BC BOOK PRIZES: I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, to be a judge for the Ethel Wilson BC Book Prize in Fiction this year. It was very difficult to choose a best book; my top vote went to AMITY by Nasreen Pejvack, a difficult tale about Yugoslavian and Iranian refugees. Congratulations to winner Alix Hawley!
VERSES FESTIVAL OF WORDS: What an incredible festival whose Artistic Director Jillian Christmas also read at this event tonight called POINT OF INFLECTION. I read a piece about rape, written over 1.5 years ago after my friend confided in me she had been assaulted by a member of our community. VERSES is my favourite literary festival in Vancouver and I was so honoured to participate.
Writer in Residence Jen Sookfong Lee at the University of Fraser Valley invited me and poet Jordan Abel to read and participate in a panel discussion called: Challenges and Transgressions, Writing Across Margins. I admire both Lee and Abel’s work immensely, and it was an honour to hold space with both.
Author, poet and professor Dr. Lucas Crawford teaches PEDAL in a class called MASCULINITIES in the Gender Studies program at Simon Fraser University. Today I read for the class and participated in an active and at times difficult discussion with the students about pedophilia, abuse and trauma.
Tonight I attended Emily Carr University’s reading series On the Edge with my friend and admired writer Doretta Lau. We both read from our books and participated in a Q&A with a very engaged and thoughtful audience.
Today I lectured at UBC to a 200 Level Fiction class and it was a profound and moving experience. It was the morning of the Ghomeshi ruling and verdict, and I was struggling with ideas around the value of storytelling. When it is so difficult to tell stories of abuse, with often no discernible pay-off, why do we do it? With their personal and triumphant answers, the students saved me that day. About the experience, the instructor had this to say the next day:
“You were incredibly generous, open, intelligent in challenging and provoking the students to take a look at a difficult issue and see it in different ways. Not only was the talk timely in the wake of the Ghomeshi trial, but it was also timely for the students because at this point in the term, after learning the basics of fiction writing craft, they were given an opportunity to see the bigger picture – social issues – and how their writing might address these issues. You gave them that…And in fact, you gave them something else: a deeply important experience in their education, an unforgettable milestone.”
Feedback like this is invaluable for an artist who writes about abuse.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: CBC names PEDAL a “novel by a Canadian woman you need to read.” Honoured to be on this list with such phenomenal authors.
BC BOOK LOOK: There’s a shout out to PEDAL in BC BOOK LOOK for its scene that takes place in Sirdar Pub in southern British Columbia. I visited this pub while on my bicycle trip across Canada, and I highly recommend checking it out if you happen by!
12 OR 20 QUESTIONS WITH ROB MCLENNAN: Rob McLennan is a prolific author who runs a great interview series with writers. I enjoyed answering these questions very much!
PEDAL finds itself in fine company on this ReLit Long Shortlist, the nominees for Best Fiction by an independent publisher. I am very proud that PEDAL’s home is Caitlin Press, a house with a long tradition of publishing feminist literature. Thanks for the nod, ReLit.