It’s been a wild, teetering year for me and I continue to be overwhelmed by my good fortune. It turns out that judge Hoa Nguyen has selected my poem, “Colloquium: J.T. Henry and Lady Simcoe on Early Ontario Petrocolonialism,” as the winner of The Walrus‘ 2016 Poetry Prize. I am, of course, overjoyed by this news–what a way to get my first publication in a major national magazine I have long read and admired! I’d like to use this space to reiterate my admiration for the other poems on the short list, to congratulate Adèle Barclay for her well-deserved win of the Readers’ Choice award, and to thank judge Hoa Nguyen for selecting “Colloquium” and Walrus Poetry Editor Damian Rogers for passing the poem along. As someone who’s had a lot of luck with contests lately, I remain crucially aware of the contingency involved in such affairs. I’m grateful that people responded favourably to the poem and that it will have the opportunity, in The Walrus, to find many more readers.
What a thrill! My poem, “Colloquium: J.T. Henry and Lady Simcoe on Early Ontario Petrocolonialism”, has been named to the shortlist of the 2016 Walrus Poetry Prize. If you go to The Walrus, you can vote for the reader’s choice award. “Colloquium” is a found erasure dialogue composed using fragments of two public domain texts. The poem arose from my current research into the history of oil in Ontario, research I’m doing for a future fiction project on this fascinating and little-known legacy. (The first commercial oil well in North America was tapped by James Miller Williams in 1858–who knew). I’ve been drunk on oil lately, and I’m happy that dark intoxication has burned into a poem I’m proud of.
Unbearably happy to report that my short fiction collection, Peninsula Sinking, is now under contract with Biblioasis. I’ll be fine-tuning the stories over the next few months with editor extraordinaire John Metcalf, whose work as both an editor and a writer I deeply admire. The book will be in print some time next year, likely fall 2017 or spring 2018. Needless to say, I’m ecstatic that the book landed at Biblioasis, its ideal home. I’ve been eagerly reading recent Biblioasis short fiction collections by the likes of Trillium winner Kevin Hardcastle, Jack Hodgins winner Kris Bertin, and Giller-nominated Kathy Page, and I’m excited–if a little intimidated–to add my work to this catalogue. I’m also deeply grateful to all the friends, writers, agents, editors, and teachers that have helped me out along the way.
After unplugging from internet for a 10-day trip to the Sunshine Coast in mid-August, I was thrilled to find out that my poetry chapbook Full Mondegreens–co-authored with the endlessly talented Andy Verboom–won first prize in Frog Hollow Press’s chapbook contest. This chapbook is my most formally ambitious poetic endeavour, and I have to credit Andy with inventing the “Mondegreen” form and inviting me into his mad scientist poetry lab to experiment with it. A spinoff of homophonic translation, the mondegreen pushes the institution of the misheard lyric (“cross I bear” –> “cross-eyed bear”), translating a poem back into itself through a refracted sound map. That might sound complicated, so here’s an example: “Do not go gentle into that good night” –> “Doom wrought surrender in the catfood fight.”
The chapbook is due out late 2016, and, given the lovely book matter Frog Hollow creates, I’m super excited to get my hands on it.
I’m super excited that guest editor Lucas Crawford picked my story, “Joustmaestro9,” to be included in the trans lit themed issue of Matrix Magazine. As a proud ally of all things trans, I’m honoured to be part of this important and timely contribution to Canadian culture and letters. The issue is a gem, with lovely cover art by Annie Mok (below) as well as transily awesome explorations of dissected pigs (Janis Maudlin), emetophilia (merritt kopas), lobster men (Tanis Franco), and so much more. My own story explores the dark underworld of chess.com through a character troubled by repeated sexual reassignment surgery rejections. Here’s a short excerpt:
Darkknight26, you belligerent Californian knave, I implore you to resign. How I loathe your gleaming beach-bum body, your talentless nonchalance, your corn-syrup ringlets, your peroxide grin. Can you not see that your game has consisted of a series of irreparable and humiliating blunders? One insipid attempt at the forked liver attack—so cliché!—and now nothing but forced exchanges and haphazard retreats. How blind must you be, Darkknight26, not to realize that defeat is inevitable, that your back row is helpless, that it’s in your own best interest to give in and move forward with your flickering bonfire of a life?
What a wild thing to happen. My story, “Enigma,” was chosen by judges Greg Hollingshead, Padma Viswanathan, and Richard Van Camp from over 1800 entries as the winner of the 2016 CBC Short Story Prize. Here’s what the judges said about the story:
“A woman must end the life of her beloved horse. A paean to intimacy and to things rarely seen, ‘Enigma’ is an eloquent meditation on the mystery of life and death, love and grief, both human and animal. This is a vivid personal narrative of remarkable spiritual and emotional grace.”
These kind and thoughtful words from a group of seriously esteemed writers is among the most flatering aspects of this experience. I am genuinely, delightfully overwhelmed. Thanks to all my supporters, and congrats to all the lovely stories on the shortlist and the longlisted writers.
Wild times in Huebertland. Last week I posted to announce that my story, “Enigma,” had made the longlist for the CBC Short Story Prize. This week it’s a thrill to say the story has made the shortlist. This is really a singular honour for me. You can read my story, as well as the other finalists, here.