Update on failure and other stuff

My online photo/fiction series I Know How Small A Story Can Be (scroll down) will resume in a few days. A few people have asked if I’ve stopped the series and I haven’t. This will happen. I blame the sun.

In the meantime, a couple things have happened that I thought I’d post here.

The Queer issue of Poetry Is Dead, which I’ve guest edited, will be out soon and we’ve started posting Q&A’s with our contributors. These Q&A’s, called Queers Fail Better, respond to Judith Halberstam’s recent book The Queer Art of Failure (Duke University Press) which I loved.

Here’s the preamble for the interviews: In her book ‘The Queer Art of Failure’ Judith Halberstam offers alternative ways of knowing and becoming. Instead of valuing the conventional paths of belonging, achievement and completion, she thinks about and champions the ways of “failure”: losing your way, giving in, being excluded, forgetting, awkwardness, coming apart. Not just rejecting the “normal,” Halberstam shows alternatives to success as paths that have always been there, moving away from mastery and coherence. In this series of Q&A’s with contributors to our upcoming Queer issue, we play with these ideas. When we aren’t trying to finish first (or finish anything) where do we end up?

Yesterday we posted John Barton’s responses which you can read here. Barton has published many collections of poetry and edits The Malahat Review, one of Canada’s oldest literary journals. He talks about his devotion to Margaret Atwood’s work as a closeted young poet, about his writing process, about a homophobic heckler and survival. His poem “MR. BRIGHT EYES” will be in the issue.

A while back we posted Ben Rawluk’s interview. Read it here. He talks about quirkiness, rejection letters, Frankensteining. Also this made me laugh, as a graduate school trauma survivor: “Once, someone in a workshop—who was an asshole anyway, but it was early on in the workshop before people really got to know each other—said that my including queer characters was for “shock value.” Several people have admonished me at different points to avoid putting myself in the “Gay Literary Ghetto,” which I used to worry about more than I do now. I write a variety of different kinds of characters, but there’s almost always a queer aesthetic at play, and I feel like my style is too anarchic or nerdy for the “straight” mainstream “Gay Literary Ghetto” anyway.”

Which made me wonder what are the rules of the mainstream Gay Literary Ghetto.

We’ll be posting Failure Q&A’s with writers in our Queer issue over the next few months.

Also, my book People Who Disappear was reviewed by The Winnipeg Review. You can read that here. From the review: The depictions of odd characters, relationships and events in People Who Disappear are filtered through familiar emotions and framed by beautiful settings and language, a compelling combination of dissimilar aspects. This haunting book can remind us about life’s inconsistencies and the beauty in all its differences, as well as the links between ideas, the senses and human feelings.

Alsoalso, there’s a new Queer literary journal that’s started up (operating mostly out of the University of Victoria, I think) called Plenitude, edited by Andrea Routley. They’ve just put out their first issue. It’s $10/yr to subscribe and issues come to your email inbox. I have a story told in prose poems “A Body Changing Hands” in the inaugural issue alongside work by Betsy Warland, Nancy Jo Cullen, and many others.

I think that’s it.



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