Narratives of place

H. and I took a short road trip through parts of the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana recently, in connection with my participation at the Billings (MT) Bookfest and the High Plains Fiction Awards on Oct. 25-6.

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near Thermopolis, WY

We enjoyed it. We were impressed by how dramatically terrain can shift in a matter of hours (we covered more than 4000 kilometers) and how much of what we passed was interesting or wondrous in some way. Okay, there were a few patches — in  Wyoming — almost too desolate-looking for words, but I was reading Annie Proulx’s Close Range: Wyoming Stories – a collection I highly recommend – and for that, the patches were perfectly necessary. For the connection between place and art, I mean, which is what this post is sort of about. Continue reading

Worscht en Rhubuaba

Worscht en Rhubuaba. I can’t actually say it, not correctly at least, not having grown up with Low German (though I learned to understand it as a adult living in Paraguay for a couple of years), but I spent Saturday and part of Sunday last week at an arts festival by that name. Meaning sausage and rhubarb. It was a Manitoba Mennonite Creative Arts Festival so the reference was perfectly appropriate, if somewhat nostalgic, given that nowadays Mennonite writing (“if there is such a thing” — a question one of the Round Tables asked) is so large, so diverse, so out of the village. But never mind that, it was a great event, put together by the energetic and talented Di Brandt and others from Brandon University (Dale Lakevold, Audrey Thiessen). Continue reading

Books “near final” and finished

Yesterday I completed what I promised to do when I applied for and got a Manitoba Arts Council grant last fall – and only one day beyond the five months (December through April) I’d projected! What I promised was a “near final draft” of [tentative name], a novel in which [one sentence description]. It exists now, a manuscript of some 114,000 words, and needs a rest. As do I, to take some distance so I can see what “final” may involve, and to gather energy for the steps beyond that, which include others deciding what I’ve got and if it’s any good. In the meanwhile, I’m deeply grateful to MAC for the financial support and affirmation, and for the powerful motivation that external expectation provides! Continue reading