Nov 4, 2014

Blog Hop

So, there's this thing called a blog hop and Cassidy McFadzean tagged me in it and now I'm tagging my lovely supervisor, Kathleen Wall and Christian Bates-Hardy, who has been thinking about blogging again and hasn't done it yet, so now he has to, because them's the rules. You have one month to answer these questions, or bad things will happen because this is basically a chain letter, let's be honest. 
1. What am I working on?
Finding a job, mainly. I'm a pretty fantastic proofreader (any takers? ha!). I'm also preparing to defend my thesis. I've been thinking about a new project now that I'm "done" my thesis but I'm not sure how separate it is yet. I'm certainly not sick of fairy tales and I'd like to publish my collection once I hear what my external examiner has to say but I might also want to add a few poems to it. We'll see. 
 2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Hmmm, that's a big question. I try to walk the line between pretentious and cheesy. I want people to be able to understand and interpret my poems in the same way that they might interpret a favourite song. I try to leave the door open for readers to peek in and see themselves staring back. 
3. Why do I write what I do?

Well, this is kind of two different questions, so I'll answer them in two parts.
Why do I write poetry?

When I was about 7 or 8, I wrote a poem about Remembrance Day and it was published in the school newsletter. I suppose I was hooked then. I wrote your typical bad, emo poetry as a teenager but my mom and a couple influential teachers believed in me and sent me to a writers' retreat. I learned about literary magazines and how to write a cover letter and where to send my work and not to give up. So I kept writing and I eventually got published in one of those literary magazines and then another and so on, and here I am: about to embark on my first manuscript submission.

Why do I write fairy tales?

Specifically, I write about fairy tales because I read the real "Little Mermaid" when I was very young. We were staying with my grandparents, who let us sleep in their library room (at least, I remember it as a library room with shelves lining the walls; perhaps it was only one shelf and my child-memory expanded it). I discovered a small, illustrated copy of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" and pored through it eagerly, as I was already acquainted with the Disney movie, but I was appalled to discover that the mermaid died at the end (ok, so not really dead, considering the whole turning into a spirit of the air thing but my child-self knew that dead air was still dead) and I ran to my mother to show her the book and ask her if it was true...was it true that the little mermaid really died? Now, I don't remember exactly what she said but what has stuck with me through the years is the memory of one of the illustrations in the book. In it, the mermaid stands over the prince and his new bride in their marriage bed and she's holding a dagger, struggling with her decision. The thing is, I don't even know if that picture really exists. I've never found it and I suppose it haunts me still. 
4. How does my writing process work?
Well, like most writers, I have a notebook, or several, and I carry them around with me (which is why you will often see me with a large bag), so that when I have an idea, or a spare moment, I write. I've discovered that my writing process will change (has to change) based on how my life is organized. When I was a student, I wrote whenever I wasn't in class or working my two or three part-time jobs. I often pulled over on the highway to jot down poems I composed in my head on the drive to and from my family's farm. Once I started working full-time, got married, and moved (having someone else in my personal space was a transformative experience for me), my writing process changed. I had to schedule it. I wrote my thesis during my lunch hours and on Sunday afternoons. I desperately missed the peaceful time I spent driving the straight, flat Saskatchewan highway to and from my childhood home and I'm still working on my ability to think about poetry while staring at Ring Road traffic and the Co-op Refinery instead of oceanic farmland and expansive skies. Thankfully, I'm used to a certain level of noise while I'm writing, so the drone of the university cafeteria worked well enough for that time in my life. And now I find that my life has changed again and my writing process must follow. 

Sep 25, 2014

Room Magazine

I'm geeking out over Room Magazine's Geek Girls issue (now out!) for many reasons, not least of all the fact that I have three poems in this issue. It's the first time I've had this many poems in one literary magazine and I'm extraordinarily proud to be in the company of Emily Carroll (deliciously creepy artist and storyteller; check out her graphic novel Through the Woods), Sandra Chevrier (whose art is on the cover--click to get a closer look!), Laurie D. Graham (whose poetry book, Rove, was published here in my hometown) and many other lovely and worthy artists. If you would like to buy a copy, Room has an extensive distribution list (which includes Chapters). Or you can buy directly from their website for only $12!

Aug 11, 2014

A Poem

by Courtney Bates-Hardy

I walk a stage, blinded
by the lights of dreams.

There is a notebook
in my hand, brim-filled,

No one picks up the scraps.

She is walking down
an aisle toward me
when she falls.

A snake slides
through a trap door.

            As I take my diploma,
            I am bitten by the reality
            of a job I don’t have,
            stumble with the notebook
            falling from my fingertips
            into a tiny hole,
            where it grows smaller
            and paler.

I follow her down, stepping
through empty space,
slithering over my skin.

The path is spiralling
and I’m not sure
if I’m falling or carrying
my body to the dark.

My hands are empty
but strips of paper fall
from my mouth.

Charon takes one
for the ferry,
asks for another
as a favor.
Cerberus chews the rest.

            I stand in front of a council of presidents,
            lacking the blank stares.
            No one asks me, snidely:


Hades listens, rapt,
Persephone’s tears stop.
 Tendrils of paper curl to the floor.

They speak     
and the condition is this:
walk away,
don’t look back,
you’ll be happy.

The journey back
is hard, like taking
singular steps up a mountain.

I think of Sisyphus
with his impossible boulder,
his unending task,
and know I am lost.

She is there, I can feel her.

            The light is above
            and I don’t want it.

And I turn,

because we all turn,
and walk back with her,
every time, over

and over.

Aug 7, 2014

A Dark Corner of the Internet

Today I went to a dark corner of the internet.

I started with the Fiji Mermaid.

And then read up on the Banff Merman.

Which led me to sirenomelia (not pictured, as it's a real medical condition). And then I read a bit of The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black, peppered with Guillermo Del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities (he owns a mermaid skeleton as well, although it's not pictured in the book). 

I finished by scanning through the Amazon view of Codex Seraphinianus

And now it's time to turn the lights back on.

Jun 20, 2014

Toronto and Progress

I'm back from a quick trip to Toronto, where I attended my brother's graduation (he's caught the grad student bug too and will be back next year to start his MA). It was my first time in Toronto and my first time in another province besides those immediately surrounding me. I've done far more travelling in the USA than I have in Canada, so I'm hoping to keep remedying that in the next few years. It does seem appropriate that we saw the "Canadian New York" after we visited New York City last least that's how I thought of it.

A few highlights:

-saw the Group of Seven paintings at the AGO

-stopped for a smoked meat sandwich and saw Adam Sandler having dinner with his friends and family

-went to Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

-ate AMAZING food thanks to my brother's inside knowledge

-replaced my stolen CDs with some awesome soundtracks at Sonic Boom

-got a tour and demo at Coach House Books

-watched Jodorowsky's Dune at Hot Docs

And now it's back to real life! I'm nearly finished ('nearly' is relative maybe) a major edit of the poems in my thesis. I'm hoping to submit the whole thing to my committee in September so I'm chopping my way to the finish line.

I found out shortly before I left for Toronto that three of my poems will feature in Room Magazine's Geek Girl issue, 37.3. I'm really excited about this one because it's the most poems I've ever had in a literary mag and it's a GEEK GIRL issue! I also heard back from On Spec (a very cool speculative fiction mag that I've been trying to get into for a while) and they would like to publish one of my poems as well. I'm nervously crossing my fingers (and wishing on a couple stars) over a submission to the Fairy Tale Review's contest and I'm holding off on further submissions until I finish these edits. I gotta say, I love editing other people's work but I get awfully stubborn about editing my own!