Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Introducing a Young Writer - Nemo Magnan

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Twenty-one year-old Nemo Magnan is already well on her way to achieving her dream of being a full time writer. I met this exceptional young lady while teaching at WordsWorth youth writing residency in my first year and now am very pleased to call her a friend. She’s someone to keep an eye out for. You’ll be seeing a lot of her in the years to come. So let me introduce to you:


KF: When did you start writing?

NM: Six like everyone else. For fun? Sixth grade so twelve-ish.

KF: Who or what influenced your writing?

NM: In prose mostly what I read growing up influenced my preference in genre. Harry Potter. The Hobbit. UnLunDun, The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Avalon. Books I read as an older individual influence the way I write more. For example Will Ferguson's 419 is a beautifully constructed piece of prose. As for poetry, I only started writing that after I graduated high school at 18. The Fugitives were a big influence of my poetry as were high level poets in the Calgary SLAM scene.

KF: What kinds of writing do you do?

NM: I write novels and SLAM poetry

KF: What is SLAM poetry and how does it work?

NM: SLAM poetry is a specific genre of performance poetry. It's often funny - though it doesn't have to be. The poem is performed (usually from memory) in front of an audience and judges. The poem must be less than 3 minutes. The poet can not use props, nudity, or musical accompaniment for the piece - though they can sing or beat box.

KF: What do you see as the main difference between a SLAM poetry and poetry at an open mic poetry reading or poems on the page?

NM: The genre. It's like what's the difference between sci-fi and other spec-fictions. There's just a certain feel to a SLAM poem that you don't see in other performed work and certainly not in page poetry. A SLAM poem should still work on the page, but there is depth added by the performance.

KF: What kinds of things do you like to write poems about?

NM: My poetry is generally about issues in the world. I wrote one on how it's ridiculous to divide people into two genders and assume everyone is going to fit into a nice neat box. I also write on eating disorders and rape culture. You know all the fuzzy-warm things in the world.

KF: Where do you see yourself going with your writing?

NM: I would love to write professionally. I'm currently working towards a bachelor degree in creative writing and wish to take my MFA after that. Then I would like to teach writing at the university level, SLAM poetry, and write novels.

KF: Has there been a highlight in your writing life so far and what is it?

NM: WordsWorth and Youthwrite. Without a doubt. They are the most amazing camps for a young writer to find their way too. Beyond that, I'm TAing (teacher a creative writing class at Beaverbrook High School which has been a lot of fun. Oh and I'm currently on the Calgary SLAM team and we're headed to nationals next week so that is pretty cool.

KF: Do you have any advice for other young writers?

NM: Don't be holy. Good work is better than bad work sure, but bad work is better than no work. Beyond that, it's good to have confidence and self-esteem. It's good to know you are in the right field that this is something you are good at - just remember that when older and wiser writers give you suggestions it's because they're older and wiser. You should probably take their advice. Oh, and reread your old work from two or three years back - it keeps you humble AND is a great reminder of how far you've come.

KF: Where can people see your work?

NM: Well you can come to nationals next week Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and see me live, or swing by any old Calgary SLAM and I may be there, but my work is honestly just not that easy to find at the moment. I have poetry I regularly share with the world at SLAMS, but beyond that I don't have anything polished enough for public viewing.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Kim Firmston

Kim Firmston is a writer and creative writing instructor in Calgary. Her teen novels Schizo and Hook Up were Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Bet Selections. Her short story "Life Before War" was shortlisted for the 2008 CBC Literary Awards. Her most recent novel for teens is Touch, about a teenage hacker with a troubled family life.

Go to Kim Firmston’s Author Page