Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

stsiang's blog

Susan, a lesson in awesomeness (part 9,10,11 &12)

How in the world did April go by so quickly? I have to admit I was a little flummoxed at the beginning of this writer in residency by the number of posts I was supposed to put up. And now I feel like it's not enough! I've barely managed to squeeze in a dozen of my favorite Susans.

Dear readers, so you won't miss me terribly I've included the formidable Sue Chenette, Susan Briscoe, Susan Andrews Grace and Susan McMaster in this, my last posting.

I hope you've found my suggestions (steal stuff, eat KFC when depressed, refuse to teach your children to read, stalk a poet, read some Susans) will prove to be helpful in your own writing career.

And now, on to the main show:

Failure Pile

I’d like to talk about rejection today because I am a veritable expert on the subject. I’d wager that most writers are. Still, it’s not something that most of us talk about. I think we all harbour the fear that if we confess how much and how thoroughly our various manuscripts have been rejected, we’ll only manage to convince people that it’s being rejected for a good reason. Whenever someone gets an award or a publication they shout it out on Facebook, but we’re all a lot less likely to post about our private humiliations and rejection-fed insecurities.

Sending a manuscript out to the slush pile is a lonely proposition. When Sweet Devilry was being considered and variously rejected from just about every publishing house in Canada, I walked around hearing Patton Oswald’s voice in my head -- his routine about the Famous Bowl from KFC felt like my life -- I was a “failure pile in a sadness bowl”. (

Susan, a lesson in awesomeness (part 8)

I can't think of Sue Goyette without getting goosebumps. To me, she's always in all-caps SUE GOYETTE THE GREAT and there are trumpets that announce her name. Sublime, subtle, and always so pitch perfect that I feel despair even as I am lost in admiration within her work, Sue Goyette is everything I have ever wanted in poetry. It's crazy that she should be nice and funny to boot.

1)What makes you so awesome?

No one would agree with me in this house, but I think my dance moves and my Ping-Pong skills are worth noting.

2) What inspires you to write when you’re feeling stuck?

That it’s all right to write badly. That it’s all right not to be brilliant. That it’s okay to feel like I know nothing.

3) What fascinates you?

Confessions of a sexist reader

For some reason I tend to read mainly women. I can name 15 Canadian Susan poets off the top of my head but I would stall out if you asked me to name, say, 3 Bobs. It’s awful. I don’t know why I’m so slanted in my reading habits but somehow or another I always find myself with a book by a female author in my hands. So today I’d like to highlight some great guys. You know they must be good because they’re practically the only guys I read.

Susan, a lesson in awesomeness (part 7)

Today we have an interview with Susan Gillis,a fantastic poet who grips you at the first line and doesn't let you go until you've read the whole book through. I'm glad to finally find out the secret of what makes her so awesome.

1)What makes you so awesome?
I'm secretly a Cubist portrait of myself.

Don't Teach Your Kids To Read

I have actively avoided teaching my daughter how to read. She’s an extremely independent soul to begin with, and I hate the thought of our shared reading time ending. She already holes up with a book and pores over the pictures with her door closed. I fear for the time when she pushes me out her room completely saying “I can read it myself! Sheesh.”

Susan, a lesson in awesomeness (part 5 & 6) or why you should floss

Today I’d like to introduce you to two Susans (actually, a Susan and a Sioux) who are both incredibly talented poets better known for their work in other genres. Susan Olding is best known for her non-fiction work which, not surprisingly, resonates with poetic beauty, and Sioux Browning is a prolific and incredibly talented screen writer who also happens to be a closet poet.

Be Full Of Others, Part Two

In part one of “Be Full Of Others” I talked about how lucky I have been to have fallen into a great, supportive community of writers. Now I’d like to talk about ways to generate and promote your own community of writers.

Community is formed by being full of others. In every act, celebrate and promote the writers you love. Rejoice when you find a new talent that eclipses your own. When I came to Kingston I put up some posters at the library advertising a poetry circle. The idea was to have a small diverse group, open to writers of any level. In truth (and oh, my ego, I’m ashamed to admit it) I thought of the writing group as my kind of community service. I thought that maybe I could give back some of what Sheri Benning and other writers have given to me.

Be Full Of Others, Part One

I wish the myth of the solitary, talented writer were true. After all, if it were then I could be the romantic figure who got published because of my shining, overwhelming genius. In truth though, I owe everything to the parade of writers who have supported me from first draft to finished product (of shining, overwhelming genius of course).

Susan, a lesson in awesomeness (part 3 & 4)

As some of you may have suspected I am a dedicated Susanphile. So much so, that I’m currently in the midst of editing a new anthology: Desperately Seeking Susans, which will only contain Canadians named Susan (or reasonable variant thereof). As much as I loved Susans, before I began editing the anthology, my knowledge of Canadian poets named Susan wasn’t exhaustive. Among the Susans I discovered in the process of my research were Susan Ioannou and Susan Telfer. Susan Ioannou is a wonderfully talented and prodigious Susan who already has many books, while Susan Telfer is a relatively new voice whose beautiful first book House Beneath was published in 2009.

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