Crow Reads Podcast
By Rayanne Haines
Crow Reads Podcast Apr 15, 2021
In this episode of Crow Reads, Rayanne speaks to author Astrid Blodgett about her 2023 short story collection, This is How we Disappear, (UofA Press). The collection explores the consequences of grief and denial and single moments that change perceptions, lives, and attachments forever. Crisp prose and unexpected plot twists move relatable characters through vivid outdoor settings and interior depths. Haines and Blodgett speak about storytelling techniques including ambiguity and expectation, the impact of writing setting and place, consciously focusing on creating relatable characters without deliberately considering empathy vs sympathy and writing retreats and their impact on creativity.
In this month’s podcast Rayanne Haines speaks with playwright and poet, Natalie Meisner about her book, It Begins in Salt, a masterful collection of poems that wander the halls of an ocean blue-collar life while rummaging the heart spaces of growing up, and evolves into mothering, labours, and loves. This is a poetry book for poets evidenced in the staccato of line details, the rhythms that echo the maritime waves, and the sounds shaped and formed by a studied writer.
Among more, they talk about craft and obedience, how performance shapes writing, the choice to write as participant, Queer identity and finding safe spaces in discovery, and the grounding if mother labour.
Shima Robinson AKA Dwennimmen
In this month’s podcast Shima Robinson AKA Dwennimmen speaks to us, among other things, about finding your place in the poetry community, supporting the community while advocating for artist payment, self-publishing and self-creation, and finding the intent of the poem through performance.
Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton - Treaty 6) born poet and spoken word artist Shima Robinson embodies, with every poem, the ancient meaning of her chosen pen name. Dwennimmen is the name of an ancient African Adinkra symbol, which means strength, humility, learning and wisdom. It is no surprise, then, that this veteran of the Alberta poetry community uses a searing intellect and dynamic precision-of-language to create poetry which ushers her readers and listeners toward greater understanding and poignant reflection. For Dwennimmen, poetry has long been a compass, a salve, an anchor and guiding light. She uses the potential and force of poetry to uncover the full range of her cerebral, linguistic and spiritual fortitude. This is why her every poem and performance testifies to an emerging power and wisdom, an authentic, deeply human potency which she hopes to pass on to listeners and poetry-lovers around the world.
For Ali Bryan, writing is an act of imagination performed as daily ritual. For this Calgary based author, character and plot speak as one device, and she rebels against labels that diminish the value of her writing and use of humour as a tool towards story development. This award-winning author writes family the way we live family, with no judgments or pre-conceived notions of what the characters will do in the moment. In our conversation we discuss character development both from re-visiting characters like in her new novel Coq, and the understanding of character as plot. We talk about the long-term profession of writing the value of the publishing relationship, and how one manifests success in a non-linear career.
In this episode, Rayanne speaks with Margaret Macpherson about her new book, Tracking the Caribou Queen: Memoir of a Settler Girlhood. The conversation looks at the ways the memoir touches on the racism deeply embedded in the North in the 60's and 70's and her understanding of it as a child and now in self-reflecting as an adult. Macpherson discuss, with a frankness, stepping outside of her fragility, to speak as a white women, who was clear about her culpability. We discuss the framing of the memoir, the authors fear of taking up space, the violence within the book, and in her words, how "the book is about white privilege. It's about entitlement. And it's about the dawning of the child's understanding of those things as she grows.”
In this month’s podcast Rayanne Haines speaks with Emily Riddle about her debut poetry collection, The Big Melt. The collection is rooted in nehiyaw thought and urban millennial life events. It examines what it means to repair kinship, contend with fraught history, go home and contemplate prairie ndn utopia in the era of late capitalism and climate change. Part memoir, part research project, this collection draws on Riddle’s experience working in Indigenous governance and her affection for confessional poetry in crafting feminist works that are firmly rooted in place. In their conversation Emily and Rayanne speak about kinship, land, joy, queer love, and intergenerational trauma in magpies.
In this episode, Rayanne Haines speaks with author Leslie Greentree about character vs plot driven stories, how short story and novel writing are shaped, writing flawed characters and controversial stories, and about career longevity in an increasingly competitive market.
Leslie Greentree’s short story collection, Not The Apocalypse I was Hoping For, is a masterful collection that shapeshifts through her characters’ lives. It’s a not-so-subtle commentary on current politics, the pervasiveness of social media and our obsession with having or holding a platform, and the fallacy of human nature.
Sandra S.G. Wong
In this episode, Rayanne speaks with author Sandra S.G. Wong about writing the lived experience, the layers of research and character development that come with crime writing, ambiguity and suspense, and how women characters are perceived and approached in novel writing. In her latest novel, Wong, approaches family dynamics while also writing an “An unusual blend of mystery, domestic suspense, and thriller with a powerful dose of social commentary.”
Sandra SG Wong (she/her) writes fiction across genres, including the cross-genre Lola Starke novels, Crescent City short stories, and the bestselling standalone suspense novel, IN THE DARK WE FORGET. A hybrid author, she has been a Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence finalist and a Whistler Independent Book Awards nominee.
Wong has been involved with genre and literary organizations, conferences, festivals, and workshops across Canada and the United States. She served on the Sisters in Crime national board as its first president of Asian heritage, and currently chairs its DEIJB Advisory Committee. She is also an active member of Crime Writers of Color.
In this episode, Rayanne speaks to Skylar Kay about her debut poetry collection, Transcribing Moonlight. Her poetry explores how surrounding environments reflect and mirror human experiences, especially her experiences as a queer transgender woman. Rayanne and Skylar discuss the Haibun form, healing through poetry and reclaiming the feminine figure of the moon for Trans Women.
In this episode of Crow Reads, Rayanne Haines interviews Jason Purcell, a writer and musician from amiskwaciwaskahikan, Treaty 6 (Edmonton, Alberta), where they are also the co-owner of Glass Bookshop. As a chronically ill writer, Jason writes at the intersection of queerness and illness and is the author of the chapbook A Place More Hospitable (Anstruther Press). Swollening is their first full-length collection.
In this conversation Jason reads from Swollening and talks about teasing out metaphorical spaces, writing the external and internal violence in the body, the parameters of giving and hiding/revealing within the practice of vulnerability as a queer writer, looking for the beats of the narrative in poem placement to orient the reader and signal underlying currents in the collection, and how being sick in a sick world may be a reasonable response.
Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike
In this moving, joyful and vulnerable episode of Crow Reads, I talk with author and postdoctoral fellow, Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike about his short story collection Double Walhala, Double Trouble, how the tenderness of Shakespeare and other romantic poets brought him to poetry during dark times in Nigeria’s history, the value of family, mentorship and relationships in both African and Alberta literary communities, inhabiting and reflecting character realities, and, how poetry, story and being part of literary communities has helped him navigate anti-blackness in North America while continuing following his impulse for joy.
For this episode of Crow Reads, Rayanne speaks with Indo-Caribbean scientist and speculative fiction author, Premee Mohamed about her novel, The Annual Migration of Clouds, genre labels, climate change, finding an agent and how to know when your book is done!
The Annual Migration of Clouds starts off by telling us - The world is nothing like it once was: climate disasters have wracked the continent, causing food shortages, ending industry, and leaving little behind. Then came Cad, mysterious mind-altering fungi that invade the bodies of the now scattered citizenry. Reid, a young woman who carries this parasite, has been given a chance to get away—to move to one of the last remnants of pre-disaster society—but she can’t bring herself to abandon her mother and the community that relies on her. When she’s offered a coveted place on a dangerous and profitable mission, she jumps at the opportunity to set her family up for life, but how can Reid ask people to put their trust in her when she can’t even trust her own mind?
Is there anyone better to write this book and talk to us about world-building?
Premee Mohamed is an Indo-Caribbean scientist and speculative fiction author based in Edmonton, Alberta. Premee is the author of novels Beneath the Rising(a finalist for Crawford Award, Aurora Award, British Fantasy Award, and Locus Award) and A Broken Darkness, as well as the novellas These Lifeless Things, And What Can We Offer You Tonight, and The Annual Migration of Clouds. Her next novel, The Void Ascendant, is the final book in the Beneath the Rising trilogy and is due out Spring 2022. Her short fiction has appeared in many venues and she can be found on Twitter at @premeesaurus and on her website at www.premeemohamed.com.
In September’s episode of Crow Reads, Rayanne Haines talks with Trina Moyles, author, writer, and wildfire lookout about her latest book. Lookout: Love, Solitude, and Searching for Wildfire in the Boreal Forest, is a memoir about Moyles four summers working alone at a remote lookout tower in Canada’s northern boreal forest, offering an eyewitness account of the increasingly unpredictable nature of wildfire. During the conversation, the two talk about Moyles new book, the freedom one finds in isolation, living and working as an artist in rural settings, how social justice sits in her work and how bears play an important role in her life both as an artist and a woman.
Trina Moyles is an author, writer, and wildfire lookout living in the Peace Country of north-western Alberta, Treaty 8, traditional territories of the Cree, Beaver, Dene, and Metis peoples. Her latest book, Lookout: Love, Solitude, and Searching for Wildfire in the Boreal Forest is a memoir about her four summers working alone at a remote lookout tower in Canada’s northern boreal forest, offering an eyewitness account of the increasingly unpredictable nature of wildfire.
Her essay Herd Memory won the Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Award at the 2019 Alberta Literary Awards, and later placed Silver in the Personal Journalism category at the 2020 National Magazine Awards.
Moyles is currently an MFA student in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia, where she’s working on a non-fiction book about living alone in a black bear corridor in northern Alberta during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. She, Bear is a meditation on nature, loneliness, desire, trauma, art, and bodily autonomy in relation to coexisting with a community of bears.
Moyles spends her summers out in the bush, and her winters migrating between the Peace Country and Edmonton.
In August’s episode, Rayanne interviews Titilope Sonuga about her new role as Edmonton’s ninth Poet Laureate, the act of shapeshifting as a writer, artist and women, and the importance of hope and healing through poetry in these times. Sonuga’s most recent book, This is How We Disappear is described as an exploration of the physical and emotional disappearance of women and a celebration of the magic of shapeshifting as an act of survival too. In the collection, she deftly uses storytelling as a lens to critique injustice and offer hope.
Titilope Sonuga is a writer, poet, playwright and performer whose work grasps moments of tenderness and persistent joy at the intersection of blackness and womanhood. She is the author of three award-winning collections of poetry, Down to Earth (2011), Abscess (2014), and This Is How We Disappear (2019) and has composed and released two spoken word albums, Mother Tongue (2011) and Swim (2019). Sonuga has written three plays, The Six; an intergenerational exploration of womanhood, Naked; a one-woman play and Ada The Country, a musical. She has scripted global advertising campaigns for brands including; The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, Intel Corporation, Guaranty Trust Bank and The MacArthur Foundation. She was a writer and actor on the hit television series Gidi Up, which aired across Africa. Her writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovak.
In July’s episode, Rayanne interviews Dr. Micheline Maylor. Dr. Maylor was Calgary’s Poet Laureate from 2016-18. Her latest poetry collection is The Bad Wife (U of A Press, 2021). The Bad Wife is an intimate, first-hand account of how to ruin a marriage. This is a story of divorce, love, and what should have been, told in a brave and unflinching voice. Pulling the reader into a startling web of sensuality, guilt, resentment, and pleasure, this collection asks: what if you set off a bomb in your own house?
During this podcast, Micheline Maylor speaks about elevating the personal to the universal, the importance of studying craft so one can break the rules and how looking at our confessional work as a witness safeguards truth and vulnerability while rebelling within the art form.
In today’s episode of Crow Reads, our first podcast in partnership with Read Alberta and under our new name, we speak with Ellen Kartz, poet and small press publisher. Ellen and I talk about lived experiences as catalysts for change, chasing and catching dreams, the social landscape evolving conversations and creating dialogue within Canadian publishing, and om mani padme hum.
Born and raised in Edmonton, Ellen lived in Calgary for four years while completing her Bachelor of Arts degree. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and a professional writing certificate from Mount Royal University. As an active writer and freelance editor throughout her career, Ellen worked with and for the Edmonton Poetry Festival for many years as a volunteer coordinator, event planner, founding member, and board member. Currently, she is the Communications and Partnerships Coordinator for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and the administrative assistant for the Edmonton Stroll of Poets. In 2018, she self-produced a one-person stage show and poetry chapbook, both titled The Tenderness of Stone about a trek she made in 2016 through Nepal’s Khumbu Valley to Mount Everest Base Camp. Most recently, Ellen founded Armistice Press and launched a quartet of chapbooks by emerging queer Edmonton authors.
It is National Indigenous History month and I’m delighted to share this conversation between myself and Metis scholar and poet Marilyn Dumont. During this episode, we talk about discovery of self and place, colonization and survival, the evolution of identity, the strength of Indigenous narratives as part of honouring healing and witnessing through story vs settler shame, and the importance of being you in your writing.
A professor in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, Marilyn Dumont is a Métis writer and scholar and is the author of four collections of poems: A Really Good Brown Girl (winner of the 1997 Gerald Lampert Award) and now in it’s 13th reprint, green girl dreams Mountains (winner of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta’s 2001 Stephan G. Stephanson Award), that tongued belonging (winner of the 2007 McNally Robinson Aboriginal Poetry Book of the Year and Aboriginal Book of the Year Award) and The Pemmican Eaters (published in 2015 by ECW Press). Selections from A Really good Brown Girl are widely anthologized in secondary and post-secondary texts. Marilyn Dumont has been Writer-in-Residence at the Edmonton Public Library and in numerous universities across Canada. In addition, she has been faculty at the Banff Centre for the Arts’ Writing with Style and Wired Writing programs, as well as an advisor and mentor in their Indigenous Writers’ Program.
This podcast also comes out as we learn more about the heartbreaking discovery of 215 murdered indigenous children who were forced into being part of the residential school system. As a settler, I will continue to listen, learn, and act. My family is donating to the Indian Residential School Survivors Association. I am also including a link for those who also wish to donate and to learn more. https://www.irsss.ca/?fbclid=IwAR3fsVTI3RLbQf-mNZyBHqdcpE0OLzO10GJkDWXHL5dUg85bAmQwyxM3zPo
In this episode with spoken word poet, advocate and educator and Andrea Thompson, we talk about Oral Culture, Empowerment through poetry, Mental Health, Gatekeeping and Authenticity, and Powerful Black Artist Movements. It was hard to stop talking!
Andrea has been publishing and performing her work for over twenty-five years. In 2005 her spoken word album, One, was nominated for a Canadian Urban Music Award, in 2009 she was the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word’s Poet of Honour, and in 2019 her poetry album, Soulorations helped earn her the League of Canadian Poets’ Golden Beret Award. Thompson is co-author of the anthology, Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out, and author of the novel, Over Our Heads. Thompson currently teaches through Workman Arts, CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), and the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She is a member of the Brick Books editorial collective and curator for Brick's multimedia hub, Brickyard. Thompson’s work is featured in the anthology, Best Canadian Poetry: 2020, and she is the recipient of the 2021 Pavlick Prize for Poetry. Her poetry collection, A Selected History of Soul Speak will be published through the Frontenac House series, Quartet in the fall of 2021.
Andrea Thompson is a force of beauty and light. I’m sure after you listen to this podcast, you’ll agree.
In this month's episode, I talk with Author, Editor and Academic, Jade Wallace. Jade Wallace's poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in journals internationally, including This Magazine, Canadian Literature, The Stockholm Review, and elsewhere. They are the reviews editor for CAROUSEL Magazine, an organizing member of Draft Reading Series, an M.A. student in Creative Writing at the University of Windsor, an a founding member of MA|DE, a collaborative writing entity. Wallace is the author of several chapbooks, most recently A Barely Concealed Design (Puddles of Sky Press 2020) and A Trip to the ZZOO (Collusion Books 2020), under the moniker MA|DE. We talk about experimentation in writing and reviewing, ageism, academia and how our bodies sit in writing. Find out more about them at jadewallace.ca
This month's episode features Luciana Erregue. Luciana is the editor/owner of Laberinto Press, an art historian, academic, and writer. She is a Banff Centre Literary Arts Alumni, a former Edmonton Arts Council Artist in Residence, and a recipient of the EAC Cultural Diversity in the Arts Grant. Her work has been published nationally and internationally and showcased at literary festivals. Luciana also maintains her blog SpectatorCurator. In our conversation we discuss othering, how and why Luciana started her own press, using wit and humour in writing, and the emotional burdens placed on women in the writing world.
For our first episode we speak with poet and editor Ayesha Chatterjee. Chatterjee is the author of two poetry collections, The Clarity of Distance, and Bottles and Bones. Her work has appeared in journals across the world and been translated into French and Slovene. Chatterjee is past president of the League of Canadian Poets and current chair of the League’s Feminist Caucus. She is also poetry advisor to Exile magazine, a Canadian quarterly dedicated to the visual and literary arts. Born and raised in India, Ayesha Chatterjee has lived in England, the USA and Germany and now calls Toronto home.
Ayesha joins Rayanne for a conversation about how identity sits in her writing, intersectionality, and her roles as poet, editor and community builder.