Biophilia: Call for Submissions

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Calling all biophiles! I’m pleased to announce a call for submissions of fiction, poetry, and CNF for an upcoming special issue of The Dalhousie Review on the theme of biophilia (love of life). Please share away and consider submitting. Deadline July. Send work to Complete details on submissions here:

Biophilia__Call for Submissions





Teachable Moments

One day I’d like to have a story featuring a teacher band called Teachable Moments. For now, I just want to brag about my students. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect I’ve found in teaching advanced fiction workshops at Dalhousie this year is the joy of watching the way students get behind each other’s work. Inevitably, every student reads every other student’s work with warmth and generosity and sincerity. They are such powerful, attentive, empathetic readers. They care deeply. They listen. They bring each other to tears. They gush. They make friends. They respect each other by taking the work seriously, warts and all. More than anything else, they’ve taught me to read generously, to read with love. Sometimes the world of semi-professional writing can feel scarily competitive, even hostile. Never competitive, jealous, or egotistic, these lovely students have been showing me how to read with openness and empathy. It’s enriching and nourishing. I enjoy watching them become better writers, but more than that I find it thrilling to read alongside them, to peel back the skin of their stories and tend the beating hearts therein. So this is a thank you to my students for sustaining me this year.

The board in workshop on an average Tuesday night.

The workshop board on a snowy Tuesday night




A Couple of New Stories & Some Teaching

Bonesy and Jimso

Sketch by Pedro Montoya

I have the wonderful opportunity this year of doing some fiction teaching at Dalhousie University. It’s lovely to be back in my home town, at the university where I first worked as a dishwasher and where I developed my ongoing passion for literature. People who were my professors are now my senior colleagues. It’s been exciting, sometimes overwhelming, always thrilling, and deeply rewarding. I do get down to the ocean sometimes. And between the wild rush of email and PowerPoint and Brightspace I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on how great it is to just walk around thinking seriously about my students’ fiction. What a privilege to dream their characters and settings, their rinks and spacecraft and bumblebees and disco balls, over lunch, in the shower, sliding into sleep.

The above sketch, by my student Pedro Montoya, glows my heart. It grew out of an in-class riff on how to depict hockey culture (the type of riff we might apply to how to make any culture richer). We were debating whether a student had used too many names and I was saying I loved the names, that hockey culture (which I’m also interested in my own writing) loves to pile the names on. Then Bonesy and Jimso were born. I think they could make a great web comic. Thanks Pedro.

In other news, I’ve got a couple of new stories out, both from new book projects in the works. “Chemical Valley,” is from a new story collection I’m working on about Ontario oil culture. Crazily, it got published in the Fiddlehead’s summer fiction issue alongside writers like Eden Robinson and Steven Heighton. I’m really thrilled to be in such company, and I’ve got to thank Fiddlehead fiction editor (and dazzling writer) Mark Anthony Jarman for it.

My other new story, “Underfolk,” has been published in Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate Changing Timesedited by the super-talented Catriona Sandilands and part of her larger Storying Climate Change project. This important volume also includes a whole roster of mega-talented authors, from Betsy Warland to Laurie D. Graham. I’m very thankful for Catriona for letting me be a part of it. The spirit of the book (as I understand it) is to situate and foreground varied human stories–real everyday stories–within, alongside, and against the focus on sensational and apocalyptic imagery in the climate change discourse that affects us all. The world is ending–or at least changing drastically for the worst–but we feel it in little ways every day, and screaming from megaphones can only go so far.   

“Underfolk,” is also part of a YA book called Sick Harbour I’ve been working on with dynamo kidlit writer Sarah Sawler. Another great thing about being back in Halifax is that Sarah get to write the thing in person (you can find us at Local Jo’s). Sarah and I are currently plugging away on edits as we work towards a draft of the novel. Collaborating with Sarah has been a lovely thrilling experience. She makes the usually lonely task of writing feel eerily fun and easy. It doesn’t hurt that Sarah has received a bunch of recognition and been nominated for major awards for her previous work, including Be Prepared: The Frankie MacDonald Guide to Life, The Weather, and Everything.

Stay tuned for more updates on the knuckly icetastic rampages of Bonesy and Jimso.

Rising Tides

PS Review & Best Canadian Stories 2018

Somehow back in April I missed this lovely review of Peninsula Sinking from Jeremy Gilmer at The East. It’s one of the most thorough and thoughtful reviews the book has received. Gilmer describes the stories in PS as “rooms full of wonder that will play tricks of light with our hearts and heads,” adding that there “are forests behind this first sight of treeline, and I welcome the dark journey.”

In other recent news, I’m quite tickled to have a story included in Best Canadian Stories 2018, edited by Russell Smith. The volume features stories by some writers I’ve long admired, including Lisa Moore, Stephen Marche, and Lynn Coady. There’s talk of a Toronto launch on November 15th and I, for one, can’t wait to nervously skulk the outskirts of this crowd.

Atlantic Book Awards Shortlist

What a thrill! Peninsula Sinking got shortlisted for two Atlantic Book Awards: the Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award and the Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction. This means I get to go to a gala (which means I have to buy a new pair of dress shoes). I’ll also be doing a reading at Garrison Brewery on Wednesday May 9th. Needless to say I’m thrilled for this little homecoming excursion, and to be among such fine company on the ABA shortlists. When I think of recognition, I think of people back home. Maybe I’ll toss a copy of PS off the harbour to celebrate.

Media & East Coast Readings

Peninsula Sinking has gotten some really great coverage since it came out in February. I’m grateful to Atlantic Books Today for a robust and thoughtful review by Donald Calabrese, who writes that the book demonstrates “one of Canada’s most promising talents.” I’m also thankful for Shelagh Rogers for having me on to discuss the book on CBC radio’s The Next Chapter. I’m also very please that Dionne Codrington interviewed my for CBC books’ “How I Wrote It” series.

And what better place to take the book on tour than the titular Peninsula! I’ll be in Halifax for readings March 13 & 14th (Halifax Public Library and TBA–get in touch on Twitter if you’re interested). After that I’ll hit the isthmus Fredericton area March 15-16 to do a reading and a workshop through Words Feast literary festival.


Book Cover and Launch!

I’m really excited to reveal the super snazzy new cover (thanks Biblioasis!) of my short story collection, Peninsula Sinking, which is launching this September. Can’t wait to get my hands on this bad boy! I’ve just finished working over the proofs and should be getting advanced copies before too long. I’ll be launching the book in Hamilton, Toronto, London, and Windsor, alongside fellow Biblioasis authors Kevin Hardcastle, Alejandro Saravia, Cynthia Flood, and Pino Collucio–super excited to read all of their new books! Here are the dates and times for the book launches:

Tuesday, Sept 19 @ Bryan Prince Books in Hamilton (Doors 6:30 PM, Readings 7:00 PM)
Wednesday, Sept 20 @ The Garrison in Toronto (Doors 7:00 PM, Readings 7:30 PM)
Thursday, Sept 21 @ Attic Books in London (Doors 6:30 PM, Readings 7:00 PM)
Friday, Sept 22 @ Biblioasis in Windsor (Doors 7:00 PM, Readings 7:30 PM)

Gavin Trilogy Complete

Suture, the third and final story featuring Gavin, my electric wounded picaro, has been published as part of The Puritan 36. It’s been really rewarding working with Puritan editor Tyler Willis on this cycle of stories, all of which have been published by The Puritan and are now set to appear in Peninsula Sinking, my fiction collection coming out this fall with Biblioasis. My life right now mostly consists of furiously editing and frantically second-guessing and trying to make the book the best it can possibly be. So it’s nice to have this story out there naked and exposed to the world, for better or worse. Thanks to all the lovely volunteers at the Puritan for their vigour and commitment and care.

Full Mondegreens Released!

Happy to report that this flesh-hued beauty is now available from Frog Hollow Press. If you’d like a copy, contact me, co-author Andy Verboom, or Frog Hollow. Or, even better: come out to the official launch, this Tuesday at The Steady in Toronto (1051 Bloor West) at 8 p.m. Andy and myself will be reading, as will poets Carl Watts and Chris Johnson, whose contest-shortlisted chapbooks are also fresh out from Frog Hollow. Full Mondegreens is a formal experiment in the misheard lyric. It was damn hard work to write and I’m thrilled to have this lovely, fleshly book object in my grubby clutches at last.


“Colloquium” Wins Walrus Poetry Prize

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.