Voting Time

Nope, this isn’t an advance call for the upcoming fall elections, nor is it a roundup of the Super Tuesday results from south of the border. It’s simply time once again for Monday Magazine‘s annual M Awards—where a healthy crop of UVic talent can again be found among the nominees.

While there is space for write-in nominations in ever category—meaning groups like Philomela Women’s Choir could be nominated as Favourite Vocal Ensemble, busy graduate student filmmaker Scott Amos could be tagged as Favourite Local Filmmaker, or Visual Arts graduate student Dong-Kyoon Nam could be highlighted as Favourite Emerging Visual Artist—listed below are the categories and nominees who have a UVic affiliation.

Deadline for voting is 5 pm Friday, March 23, and you can vote either by picking up a copy of the paper, filling out the ballot and then returning it, or by using the infinitely quicker online ballot. Winners will be announced in April 26 issue of Monday Magazine.

Here are the relevant nominees and their categories, with some UVic-affiliated alternative choices:

• Favourite New Production
Inside — Phoenix Theatre
(Alternate: SNAFU Dance Theatre’s Little Orange Man, created by and starring Phoenix alum Ingrid Hansen)

Cobi Dayan, Genevieve Dale& Mik Byskov in Twelfth Night (photo: David Lowes)

• Favourite Overall Production
Twelfth Night — Phoenix Theatre
(Alternates: Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? directed by Theatre prof Brian Richmond; Theatre Inconnu’s A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, directed by sessional Theatre instructor Clayton Jevne; Atomic Vaudeville’s Ride the Cyclone—which is also up for Favourite Musical—co-directed by Theatre alum Britt Small and starring a whole whack o’ Phoenix alum)

• Favourite Director
Linda Hardy — Twelfth Night
(Alternate: Brian Richmond, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Jacob Richmond and Britt Small, Ride the Cyclone)

He said, she said: Price vs. Edugyan—the literary battle that had to happen!

• Favourite Fiction Book
Half Blood Blues Esi Edugyan
Into That Darkness Steven Price
(Oooh, a husband-and-wife race! How exciting!)

• Favourite Non-Fiction Book
Come From the Shadows — Terry Glavin
(Alternate: Campie by Writing alum Barbara Stewart)

• Favourite Book of Poetry
ApologeticCarla Funk
Small Mechanics — Lorna Crozier
(Oooh, a departmental showdown! How nervewracking!)

Just a reminder that any nominated individuals must live in Greater Victoria—or have lived here for part of 2011—and performances/shows/events must have taken place in Greater Victoria in 2011. For publications and recordings, publisher/label can be outside Victoria, but writer/artist must be from Greater Victoria and the work issued in 2011.


Charlotte Gill visits UVic

Charlotte Gill

Noted Canadian author Charlotte Gill—currently in the running for the $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction (alongside Writing’s own Madeline Sonik)—will be appearing at UVic for a special reading and book signing event this week.

Gill, whose tree-planting memoir Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber and Life with the Tree-planting Tribe earned her the Taylor Prize nomination, will be reading from 1-2pm on Tuesday, February 7, in room B111 of the Cornett Building. She will also be doing a reading alongside UVic grad  Barbara Stewart, author of the oil-patch camp memoir Campie author at 7pm Tuesday at Cabin 12 restaurant, 607 Pandora. (Be sure to check out the original “Eating Dirt” essay from Vancouver Review that grew into Gill’s highly acclaimed memoir.)

Eating Dirt was also nominated for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize and the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. A former professional tree planter herself, the Sunshine Coast-based author’s previous book, Ladykiller, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and winner of the B.C. Book Prize for fiction. Her work has appeared in Best Canadian Stories, The Journey Prize Stories, and many magazines.

“I sowed my first seedling when I got a job on a reforestation crew in northern Ontario,” Gill recalls. “I was 19 years old and an undergraduate at the University of Toronto. Before tree planting, I didn’t know anything about hard physical labour. I arrived in a remote and snowy camp in the boreal forest with half the necessary camping gear and all the wrong clothes. But I was instantly hooked on the tree-planting life—a job most of us grow to love and hate in equal measure.

“Since those early days, I’ve worked on the Canadian Shield, in the foothills of the Albertan Rockies and in many parts of British Columbia, including the breathtakingly primeval Great Bear Rainforest. Like thousands of planters all over Canada, I’ve left my handiwork in muddy swamps and on high mountaintops, in sandy loam and rocky barrens. I’ve commuted to work in float planes, offshore tugboats, diesel trucks, helicopters, rowboats, ATVs, inflatable dinghies and amphibious military vehicles. I’ve crossed paths with whales, eagles, dolphins, flocks of migrating cranes, moose, newborn fawns and grizzlies. In my silvicultural travels, I met all kinds of weird, brilliant, fascinating people. They’re still some of my closest friends.

“In 17 seasons I planted more than a million trees. I don’t do it for a living any more, but for some strange reason it took me a whole book to explain, I miss it every day.”

Ready, set . . . launch!

A few Department of Writing-related readings and book launches to add to your November calendars:

Coastal poet Joe Denham

• Coastal poet and author Joe Denham will be the featured reader at the next instalment of Open Word: Readings and Ideas, followed by a live interview with Department of Writing poetry prof Tim Lilburn. (Open Word is a partnership between Open Space and the Department of Writing.)

Denham is the author of two poetry collections, Flux (2003) and Windstorm (2009), and one novel, The Year of Broken Glass (2011, all published by Nightwood). His work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including Open Field: 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets, The New Canon: An Anthology of Canadian Poetry and Breathing Fire 2: Canada’s New Poets. Denham lives with his wife and two children in Halfmoon Bay, BC, and works as a commercial fisherman throughout coastal British Columbia.

Denham reads first at 7:30pm Tuesday, November 15, at Open Space, 510 Fort St., then swings up to campus for an 11am Wednesday, November 16, reading in room 203 of the Fine Arts Building.

• Faculty of Fine Arts associate dean Lynne Van Luven will be among the dozen authors kicking off their new book as the annual fall collective push by the Heritage Group of Publishers (including Heritage House, TouchWood Editions, Brindle & Glass, Rocky Mountain Books and the Royal BC Museum). Van Luven will be debuting her latest effort, Somebody’s Child: Stories about Adoption. Also on the bill is alumnus Barbara Stewart, who will be reading from her book, Campie.

The festivities run 5:30 to 9:30pm on Thursday, November 17, at the Maritime Museum of BC in Bastion Square. Stewart will be on roughly around 6:45pm, while Van Luven will read at 7:30pm.

Finally, Writing facutly members Madeline Sonik, just-nominated for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, and recent Officer of the Order of Canada winner Lorna Crozier are both included in the new collection, Slice Me Some Truth: An Anthology of Canadian Nonficiton (Wolsak & Wynn). Described as “a ground-breaking survey of today’s creative nonfiction in Canada,” the 36 authors collected in Slice Me Some Truthcover memoir, personal essay, literary travel, nature writing, lyric essay plus researched literary journalism and cultural criticism; writers include the likes of Kate Braid, M.A.C. Farrant, Patrick Friesen, Wayne Grady, Mark Kingwell, Evelyn Lau, Charles Montgomery, Stephen Osborne, Harold Rhenisch and Andreas Schroeder, among many others.

Both Sonik and Crozier will be joining anthology co-editor Zoe Landale plus contributors M.A.C Farrant and Genni Gunn at the local launch at 7pm Thursday, November 24, at The Well, 821 Fort Street.

What Child is This?

Lynne Van Luven

Department of Writing prof and Associate Dean of Fine Arts Lynne Van Luven is back with another book, Somebody’s Child: Stories about Adoption (TouchWood Editions)—the third in a series of anthologies about the 21st-century family that also includes Nobody’s Mother and Nobody’s Father. This latest volume of 25 stories of “longing and belonging” sees Van Luven reuniting with Nobody’s Father co-editor Bruce Gillespie to reexamine traditional definitions of the concept of “family.”

Van Luven appeared at TouchWood’s latest At The Mike reading series on October 25, alongside UVic graduate Barbara Stewart (Campie) and Jane Johnston (whose story, “A Mother Out Of Time,” appears in Somebody’s Child), all of whom were discussing the idea of “Life Writing” at Cadboro Bay Books. As part of that reading, Johnston shared some of her own experiences with adoption, which reflect the intimate and personal nature of the essays found in her new book.

“I gave birth in 1971 as a so-called ‘unwed mother,’ during the aptly named baby-scoop era. At that time, you may as well have killed someone, the shame and punishment for being unmarried and pregnant was just that great. We pregnant girls were hidden away in ‘homes for unwed mothers’ in neighboring towns, cities and provinces. We naturally grieved the loss of our families, our friends, our schools, our communities, our activities, our churches, our pets—well, everything that gave us an experience of belonging. We became lost to ourselves. We were taught that if we truly loved our children, we would let married people raise them. New birth certificates were forged with new names and the original records were then sealed for all time.

We mothers came home empty-armed, expected to behave as if all was well.  We were not to make anyone uncomfortable with our grief. The rule for silence was all-encompassing. So, why would anyone so stigmatized want to revisit the shame and pain and expose themselves, and their families? Well over a million mothers and children are still carrying the burden of this time. Many adoptees don’t know the truth of what happened, and many older mothers will go to their graves silent and shamed.

While even murderers may be freed and pardoned, most provinces still have permanently sealed adoption records—a life sentence that keeps mothers and children apart. Some, like myself, have found ways around that system, but the toxic secrecy and shame of that era prevails in law. The past has not really passed.

It has been said that we are each a part of the greater tapestry. When we stand back we can see patterns emerging and how our part fits in the greater picture. So, writing about the dark decades separated from my son, followed by the overwhelming joy of finding both him and his adoptive family (with no government help) has been transformational. Sharing my voice means finding my place in the bigger story, and also the possibility of helping others see themselves in a healthier way. Adoptees might realize the possibility that their mothers do want them. Do love them. Adoptive parents might realize there are no finite amount of people to love and be loved by in return. And importantly, grieving mothers who see their lives reflected in the stories of other women may begin to heal, if even a little.”

Barbara Stewart was also interviewed recently by UVic’s Martlet, and offered high praise for the Department of Writing. “The writing department faculty has a spirit of generosity that extends beyond the cost of tuition or the borders of UVic,” she said. “Time and again, help has been there when I needed it, even now.”