Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Blair Trewartha's blog

Year in Review & What Titles I'm Looking Forward to

As my final post this month, I thought I’d share a brief list of six of my favourite books in 2015 and seven forthcoming in 2016. Obviously, these are narrow lists and there were tons of other worthy titles (including new upcoming books by Nyla Matuk and Julie Cameron Gray—No cover images or links were available yet), but the follwing were the collections I was most impressed by.
 
I’m really looking forward to 2016 and all the incredible poetry titles that are forthcoming. Thanks for tuning in and following along with my posts. And thank you to Open Book Toronto for providing such fantastic and generous opportunities to writers.
 
I hope everyone has a great New Year! Happy reading in 2016!
 
 
 

Playwright in Preview: Briana Brown

The last 31 days has been a great experience, and it’s been wonderful to include so many talented poets in my “Poet in Preview” series. However, I thought it’d be fun to genre hop a bit and include a writer from theatre since I’ve mostly focused on poetry and prose. Here’s a brief conversation I had with an extremely talented Toronto playright, Briana Brown.
 
 
 

On Poetry & Martial Arts: A Discussion of Parallels with Josh Stewart

When I first started planning my Open Book WIR, I had originally wanted to write an article that articulated the parallels between two art forms that have been part of my life since I was a teenager, karate and poetry. Unfortunately, it proved difficult. Partially due to constantly relocating to new cities, and partially due to chronic back problems and a rapidly developing ‘Dad Bod,’ I haven’t been actively involved in martial arts training since 2007. So, considering myself somewhat of a “has been” now, I decided I would talk to someone who was still actively involved in both karate and poetry. I wanted to see if they shared similar experiences of the two art forms and whether or not they saw the same parallels.

Poet in Preview: Julie Cameron Gray

BT: Hi Julie! First of all, you very recently had a brand new baby boy! Congratulations! Also, thanks for still managing to find time to chat with us.
 
In 2013, your debut collection Tangle was released by Tightrope Books and received a great deal of praise. More recently in 2015, you received an honourable mention in the Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Poetry competition for your poem Skinbyrds.
 

Lucid in the City of Himself: "The Book of Festus" by John Wall Barger

It is rare that you come across a book of poetry, or any book for that matter, that you read in one sitting, from cover to cover, and then immediately begin to read again. Even more rare is when it’s a text that you barely understood in the first place. Yet, this is what happened when I first cracked the pages of The Book of Festus by poet John Wall Barger (Palimpsest Press, 2015). Reading Festus on the subway was my first mistake. Although the commute is an hour and a half one-way, it wasn’t nearly long enough for such a collection (110 pages total).

Poet in Preview: Michael Prior

BT: Michael, in 2014 you released your first chapbook, Swan Dive, with Frog Hollow Press. Of course, before that chapbook was even published you were already a well-known, well-respected poet in the Canadian Poetry community, partially because you seemed to win every contest that you entered. You work hard, and you don’t seem to stop. In fact, after finishing your MA in English with a Creative Thesis at University of Toronto, you recently moved to Ithaca, New York where you’re now completing your MFA in creative writing at Cornell University.
 

Elemental Flux: Editing "The Essential D.G. Jones" (A Conversation with Jim Johnstone)

In 2014, Jim Johnstone published a selection of Earle Birney’s work as part of The Porcupine’s Quill’s Essential Poets series. Though he currently holds editorial positions at Palimpsest Press, Representative Poetry Online, and Anstruther Press, Johnstone recently committed to a second entry in the series, and is readying The Essential D.G. Jones for Fall 2016. I caught up with him as he was writing a critical introduction on the former Governor General’s Award winner’s work.
 
 
 
BT: I’d like to talk about editing The Essential D.G. Jones. First off, can you tell me a little bit about The Essential Poets series?
 

Pain Re-Presented as Possibility: A Conversation with Poet & Physician Shane Neilson

BT: You’re currently a poet/fiction writer, family physician, and PHD student in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. In your dissertation, “Damage, Weapons, and Medicine: Pain Re-Presented as Possibility,” you argue that pain can be transcendent rather than a negative experience. Anyone who has experienced severe or chronic pain would probably be skeptical. I think most would agree that pain changes you as it affects your mood, how you concentrate, your ability to socialize with other people, etc. but it's hard to imagine it as anything other than negative. How exactly can the bearer of pain "transcend?" What might that look like in concrete terms? How can it not default into the negative framework?
 

On Book Designing, Music, and Collaborating with Writers: A Discussion with Laura Boyle

BT: So, Laura, you’re a talented book designer with Dundurn Press in Toronto, and you’ve recently had two of your designs ranked in the top CanLit Book Covers of 2015 by CBC Books. (You can check out all the covers here)
 
Tell us about these two covers in particular. Why do you think these covers stood out to the judges?
 

Poet in Preview: Phoebe Wang

BT: Phoebe, you’re a talented poet, reviewer, and educator living in Toronto, and you also run an insightful blog where you post articles related to writing, two of which were incredibly well done: One titled “What to Grab Onto: A Newcomer’s Guide to Toronto’s Literary Huddle” and “You aren’t the only Winner,” which readers can find here
 
You also published a chapbook titled “Occasional Emergencies” by Odourless Press in 2013, and you’re currently finalizing your debut full-length collection of poems, some of which have recently appeared in several literary magazines including This Magazine, CV2, Grain, The Malahat Review, and Arc Poetry.
 

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