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The Chat with Eva Crocker

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This week we’re in conversation with author Eva Crocker. Her debut novel, All I Ask, (House of Anansi Press) was published to rave reviews last year and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. The Star calls the novel “wickedly funny, sexy joyous ... with heart.”

Eva Crocker (she/her) is a writer and a PhD student at Concordia University where she is researching visual art in Newfoundland and Labrador. Her short story collection, Barrelling Forward, won the Alistair MacLeod Award for Short Fiction and the CAA Emerging Author’s Award.

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Trevor Corkum: From what I understand, All I Ask was partly inspired by an event that happened to you personally. Can you talk more about that, and how the novel progressed from there?

Eva Crocker: I began working on this story in 2017 after a group of about ten police officers, all heavily armed men, forced entry into my home in St. John’s early one morning. They told me I was under arrest for transmission of child pornography and began searching the house.
 
I was home alone and terrified, I asked several times to use a phone and was told I wasn’t allowed. I wasn’t given a chance to get dressed and had to go alone to my bedroom with a young man wearing a gun. They wanted to collect all my electronics to comb …

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Small Courage: Parenting Memoirs

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Jane Byers' book is Small Courage: A Queer Memoir of Finding Love and Conceiving Family, a thoughtful and heart-warming examination of love, queerness and what it means to be a family.

Here, she shares other parenting memoirs that have inspired her.

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Home Ice, by Angie Abdou

This memoir by Fernie, BC–based novelist struck a chord with me. Both Angie Abdou and I are parents of sporty kids. Her romp through a year of her 10-year-old son playing minor hockey resonated with me, having played recreational hockey, but I hadn’t navigated the pitfalls of that mythical Canadian hockey-parent culture. I found myself bristling at the same things Abdou bristled at, and, as a former athlete, also being conflicted acknowledging the great things about sports and specifically team sports, but recognizing also the detrimental effects on our youth of a sport’s particular culture.

This memoir follows one hockey season, the divide-and-conquer parenting that often accompanies having a child in hockey, and the toll it takes on a relationship.

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The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

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Author Kimiko Tobimatsu and illustrator Keet Geniza have teamed up to create Kimiko Does Cancer, a timely graphic memoir exploring the unexpected cancer journey of a young, queer, mixed-race woman. This week, Kimiko joins us on The Chat to talk more about the book.

The Toronto Star has high praise for Kimiko Does Cancer: “The best graphic novel autobiographies provide insight into the lives of remarkable people and Kimiko Tobimatsu’s story, complemented by the highly skilled art of Keet Geniza, is a particularly special privilege for us.”

Kimiko Tobimatsu is an employment and human rights lawyer by day. Kimiko Does Cancer, based on her own experience, is her first book.

Keet Geniza is a Filipinx-Canadian illustrator and comic artist. Born and raised in Manila, she moved to Toronto in 2006 and has since immersed herself in zines and comics as a way to document her struggles as a queer immigrant woman of colour. Kimiko Does Cancer is her first book.

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Trevor Corkum: Kimiko Does Cancer explores the aftermath of your diagnosis with breast cancer at a …

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Launchpad: AFTER ELIAS, by Eddy Boudel Tan

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Last spring—as launches, festivals and other events were cancelled across the country—49th Shelf helped Canadian authors launch more than 50 new books with LAUNCHPAD. And now we're back this fall, but with a twist.

LAUNCHPAD 2.0 features new releases selected by great Canadian writers who've chosen books that absolutely deserve to find their way into the hands of readers.

Today, bestseller Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen Society, is championing After Elias, by Eddy Boudel Tan.

She writes, "After Elias, by Canadian debut author Eddy Boudel Tan, promises from the start to be a puzzle: an airline pilot about to be married is killed in a crash and immediately pegged as the main suspect in the disaster. But this is no simple mystery, and the layered psychological struggles and revelations of Elias's grief-stricken fiance kept me furiously turning pages until the very end. With chapters that shift through time along with the narrator's emotions, a cast of very real but relatable secondary characters, and a haunting sense of the past, After Elias gifts the reader with gorgeous, economic prose and the pace of a thriller. I couldn't put it down."

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The Chat with Cicely Belle Blain

This week on the Chat, we’re in conversation with Cicely Belle Blain, author of the forthcoming poetry collection Burning Sugar (VS. Books/Arsenal Pulp Press).

Author Jillian Christmas says,“Cicely Belle Blain's Burning Sugar beautifully narrates a journey over more than lands and waters. It is an exploration of the near perfect bliss of brazen blackness, interrupted by in all its forms. But even that intrusion is outmatched by the beauty of Blain's wildest dreams that offer a sharp and unflinching analysis, with a tender belly and a steady voice. Each poem pulls its teeth from the book's title, and offers the soft and deliberate sweetness of what could have been—before the burning.” 

Cicely Belle Blain is a Black/mixed, queer femme from London, now living on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. At the heart of their work, Cicely Belle harnesses their passion for justice, liberation, and meaningful change via transformative education, always with laughter, and fearlessly, in the face of resistance. They are noted for founding Black Lives Matter Vancouver and subsequently being listed as one of Vancouver magazine’s 50 most powerful people, BCBusiness’s 30 under 30, and the CBC’s 150 Black women and non-binary people making change across Canada. They are now the CEO of Cicely Blain Consulting, a social justice–informed diversity and inclusion consulting company with over 100 clients across North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Cicel …

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The Chat with Faye Guenther

Swimmers in Winter (Invisible Publishing) is Faye Guenther’s debut collection of short fiction. These six stories explore the lives of queer women across through time. Among other issues, the works consider conflicts between queer people and the police; the impact of homophobia, bullying, and PTSD; the dynamics of women’s friendships; and life for queer women in Toronto during WWII.

Thea Lim, author of An Ocean of Minutes, says “Faye Guenther lovingly tells the stories of ordinary women, whose lives have yet been mostly ignored by literature. Each character in this collection is a planet unto herself: the stories part the mists and show the miles to the surface. Dizzying, precise, and beautiful.”

Faye Guenther lives in Toronto. Her writing has appeared in literary magazines including Joyland and she has published a chapbook, Flood Lands, with Junction Books. Swimmers in Winter is her first collection of short fiction.

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Trevor Corkum: The title story “Swimmers in Winter” takes place partly in the back room of a lesbian bar in 1950s Toronto. It’s a powerful exploration of time and place. What did you learn about this period in Toronto’s queer history during your research?

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The Chat with Nolan Natasha

tagged: Poetry, lgbtq

Nolan Natasha

Today we’re chatting with poet Nolan Natasha, who is based in Halifax. His debut collection of poetry, I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me? came out last fall with Invisible Publishing.

Poet Sue Goyette says, “Nolan Natasha’s collection maps the large cultural shift we’re all feeling about identity, about vulnerability, about body, about community with insight and acuity.” Zoe Whittall, meanwhile, calls Natasha’s writing “clear-eyed, funny, tender, and absorbing.”  

Nolan Natasha is a queer and trans writer from Toronto who lives and writes in Nova Scotia. His poems have appeared in The Puritan, The Stinging Fly, Event, Grain, Prairie Fire, The Fiddlehead and Plenitude. He has been a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize, the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize, the Geist postcard contest, Room Magazine’s poetry contest, and was the runner-up for the Thomas Morton fiction prize.

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Trevor Corkum: I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me? is such a great title for a collection. Where did the title come from and what does it mean for you?

Nolan Natasha: It’s actually a reference to a family joke from my childhood. When I was kid in the 80s and 90s, walkie-talkies felt like just about the most miraculous thing you could own. Despite all the potential they seemed to hold, m …

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The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Gwen Benaway

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Next up in our special 2019 Governor General’s Award edition of The Chat is our conversation with Gwen Benaway. Her collection Holy Wild won this year’s Governor General’s Award for Poetry.

Ed note: This post has been updated in light of an investigation into Gwen Benaway's claims of Indigenous identity. Benaway has not, at the time of this writing, responded to evidence that she has misrepresented her status. We have removed all references to that claimed identity so that it does not continue to occupy space in Indigenous literature.

Gwen Benaway is the author of previous poetry collections Ceremonies for the Dead and Passage. Holy Wild was also named a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry, and the Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature, and longlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Benaway is also the editor of an anthology of fantasy short stories titled Maiden Mother and Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes. She has been a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ writers from the Writers' Trust of Canada, and her personal essay, "A Body Like A Home," was the Gold Prize Winner for the National Magazine Awards in Personal Journalism. day/break, her fourth book of …

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The Chat with Nancy Jo Cullen

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We celebrate Pride month in conversation with Nancy Jo Cullen, author of the fabulous debut novel The Western Alienation Merit Badge (Buckrider/Wolsak & Wynn).  

2019 Amazon Canada First Novel Award winner Casey Plett calls the book, "A queer prairie novel of my dreams—electric, funny, hot, heartbreaking, scathing, like a mix of Sarah Schulman and Chandra Mayor. The Western Alienation Merit Badge flashes effortlessly back and forth between four decades of sisterhood, poverty, estrangement, grief, queerness and, well, alienation. And the ache, the ache of queer people and family."

Nancy Jo Cullen is the fourth recipient of the Writers’ Trust Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Emerging Writers. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph-Humber and her short story collection, Canary, was the winner of the 2012 Metcalf-Rooke Award. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s Stephan G. Stephansson Award and the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. She lived in Calgary for ove …

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10 Books for Young People to Read with PRIDE

A selection of recent books by LGBTQ authors and/or featuring LGBTQ characters or themes—and also featuring hamsters, promposals, Walt Whitman, and whales. 

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Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life, by Beverley Brenna, illustrated by Tara Anderson (Middle Grade)

About the book: It’s not every day you encounter a hamster experiencing an existential crisis, but Sapphire has spent her short pet-store life convinced that she’s waiting for…something. At first she thinks it’s to be FREE, but it may be possible that life has a greater purpose in store—a purpose Sapphire will discover thanks to a nine-year-old girl whose family is changing in ways she doesn’t quite understand. Jeannie’s dad has moved out, her mom is always tired and snappish, and her older brother just wants to play video games in his room all day. Jeannie doesn’t understand what’s going on, but she knows one thing: she really, REALLY wants a hamster. Her mom promised she could buy one with her Christmas money, but it’s been WEEKS since the holidays and Jeannie’s beginning to worry she’ll never get her pet. But maybe if she does, her dad will come to visit. Maybe a hamster will make everything better. Narrated by Jeannie and Sapphire in alternating chapters, Sapphire the Gre …

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War/Torn Identities

Hasan Namir was born in Iraq in 1987. He is the award-winning author of God in Pink, which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His latest book is the poetry collection War / Torn, which is also the theme of this recommended reading list. 

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These books deal with war/torn identities in which the protagonist or the narrator of the poetic voice struggles to reconcile a sense of self. These books inspired me as their characters went through journeys of self-discovery and at times struggled to find their inner voices. This list is a mix of fiction, poetry and short stories all with hyphenated characters and voices that are deeply moving. And what I mean by hyphenated is that the characters all struggle with conflicting characteristics, identities and surroundings. 

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Bad Endings, by Carleigh Baker 

Carleigh’s story collection isn’t necessarily plot-heavy, but more character-driven and portraying realistic experiences. The stories’ endings are sometimes intentiona …

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The Chat with Lucas Crawford

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This week, we’re in conversation with Lucas Crawford, author of The High Line Scavenger Hunt (University of Calgary Press), an innovative and playful collection exploring the history and cultural geography of a vibrant corner of Manhattan.

Poet Shannon Webb-Campbell says, “These poems re-visit, re-imagine and re-story a neighbourhood once home to drag kings and queens, AIDS activists, kink and leather clubs. The High Line Scavenger Hunt retraces urbanization and unwritten queer histories through modes of autobiography, metaphor and architecture. A must read for any urban misfit, intellectual outlier, and every queered heart.”

Lucas Crawford is a poet and an associate professor of English Literature at the University of New Brunswick. Crawford is the author of Sideshow Concessions, winner of the Robert Kroetsch Award for innovative poetry, and of Transgender Architectonics, which helped spark ongoing interest in the High Line park, its designers, and its histories. The High Line Scavenger Hunt is their most recent collection.

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THE CHAT WITH LUCA …

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