Mar 10, 2015

Saskatchewan Book Awards

If you've been wondering where I've been lately: I'm the Director of the Saskatchewan Book Awards right now. And the Awards Ceremony is next month (cue terrified face).

So, if you're in Saskatchewan, come on out! You can buy tickets on the website at

Don't worry, I'm still writing too. I've taken a bit of a break now that I'm done my Master's degree (oh ya, I passed my Master's defense...not sure if I mentioned that here or not) but I'm still writing poems when I can find a spare moment and sending them out for rejection (there's been a lot of that lately). But hey, I've got a whole manuscript of fairy tale poems. And I feel good about that. It's enough. For now.

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.