My friends at the UBC Creative Writing Alumni Association have posted to their website a brief interview and an audio recording of me reading the first few pages of SAINTS, UNEXPECTED.
Thanks to the amazing Francine Cunningham and UBCCRAA crew for the nod!
(If you like what you hear, don't forget that, as always, you can buy SAINTS, UNEXPECTED online or at your local bookseller.)
I'm really excited to be working again with The New Quarterly, one of Canada's best litmags.
This time, in my creative nonfiction piece entitled "You'll See the Sky," I explore the lasting impact of a horrific tree-planting accident I was involved in more than twenty years ago that resulted in a broken back, popped sternum, fractured skull, and uncounted stitches. But even more notably, how that experience has continued to echo in my life, as a newlywed on a long road-trip, as a new father weighing what could have been against the pink, bright newness of a baby girl, and as a person of faith in what some call a faithless world.
For the record, I'm not buying that our world has less faith: we're all searching for some greater meaning, a narrative we can attach to the big "why" of our existence. Even when we say--and how loudly and piously it can get said--that we don't believe anything.
So check out TNQ's Issue 137 and test yourself on the sacred, profane, and faith-filled. I'm excited to dig in, and feel privileged to have my work appear alongside another TNQ who's-who of literary craft.
I washed my hands before opening the thick, rigid, courier-style envelope and sliding out the paper inside. Fingerprints? Smudges? No way.
Pulled the tab, the plastic strip cutting through the cardboard end to end. Held the paper in my hand for a long moment, read the words, felt the weight of the expensive bond. Snapped a photo.
Boom. It be official, I posted online.
Finished my MFA coursework in July, slightly less than two years after I began. Creative Writing at UBC is a competitive, prestigious program, difficult to get in. Took me three tries. Then 36 credits of reading, workshopping, personality differences, lessons in diplomacy, the sublime experience of absorbing work better than my own. A degree conferred in September, permitting me to add Holds an MFA to my CV and website bio.
But I’d been waiting for the actual diploma, that incredibly expensive piece of paper, signed and sealed, to arrive. A flattened bit of pulped wood that signals to the world that I’ve become more than I was. Eligible to teach writing at college or university. Membership in a new kind of tribe. Hitting the literary world with a new gleam in my eye.
The confidence to say, most importantly, that I’m a better writer now.
The biggest payoff.
My creative travel memoir "Finding Iraq" will appear in The New Quarterly's summer 2014 "War" issue, alongside my story "Fairly Traded," which was a notable mention in TNQ's 2013 Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award contest. Look for the issue in mid-July.
Here's the query that got TNQ's attention:
“Finding Iraq” is a travelogue structured around a drive from Kuwait City to the Iraq border at the height of the 2005 insurgency. Along the way, the narrator and his wife visit a number of sites still bearing the scars and memories of the 1991 invasion and liberation, exploring the tension between a free, liberated Kuwait trying to be new and bold as contrasted with a nation's inability to let go of its violent past. Further complicating the landscape is Kuwait’s willingness to play host to and support the American military which is embroiled in an increasingly unpopular occupation next door.