Souvankham Thammavongsa was born in Nong Khai, Thailand in 1978. She is the author of two poetry books, one of which, Small Arguments, won a ReLit prize, and the other, Found, was made into a short film and screened at film festivals worldwide including the Toronto International Film Festival, L.A. Shorts Fest, and Dok Leipzig. …
Come on down to Vancouver’s Little Mountain Gallery (195 east 26th Avenue) this Friday evening (April 26th) for readings, treats, and general frivolity…Rumour has it that a dance party may even be in the offing!
Readings at 8p.m. by (local legends):
Zoey Leigh Peterson
Check out our facebook event page–and we’ll see you there!
Well, spring has sprung, and with the longer daylight hours come diversions aplenty, so we’re giving all you writers out there an extra week to get in those creative non-fiction contest entries.
That’s right, a whole week! The new deadline is April 22nd, 2013, and now it’s even easier to submit. Visit our Contest page for all the juicy details.
Libby Zeleke’s non-fiction story, “We Were Punk Rockers” (writing as Livvy Black), was one of the two winning entries in our 2012 Creative Non-Fiction contest. We talked to her about her experiences as a punk rocker, her writing life, and her unconventional advice for this year’s entrants.
In her professional life, Libby often writes in a technical or legal vein, so “We Were Punk Rockers” served as a release from working for a paycheque or a good grade. “It felt provocative, even outrageous,” she says, “to think through the possibilities of punk and of punk articulation against these more orthodox and self-contained disciplines…against the privileged or elite engagements of law or academia. Punk as an act of (collective) writing might insist that narratives are everywhere and for anyone.”
“We Were Punk Rockers” introduces us to punks who are writers and storytellers, who are collectively and obsessively self-disclosing. Here punk “is intensely pre-occupied with language, with narrative and voice. Punk,” Libby says, “does not let you walk away without scars. So, for me, writing the collective struggle of punk was as liberating as it was painful.”
The idea of writing a punk narrative had been with Libby for a long time, but it was when she decided to ask questions about the form of non-fiction, to, in effect, explore what it meant to write punk—that the piece took shape.
“It was not until I had come across techniques such as sampling in Rap and Hip Hop or after I had seen Godard’s film Notre Musique that I understood something about punk discourse; for instance, the idea that punk is montage—that it fashions new narratives from disparate elements, sometimes with nothing more than paper and scissors. Punk also crystallized for me in looking at a Gerhard Richter photo-painting, or in reading Marguerite Duras’ poetry on Hiroshima.”
Contest deadlines are essential to Libby’s writing process, whatever the genre: “I schedule my life around them. I have date books full of them. I re-order, re-write, and edit a manuscript to a contest deadline.” But it wasn’t until EVENT that she experienced the rush of winning, and describes her shock at hearing the news like being “ a dazed punk-rocker just out of the mosh pit.” She made the most of her win, by making sure her “friends, detractors and sworn enemies alike were getting the information about EVENT’s contest and my winning entry in their news feeds. Trust me when I say, winning a writing contest is one small moment of personal and collective vindication.”
Since her win, Libby has been working on a number or projects that pick up where “We Were Punk Rockers” left off, and exploring her “obsessions” like violence, war, the atrocities of the 20th century, utopia/dystopia, revolution and apocalypse. Lest that sound a little on the heavy side, one of her current projects is a play; “a comedy set in a dystopic future entitled ‘Kamikaze Women’ after Woody Allen’s character in Husbands and Wives.”
Her advice to this year’s entrants? “I would say that no matter what happens, write as you would a punk mantra. Be relentless. Insist on your story, but be ruthless in your discipline. Write against the hype. Smash all thoughts about the romance and mystique of creative genius while maintaining a deep commitment to your punk fashion-sense. Revel in the pure idiosyncrasies, the freakishness of your outcasts, and then let them run into the mosh pit. When you run into problems in the narrative—say, like the disappearance of a character or the dissolution of the entire narrative community—do not be afraid to enter the rhetorical basement. Bring with you a punk memento.”
Speaking of which, get yourselves over to our contest page and enter before it’s too late! This year’s deadline is (postmarked) April 15th…
EVENT’s creative non-fiction contest deadline is only a month and a day away! To help you with that last push to the finish line, we called upon our final judge for the 2013 contest, the one and only Russell Wangersky.
We’re delighted to have this award-winning, genre-crossing writer on board for this year’s contest. Wangersky’s won the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction (plus lots of other awards and nominations) for his book Burning Down the House. His work in fiction is equally lauded: the Giller-nominated The Hour of Bad Decisions, and the BMO Winterset Award-winner The Glass Harmonica. His latest book, the collection of short stories Whirl Away, was recently nominated for the Giller Prize.
As our readers and past entrants already know, the contest judge’s essay always appears in the issue alongside the winning entries, but this time we thought we’d gather some insight into the judging process—even before the reading begins. We sat down with Russell (if by ‘sitting down’ you mean corresponding from Vancouver to St. John’s and back again) to get his take on his esteemed role, and what you might want to consider before you lick that envelope and cross your fingers…
EVENT: As a judge, what are you looking for when you’re reading these finalists?
RW: I’m looking for a flair with language and a real sense of pacing—writing that knows how to play with timelines for effect, and that grabs me and drags me right into the text. Take-no-prisoners writing.
EVENT: What other judging experience have you had?
RW: I’ve judged bids for fire equipment and ranked emerging writers for the Canada Council. Project grants and barbecue sauce. And once, quite tragically, a spelling bee where I had to step in and arbitrarily break the heart of a 14-year-old. But that’s a non-fiction piece all on its own.
EVENT: As a guy who does a lot of non-fiction writing in his professional life (as an editor and columnist with the St. John’s Telegram), what do you think sets good creative non-fiction apart from the not-so-good?
RW: One single thing makes a huge difference: many people make the mistake of writing terrifically strong pieces, and then losing their nerve at the end and deciding to undercut the whole thing by writing the equivalent of “But probably not everyone would agree.” Of course they wouldn’t—but why give them space to trash your argument? Undercutting doesn’t work for cliffs or trees or marriages. Why would it work in nonfiction?
EVENT: You’re a man of many genres. What is your favourite thing to write?
RW: I find that I like to move from genre to genre based on what the story deserves—but I like short stories the best, primarily because you can hold the whole thing in your head while you’re working on it. Novels can be a nightmare of “when did Freddie lose that finger?”, shifting back and forth to find out what happened where. Short stories, the whole thing, tone and all, is right in your hands.
EVENT: Anything particular genre you’d never write?
RW: I don’t do poetry. But I can’t say that I’d never write poetry. Except maybe sestinas. Won’t be at that. Damn poets—they always eat all the cubed cheese before you can even get to the hospitality suite.
EVENT: Any words of wisdom or advice to would-be entrants?
RW: Go with your gut, and don’t be afraid to expose yourself—your humanity, that is, not your human bits. You’ll find your audience feels and lives and breathes right along with you.
EVENT: Thanks, Russell! Is there anything else we’ve forgotten to ask you or that you’d like to talk about?
RW: Hmm. I’d like to talk about words like penguin and dunch—they have great mouth-feel. But it really has nothing to do with the competition, except that people should keep in mind that I like words, even odd ones like kegling.
There you have it, folks! Send your entries in today—for more details and complete rules, head over to our contest page.
Perhaps it’s a trifle presumptuous to refer to one’s own magazine as “hot”, but when you see the literary lineup we’ve got in Issue 41.3, we think you’ll understand why we’re tooting our horn.
You got your 2012 Non-Fiction contest winners, with a judge’s essay by Zsuzsi Gartner. You got your amazing poetry by rock stars like Sina Queyras, Souvanham Thammavongsa, and Laisha Rosnau. You got the Twittersphere heating up over Jessica Westhead’s new fiction. And you know we never forget about book reviews—where the heck else can you find those nowadays?
Everybody also loves our cover image by Mark Mushet, and it’s no wonder. But wait ‘til you see what we got under that cover. Like we said: hot.
Imagine our delight when we heard that Carleigh Baker, one of our very own EVENT interns, had won the subTerrain magazine 2012 Lush Triumphant writing contest for her fiction entry “Last Call.” Let’s hand over the mic and let Carleigh tell you a bit about herself, and give you a peek into the glamorous world …
Is there anything a writer likes hearing more than “the deadline’s been extended”? There are a couple of terrific writing contests on right now, some of which have uttered those exact magical words. If you’ve been nervously hanging on to that precious piece of writing, now’s your chance. Fulfill all of your 2013 resolutions about …
Montreal poet Sue Sinclair, whose poem “The Dead” appears in EVENT issue 41/2, has been named the Canadian Women in the Literary Arts’ first Resident Critic, a post she will hold for the next year. The position has been created to address gender gaps in Canada’s book review culture–you can read more about Sue Sinclair and …
Looking for the perfect literary gift this holiday season? Look no further! For a limited time, purchase TWO subscriptions to EVENT Magazine for the price of ONE. That’s two subscriptions for the amazing price of $29.95 (an astonishing $50 off the cover price!) Buy one for yourself and one for your favourite reader, or cross two names off your …