6/13/2022

Four Essays

After having publishing only a handful of essays in my life, an odd conflagration of requests and acceptances resulted in my publishing four essays in recent months. I think this might mean that I'm getting old, and people believe that wisdom has somehow accumulated in me? I doubt that, but I did at least learn that I quite like writing essays.


First up, I had an essay published in the anthology Resonance: Essays on the Craft and Life of Writing. The book was edited by Andrew Chesham and Laura Farina, who run SFU's Creative Writing program (where I teach "Poetry 1"), and my essay is drawn in part from my lecture material in that class. Entitled "The Power of Adjacency," it looks at how poetic language's greatest strength is its ability to "pock the linear with collaborative gaps": to leave things out so that the reader can fill them in using their own imagination. While my essay isn't online, I've posted small excerpts from the book here and here.

The book features 43 (!) essays on the writing life and craft, and I encourage you to check it out on the Anvil Press website or at a bookstore near you!


Next, I was honoured to be asked to write a "Note on Writing" for EVENT magazine. The notes are an annual tradition dating back to 1989, with the first 32 years of essays being collected recently in a really tremendous anthology (I've posted a bunch of excerpts on the blog, you can read some *deep breath* here, here, here, here, here, here and here.) 

My essay was part of the first set of essays after the anthology - so if EVENT survives another 50 years, it should appear right at the front of the next anthology. EVENT 50.3 features Notes of Writing by me, Anna Ling Kaye, Amanda Leduc and Brandon Wint. My essay, "On Silence," is about my motivations for writing: why I write and why I might stop writing one day. Check out the issue if you get the chance.


Last fall, I was asked to deliver a keynote to open the 2021 Fraser Valley Literary Festival. I spoke about my mother's dementia, and moments of social dislocation (Pandemic, anyone?) and how poetry can see us through. I was really pleased with the talk and hoped it might find a way to live on in print. It was a blessing, then, when a few months later the League of Canadian Poets asked if I could write them an essay for their Poetry Month series "On Intimacy." The essay that resulted expanded on my lecture, and you can read it here: "Why? And Why Now?: On Poetry and Companionship."


My fourth essay brings to mind the Sesame Street song "One of These Things is Not Like the Others" as it has nothing to do with poetry, wasn't written in recent months, and is far longer than any of the others. I wrote the essay, entitled "The Missing Page," in 2014 as part of my Masters program at UBC. It mirrors a trip Marta and I took from Dar Es Salaam to Kigoma, Tanzania, with the trip Henry Stanley took along the same route to find David Livingstone in 1871. It's quite possibly my favourite thing I've ever written, and I tinkered with it endlessly over the intervening eight years. I was thrilled when Canadian Notes & Queries took it for their Winter 2022 issue. Please do think of picking up a copy.

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