Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Adebe DeRango-Adem's blog

Writing "Well"

Illness spoils any story that desires a certain romanticism of adventure or self-discovery, the solitary act of Manifest Destiny. Many of history's beloved novels have entertained (and sometimes genuinely explored) what it means to have lost a sense of wellness, or be on a path towards self-destruction--in the sense of an existential, Sartrean nausea. But it becomes much more difficult to discuss the topic of physical destruction or decay. To be unwell and desire a sense of physical/psychological stability and balance above all makes the desire to champion a countercultural lifestyle seem petty. Authors might seek to change the shape of literature, but how can the literature shape the way people live, or can live?

A Day in the Life

Rise, water and fruit, spend about twenty minutes adjusting my spiritual frequency to the world. Think about the day and what it will entail. Recalibrate against the chaos if I've had strange dreams. Dream up what I'd like the rest of the day to look like. Sometimes I choose to read positive affirmations and meditations to begin my day, but it's most likely poetry (though arguably such kinds of writings are very much the same). Reading something that's not the daily news or social media helps refresh the mind and act as a reminder of the importance of seizing the day. Otherwise I think it would be mighty difficult to get one's creative gears flowing.

Happy Birthday, Jack

I would be beside myself if I didn't take a moment to write a birthday note to the late Jack Kerouac, who was born on this day (March 12, 1922–October 21, 1969) and to whom I owe much praise.

Yes of course his infamous On the Road affected the hearts and minds of many generations of young Western kids (including my own). I loved that he was the curious balance of enlightened and derailed, quiet and loud. I wrote about him in my first full-length poetry collection (Ex Nihilo, 2010) or more precisely, about meeting his taxi driving old friend who I was shocked to meet and who kindly drove me to his grave in the rain in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Writing as a Way "In"

I think many writers would agree that, in the beginning stages when we first pick up the pen, writing is a "way out" for us. It offers something therapeutic, or in more dramatic cases, the promise of salvation. Of course the reasons writers write are all so infinite, though it's hard to deny that the act itself is cathartic.

Nuance vs. Notoriety

For the longest time, I’ve been of the strong belief of the writerly life as associated with an either/or mentality: concision and painstaking precision, or, as writer Jack Kerouac would put it in his "Rules for Spontaneous Prose", "Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy."

Rethinking a Room of One’s Own

A room of one’s own, Virginia Woolf once famously wrote, is a necessary part of being able to write successfully for women, who could often not find such a thing, being loyal to a certain level of constant domesticity for others, a constant state of being-for-others. As I write this post, as not only a woman but a woman of colour, in this room of my own, a kaleidoscope of privileges take shape in my mind—I have a place/space to stay, forms of support, inhabit a “safe” part of town, do not endure many disturbances apart from regular duties of tending to the quotidian things; I can even play music (softly or loud) if it suits or fuels the writing; or I can take leisure in silence. It is a privilege to name any of these things.

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