collection. But slowly, as Matthew and his family donated or sold books, he started to acquire things from the dealers, essentially doing part of the transaction in trade, with the intention of gifting specific books to individuals. It was at Greenfield Books here in Winnipeg that Matthew saw Types of Canadian Women and acquired it, somehow remembering that I, a writer he’d never met, had wanted it. It never occurred to him that I was also living in Winnipeg, until he noticed that I was a colleague at Red River College, where he’s only recently arrived.

Matthew styled the gift as a present from his father. I never met Richard Handscombe, and Matthew had never met me when he picked up this book and put it aside. I ran back to my office to get Matthew a copy of my little Volume 2, as an inadequate thank-you.

Types of Canadian Women Volumes 2 and 1

Types of Canadian Women Volumes 2 and 1

This post has gone on too long, and there is much I still want to research and write about: how books end up in rare book collections (my books are all in the Fisher, I can only assume by virtue of being Canadian small press books); more about Matthew’s father and his collection; how all this talk of book collecting reminds me of my father-in-law, Martin Levin, and his house filled with books; how Morgan’s Volume 1 will read to me now, years after I left my project behind on the poetry circuit; and how none of this would happen in a world where books are infinitely reproducible.

Jonathan Garfinkel with Daniella Ponticelli

The CreComm Reading Series presents

Jonathan Garfinkel with Daniella Ponticelli • April 6 • 7 p.m. • Aqua Books • 274 Garry St.

Jonathan Garfinkel • April 7 • 12 noon • RRC Roblin Centre at the Exchange District Campus • Room A104

Jonathan Garfinkel is the author of a book of poetry, Glass Psalms (Turnstone Press, 2005) and several plays, including Walking to Russia, The Trials of John Demjanjuk: A Holocaust Cabaret and
House of Many Tongues. His memoir, Ambivalence: Crossing the Israel/Palestine Divide (Penguin Canada 2007), has been published in five countries, and his plays have been produced across Canada and Germany. He is the recipient of numerous residencies, including a year-long fellowship at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany. He also won the KM Hunter Award for Emerging Artists in 2008. Jonathan currently divides his time between Toronto and Berlin.

Daniella Ponticelli is a first-year Creative Communications student at Red River College. Aside from writing courses at university, most of her writing comes from late night inspirations and Sunday afternoon surprises. Visit her blog Cre.ature Feed, where she posts poetry, fiction, and quirky insights.

 

•••

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts
which last year invested $20.1 million in writing and publishing throughout Canada.

Nous remercions de son soutien le Conseil des Arts du Canada,
qui a investi 20,1 millions de dollars l’an dernier dans les lettres et l’édition à travers le Canada.

GEC, Readings, Opportunities and Miscellany

Lazy Miscellaneous Post Alert!

CreCommers Reading

Amanda Hope of The Hope Files is organizing an all-CreComm reading over at Aqua Books at 4 pm, Saturday, Feb. 26. Sign up to read if you haven’t already! Talk to Amanda. And if you don’t want to read, come out to support everyone–a lot of the readers will be CreCommers just finishing their Creative Writing IPPs. And I’m told the bar will be open. (But don’t blame me if something goes wrong and it’s actually not.)

Mondo!Clarke still on

There’s still time to catch GEC! That’s George Elliott Clarke, and anyone who took CanLit from me or Chris Petty this year will be well aware of the man behind George and Rue. It’s all GEC all the time this week at Aqua Books during the Mondo!Clarke festival. Events you can still catch include GEC as the guest Friday night at Kelly Hughes Live!, a screening of GEC-penned film One Heart Broken Into Song (Clément Virgo, 1999) Saturday afternoon, and the Winnipeg Talking Radio Orchestra rendition of GEC’s opera
Beatrice Chancy Saturday night.

Readings Thanks

Many thanks to Julie Wilson, Jason Booth, Matt Duggan, Greg Berg, and everyone who helped out with the Julie Wilson and Matt Duggan visits earlier this month. Check out the first-year CreComm reactions on their blogs, via the CreComm Blog Network.

Two Reposts

Something I’ve been asked to repost: still space in Myrna Kostash’s creative non-fiction class at the CMU School of Writing this May.

Second repost is this opportunity from the Writers’ Collective: they’re looking for a Program Coordinator.

The Gemini Unjournal

This year’s installment of The Gemini Unjournal is now on. February to April, my Advanced Creative Writing class gives you a peek into the workshop by choosing each others’ writing to post with a brief introduction. Last year’s posts are also still up.

I’m sure I had more things on my list, but that’s lots for one lazy post. Have a good Reading Week!

Julie Wilson with Jason Booth

February 9 • Julie Wilson • Evening reading 7 p.m. • with Jason Booth • Aqua Books • 274 Garry St.

February 10 • Julie Wilson • College reading 11 a.m.• RRC Roblin Centre at the Exchange District Campus • Room A104

Julie Wilson is a professional publishing fan, writer and blogger. The literary voyeur behind the SeenReading.com and the editor of BookMadam.com, she thinks reading looks good on you. She’s also the author of Truly, Madly, Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion (ECW Press) written as Becca Wilcott. Follow Julie on Twitter: @BookMadam @SeenReading

Jason Booth is a graduate of the Creative Communications program. His poetry has been published in The Collective Consciousness, the quarterly journal of The Manitoba Writer’s Collective and the Winnipeg Free Press. He resides in Winnipeg with his wife and percolator.


Matt Duggan with Greg Berg

The Red River College Creative Arts Department

with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts

presents

Matt Duggan • February 4 • 10 a.m  • Room P107 • 160 Princess Street • Red River College Roblin Centre at the Exchange District Campus

Matt Duggan with Greg Berg • February 4 • 7 p.m. • Aqua Books • 274 Garry St.

Matt Duggan graduated from Churchill High School and yet he is delighted to be visiting Winnipeg to read from his most recent novel Cherry Electra. His previous novel, The Royal Woods, is a tall tale for children set in a new suburban subdivision of a prairie city. It was nominated for The Moonbeam Award and the Silver Birch Award. Cherry Electra is about a dirty cottage weekend that culminates in murder. Quill and Quire call it “a satisfying bit of cottage-country gothic”, and the Toronto Star says it “has the delirious quality of a wreck recollected”, and claims that “it’s rare to come across something that is both so sadly astute and so infectiously, vibrantly witty.” The Globe and Mail depicts the novel as “a drug fuelled fratricide” and listed it as one of the Top One Hundred Books of 2010. An anonymous blogger on Amazon call it “one of the most un-Canadian novels I have ever read.” The Winnipeg Free Press didn’t seem to care for the book at all. Cherry Electra is essentially a love story. Matt Duggan teaches high school in Toronto and writes in his basement.

Greg Berg is a transplanted Saskatchewanian living in Manitoba. He is also an aspiring YA writer and full-time communications student upgrading his skills to reenter the working world. He likes CBC, PBS, IFC and enjoys making, and occasionally drinking, different varieties of wine.

 

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts
which last year invested $20.1 million in writing and publishing throughout Canada.

Nous remercions de son soutien le Conseil des Arts du Canada,
qui a investi 20,1 millions de dollars l’an dernier dans les lettres et l’édition à travers le Canada.

CreComm Reading Series

I’m pleased to announce the CreComm Reading Series hosted by Red River College Creative Arts. The support of the Canada Council for the Arts has allowed us to bring writers of all genres from outside of Winnipeg into town share their work with students and the public alike.

Each reader will read twice, once at the college during the day, and again at Aqua Books (274 Garry St.) in the evening. Evening readings will feature opening acts by present and former CreComm creative writers.

Daytime readings are in the Roblin Centre at the Exchange District Campus
Red River College, 160 Princess Street.

February 4 • Matt Duggan • College reading 10 a.m  • Room P107

February 4 • Matt Duggan • Evening reading 7 p.m. • with Greg Berg

Matt Duggan graduated from Churchill High School and yet he is delighted to be visiting Winnipeg to read from his most recent novel Cherry Electra. His previous novel, The Royal Woods, is a tall tale for children set in a new suburban subdivision of a prairie city. It was nominated for The Moonbeam Award and the Silver Birch Award. Cherry Electra is about a dirty cottage weekend that culminates in murder. Quill and Quire call it “a satisfying bit of cottage-country gothic”, and the Toronto Star says it “has the delirious quality of a wreck recollected”, and claims that “it’s rare to come across something that is both so sadly astute and so infectiously, vibrantly witty.” The Globe and Mail depicts the novel as “a drug fuelled fratricide” and listed it as one of the Top One Hundred Books of 2010. An anonymous blogger on Amazon call it “one of the most un-Canadian novels I have ever read.” The Winnipeg Free Press didn’t seem to care for the book at all. Cherry Electra is essentially a love story. Matt Duggan teaches high school in Toronto and writes in his basement.

Greg Berg is a transplanted Saskatchewanian living in Manitoba. He is also an aspiring YA writer and full-time communications student upgrading his skills to reenter the working world. He likes CBC, PBS, IFC and enjoys making, and occasionally drinking, different varieties of wine.

February 9 • Julie Wilson • Evening reading 7 p.m. • with Jason Booth

February 10 • Julie Wilson • College reading 11 a.m.• Room A104

Julie Wilson is a professional publishing fan, writer and blogger. The literary voyeur behind the SeenReading.com and the editor of BookMadam.com, she thinks reading looks good on you. She’s also the author of Truly, Madly, Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion (ECW Press) written as Becca Wilcott. Follow Julie on Twitter: @BookMadam @SeenReading

Jason Booth is a graduate of the Creative Communications program. His poetry has been published in The Collective Consciousness, the quarterly journal of The Manitoba Writer’s Collective and the Winnipeg Free Press. He resides in Winnipeg with his wife and percolator.


April 6 • Jonathan Garfinkel • Evening reading 7 p.m. • opening reader TBA

April 7 • Jonathan Garfinkel • College reading 12 noon • Room A104

Jonathan Garfinkel is the author of a book of poetry,  Glass Psalms (Turnstone Press, 2005) and several plays, including Walking to Russia, The Trials of John Demjanjuk: A Holocaust Cabaret and
House of Many Tongues. His memoir, Ambivalence: Crossing the Israel/Palestine Divide (Penguin Canada 2007), has been published in
five countries, and his plays have been produced across Canada and Germany. He is the recipient of numerous residencies, including a
year-long fellowship at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany. He also won the KM Hunter Award for Emerging Artists in 2008. Jonathan currently divides his time between Toronto and Berlin.


Next October: Saleema Nawaz

Saleema Nawaz’s fiction has appeared in journals including Grain, The New Quarterly and PRISM International, and her short story “My Three Girls” won the 2008 Writers’ Trust of Canada / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. Her debut collection of short stories, Mother Superior, was released in Fall 2008.

•••

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts
which last year invested $20.1 million in writing and publishing throughout Canada.

Nous remercions de son soutien le Conseil des Arts du Canada,
qui a investi 20,1 millions de dollars l’an dernier dans les lettres et l’édition à travers le Canada.


Student Reading Hosted by David Elias

Monday, December 6, 4 pm
CGA Manitoba Room (P-107)
Red River College, Roblin Centre at the Exchange District Campus

CreComm Student Reading hosted by David Elias

Join the writers of CreComm and Writer-in-Residence David Elias at a presentation of student writing at 4 pm, Monday, December 6, in P-107.

Come hear some of the student work David has been reading in his month as Writer-in-Residence. Both first-year and second-year CreComm students who have consulted with David will read from their own work.

Everyone is welcome. If you’re a student who has submitted to David, or intends to submit next week, and you’d like to read, contact Karen to get on the list of readers.

Interview with Anita Daher

I interviewed Anita Daher, today’s CreComm guest speaker and Winnipeg writer extraordinaire, by email just before classes started–but decided to save it for when she arrived to speak about her extensive experience as a children’s writer. Note carefully her point about grammar and how editors roll their eyes!

1. What’s the fastest you’ve ever written a book (Describe – how fast, how many words in the end?)

Earlier on in my writing career I wrote much more quickly than I do now, however the fasted by far was Two Foot Punch. Because of an incorrect file transfer and a crashed hard drive I no longer have my draft manuscripts, so I can’t give you an exact word count. It wasn’t a long book—probably around 42,000 words. With an ok from my editor I began writing it in May of 2007. With great relief, I handed it in before my end-of-June deadline…only to be asked if I could rewrite the book from 3rd person to 1st person. I did, and still made the print deadline of August. It was published in October.

2. Your #1 top book recommendation for someone who wants to write for young readers.

Just one? Can’t do it! We all learn from reading others, and so I recommend we read books from other authors, particularly authors we admire, particularly authors who are writing in the genre we are most interested in. Beyond this, I must make three recommendations:

General reference: How to Write a Children’s Book and Get it Published, by Barbara Seuling. The material is well presented, touches on picture books, novels, and non-fiction, and offers guidance on query letters and submission packages.

General skills: Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. This book is meant for any writer, fiction or non-fiction, and offers terrific guidance on pacing, dialogue and originality.

From the department of “too often neglected”: Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty. This guide developed over time from the author’s web site, and is a quick and easy read—enjoyable, even. Too often we let our basic grammar skills slide, or maybe there are areas we were never 100% sure about to begin with. Make a few pages bedtime reading, and increase chances for publication. Stupid mistakes can cause editors to roll eyes, and we want to avoid that whenever possible.

3. You’ve become a horse person. What is so compelling for you about horses?

I love spending time with horses. They are reactive animals, which means when I am with my horse I need to have my mind completely on him so that I don’t miss subtle body language telling me that he is nervous about a scary bush, or annoyed (though my boy is rarely annoyed), or distracted in a way he might step on me. If my mind is completely on him, it is completely off the 24,000 other things going on in my life on any given day. It’s like a vacation. Also, I’ve learned contrary to what I thought when I was a teen, there is a lot more to riding than hopping on and saying “go.” It’s been a rush taking lessons (at my advancing age), and training my body to work all parts together in order to communicate well for a better riding experience.

4. What is your favourite brand and flavour of potato chip, and why?

Oooh…love hate relationship. I love potato chips, and I hate it that I love them. Right now I’d love to hate myself for snacking on (with love) Dutch Crunch kettle Cooked Jalapeño and Cheddar chips. Each one is an experience: loud, and bites back.

 

 

 

Up, Up, and Away!

Join Creative Communications Section 1 for the launch of I would be Lightning Man, Friday, November 5, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. at The Academy on Osborne – 437 Stradbrook Ave.

I would be Lightning Man is a collection of short stories, illustrations, and poetry submitted by people who answered the question, “If you could be a superhero, who would you be?”

http://www.lightningman.tumblr.com

 

 

Lightning Man

Lightning Man by Ethan, Grade 4 - Interlake School Division