Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

ecarson's blog

Beatrice & Virgil (Against the Plain Sense of Things)‏

Responding to the recent barrage of media attention and hype around Yann Martel’s new novel, beatrice & virgil, people who read and enjoyed his last novel, Life of Pi, are likely to be perplexed and, in the end, disappointed with this newest work. More on this in a moment.

The Blackbird Must be Flying (Like a Feather on the Top of the Mind)

He reaches up and unbuckles the harness that had kept him rooted in his Tiger Moth during the first of the early morning training runs. The wind was beginning to gust now in erratic patterns that cut across the frozen, snow covered tarmac, and he must have wondered how many more flights could be squeezed in today. The weather front coming in from the north and west was building, a wide arc above the prairie that drew a clean line between the blue strip of sky above Regina and gray of the approaching storm.

Distant Early Warning (What the New Said to the Old)

“The medium, or process, of our time – electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life.” Sound like it could have been in today’s paper? Maybe a squib on the internet about blogging or some other social media? In fact, it’s from the opening statement of a tiny book first published in 1967, a book responsible for widely popularizing its author’s name, and for taking viral one of the great aphorisms of the century.

Further Adventures in Nonfiction (Writing With No Rules)

Nonfiction begins with the disadvantage of being known and described as something that it is not: If you’re looking for fiction, “don’t look here” is the not-so-subtle message of this particular medium. Nonfiction’s history has always been about the dissidence between its grand illusion of narrative order and the reality it seeks to reveal, between the apparent logic, accuracy and connectivity of its reasoning and the information, knowledge and, ultimately, wisdom it wishes to impart.

Why a Poem Knows What it Doesn't Know (Thinking Through to the End)

When a poem begins in our heads, it usually does so with some kind of descriptive imagery, turn of phrase, or metaphor. It jumps out at us from nowhere, or, as is often the case, emerges directly out of something we hear or read. Contained within this initial material usually is the thought that soon will become the poem, though at this point most of us really aren't aware of it or even where it's taking us; the poem forms around these first seeds, gradually expanding and taking shape. We collaborate with the poem throughout, always taking turns controlling direction and losing control, adding balance and subtracting disarray to the body of thought.

Background & Foreground (The Future Isn't What it Used to Be)

Over thirty years ago, Porcupine’s Quill accepted for publication my first book of poetry, Scenes. In that period, I was publishing quite regularly in several literary periodicals, and was working on my doctorate. By the late 70s I began work as a junior editor in book publishing, eventually rising to the role of publisher. I was fortunate to be able to work closely with dozens of new and established authors, including Carol Shields, Dennis Lee, Marilyn Bowering, John Irving, D.G. Jones, Keith Maillard, Julian Barnes, John Ralston Saul, Barry Lopez, Robert Kroetsch, Eli Mandel, and Janice Kulyk Keefer. I learned a lot about writing from them. They kept me sane.

The New Future of Nonfiction (What Fiction Doesn’t Know)

Ten years ago I wrote an article describing how the internet was gradually re-shaping and transforming nonfiction writing (not such a leap considering Marshall McLuhan’s work from the 60s and 70s). “The New Future of Nonfiction (What Fiction Doesn’t Know)” examined how everyday use of the personal computer, search engines, and a growing access to an ever-widening web of information through the internet revolution, were re-shaping the nature and methodologies of research, and that these were in turn having a profound and far-reaching effect on the form, content, style and function of nonfiction writing as a whole.

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