The Artisanal Writer

Explores the Craft of Writing

Current Issue

Rafael Has Pretty Eyes

This is my sixth book of fiction, and I am ready for the rough edge of truth. I see it as part of aging. Unfortunately, I have by now known people who have lost children; I have seen bad things happen to good people, so I am at that point. The hazard is that not everyone might like the omniscient presence, but I am willing to take that risk. I have always tried to neutralize life’s blows with humour—that is a constant in my writing—but I am now more willing to go to the sad places.

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Lucy Black

My parents were both in Europe during WWII and each experienced horrific things. My father was in Poland when the Russians invaded and was taken prisoner and sent to a work camp. My mother was in Holland during the occupation and her father was a member of the Dutch resistance. The deprivation and suffering my parents endured was compounded by the horrors taking place all around them.  I grew up listening to their stories and was also witness to the lingering effects of their experiences — behaviours like hoarding food, keeping secrets, not trusting banks and securing the house.

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Tanis MacDonald

For me, the process of writing Straggle was very freeing for the way I write prose. It’s not like I didn’t have my moments when I wrestled with form and other matters, but writing about foot pain, falling, and misidentifying birds all felt subversive like I was telling weird but essential truths about how I live my life. I have always done that in poetry – I mean, poetry is made for such weird essential truths – but it felt very enlivening to that do with prose!

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Lunar Tides

Grief is an undertow, but also a bizarre celebration of sorts. It’s an honouring of love shared, and the expression of deep familial and ancestral ties. Ktaqmkuk/Newfoundland and I are interwoven. The island holds generations of my family, both my maternal and paternal sides, who lived on opposite sides of the island, and later met on the mainland. It’s a place I have run to and away from all my life.

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Climbing the Rain

I like the challenge of making a poem out of almost nothing. Though many poets take their themes from the larger world, the craft of writing itself entails paying attention to details — word choices, form, arrangement of the ideas. If I have a definition of poetry, it is Music and Implication. I am very aware of each sound in a poem, even how it feels in the mouth when I say it. And the essence of poetry, for me, is that it suggests more than is stated on the surface.

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Hate Story

Although my main intention was to tell a gripping, funny and entertaining story, I also hope that readers come away from the book re-evaluating how they deal with other people, both online and off—and questioning everything they read and hear. I wanted Hate Story to be a timely depiction (if also an exaggerated one) of online toxicity and the way we respond to it. When Twitter mobs want to “cancel” or humiliate someone, we have to ask ourselves honestly if the virtual public stoning is deserved or if this is just schoolyard bullying on a mass scale. I’m just not convinced that Justine Sacco or even Amy Cooper is the devil.

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