Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

pvermeersch's blog

ANOTHER EMPTY CHAIR: SIMIN BEHBAHANI

A few days ago I wrote about how the Chinese government prevented poet Liao Yiwu from attending a literary festival in Cologne, Germany. It was the thirteenth time the totalitarian regime had prevented Mr. Liao from leaving the country. Yesterday, it happened again. This time to a woman. This time in Iran. It was reported that celebrated Iranian poet and feminist Simin Behbahani, often called "the lioness of Iran," was detained in Imam Khomeini Airport, her passport confiscated. She was scheduled to appear in Paris at an event celebrating International Women's Day.

"POEMS ARE NEITHER TRUE NOR FALSE; THEY ARE SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY"

Yesterday I received an email from a high school student in Peterborough who is analyzing my poem "Shadowing the Medivac" (from my first book) for an assignment in his English class. He wanted to know where the idea for the poem came from, and he also asked questions about the creative process in general.

FOUR ONLINE CANADIAN LITERARY JOURNALS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

It seems not too long ago that online literary journals were poor cousins to their established counterparts in print. In the age of dial-up connections and primitive web design, when almost everyone had a website on GeoCities or Angelfire, many writers considered online publishing to be crude and second rate. And who could blame them?

Queering Jason Kenney, Literary Style

Yesterday I wrote with some pride about the freedoms we enjoy in Canada and about the responsibilities of democratic citizenship. Then something was brought to my attention that diminished that pride and appealed desperately to that sense of responsibility. It was made public that our Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney did knowingly, willfully, and specifically order his staff to remove all mention of equal rights for gay and lesbian Canadians from a new edition of the Canadian citizenship guide.

THINKING ABOUT GERMANY, LIAO YIWU, AND EMPTY CHAIRS

Three years ago I was invited to participate in the Berlin Poetry Festival. I have many fond memories of that trip and still consider it one of the highlights of my writing life. It's a powerful thing to travel internationally in order to share your work with people -- with readers and writers -- from around the world. The invitation was an honour. The experience was unforgettable.

One of my classmates was mentioned in the Globe and Mail today.

Did I say "classmates"?

Yes I did.

A lot of people have asked me about my decision to go back to school to undergo MFA studies in creative writing with the University of Guelph. Some of them say, "But why are you doing an MFA? You already teach, or you're already an editor, or you've already been published."

I tell them, "Yes, but those things are not the point. Writing is the point."

I think a writer ought always to be learning, and oftentimes the learning that a writer undergoes is private; it comes from reading and self-study. Occasionally, though, there might be opportunities for other kinds of learning, in more formal and structured learning environments. When this kind of opportunity presented itself to me, in the form of the Guelph MFA, I jumped at the chance.

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