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    Wordfest is Calling for Submissions

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    The Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival, also known as Wordfest, has got quite the exciting literary competition going. The Anne Green Award, named for the festival's founding director, will go the "artist whose project explores and challenges the traditional form of story and narrative". If you're a Canadian, you are eligible, and if you win you get $3,000, you get to present your award-winning work at Wordfest, and get pampered as a festival artist with airfare and accomodation.

    So what is a project that explores and challenges the traditional form of story and narrative?

    The criteria leaves a lot open to interpretation and that's exactly how Wordfest wants it. The committtee is hoping to receive "a wide range of submissions in varying formats and languages". Rather than have me skew an interpretation of the details and lead everyone down some mistaken path to oblivion, go to and get the full picture.

    There are two more things I can say for sure: 1) the deadline is May 15th, and 2) last year's Anne Green Award winner (in its inaugural installment) was Edmonton poet Kath MacLean. Click here to watch her award-winning video poems "Doo-Da" and "There Was A Young Man". You can also get into Kath MacLean's work by checking out her book 'Kat Among the Tigers' available now on library shelves. Click the book cover above to place a hold.

    While we're on the subject of submissions calls, don't forget the June 30 deadline for the Alberta Views 2013 Fiction Contest.

    And also the annual deadline to submit to FreeFall magazine for their Fall Open Issue is April 30. Click here for FreeFall's submission guidelines.

    Hot Mixed with Sizzle

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    With more than 40 events throughout April it can be a bit daunting trying to choose which Calgary Spoken Word Festival events to go to, but the lineup for Thursday, April 18th's 'Hot Mix of Sizzling Poetry' is pretty much irresistable.







    As well as a performer who somehow managed to win the title of Nerd Slam Champion AND Erotic Slam Champion in the same year!... Chris Gilpin. And rounding out the lineup is captain of the 2011 Edmonton Slam Team, Mary Pinkoski. It's hard to imagine a more diverse lineup of performers sharing the same stage for a single event, ever.

    Almost all CSWF events are taking place in the intimate performace space of Festival Hall in Inglewood, located at 1215 10th Ave SE.

    It is Officially National Poetry Month... Now What?

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Does the mention of National Poetry Month send you running in the opposite direction, fleeing from nightmarish visions of sweating over a Robert Frost poem to finish high school english? Would you rather read a pile of owner's manuals than this year's Griffin Prize nominees? Is poetry misunderstood and underappreciated, or impossible to understand and intended only for the highest of high brow academics?

    Before we start wishing for April to fly by so we can get to Asthma Awareness Month, STOP, take a deep breath, and consider getting excited about poetry. Here's three reasons why:

    "I am amazed that poets will continue to write about their divorces, even though there is currently a robot taking pictures of orange ethane lakes on Titan." Christian Bok's Xenotext. I cannot possibly expand on how Bok is inserting verse into a strand of DNA for it to generate new lines, literally bringing poetry to life, but a recent article in Maclean's does a pretty good job. The work is being accomplished right here in Calgary. Read the article from a January edition of Maclean's - "Creating the Poetry Bug".

    The 10th annual Calgary Spoken Word Festival is already underway. Not only does this festival bring in poets from all over the world, it also offers poetry workshops, giving us a chance for hands-on learning from some of the masters of the craft. Take a look at the cover story of this week's FFWD for an in-depth look at this year's festival

    On April 9 McSweeney's will release Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry. Featuring essays, interviews, and lesson plans "Open the Door will be useful for first-time and veteran teachers, as well as parents, babysitters, MFAs with no job, and anyone else with an interest in poetry’s place in the lives of our younger citizens". If McSweeney's is excited about producing a book about enthusing poetry into the next generation, then the future looks bright. The four titles already released under the McSweeney's Poetry Series are some of the most beautiful book you'll ever lay eyes on.

    April or not, the world of poetry is in good hands. Stay tuned to the 'Nook all month for recommended reads, local event highlights, poet profiles, and please leave a comment below to let us know how you'll be celebrating National Poetry Month. But remember that April is also Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so put the poem down when you get behind the wheel!


    Writing in the Works, Spring 2013

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Next Thursday don't miss an opportunity to get up close and personal with a full handful of Calgary authors. It's Writing in the Works Spring 2013, where some of our city's finest wordsmiths will gather to share their work, whether from books-in-progress, books about to be published, and books looking for publishers.

    Started in 2008 by Rona Altrows and Lori Hahnel, this event showcases Calgary writers at various stages in their process, presenting a wide assortment of literary flavours, providing several angles of inspiration and an all-round good time.

    As you can probably gather from the bright, nearby poster, the Spring 2013 edition of 'In the Works will feature readings from Ken Cameron, Lori Hahnel, Steve Passey, Inge Trueman and Roberta Rees. Emceed by Susan Calder.

    Thursday, Apr 11

    7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

    Memorial Park Library

    1221 2nd Street SW

    IFWA Short Story Contest: Last Call

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    The deadline to submit to the Imaginative Fiction Writer's Association 'In Places Between' short story contest is April 4. That gives us one week to perfect every detail of our submissions before sending them off. If you're a last-minute type that works best when there's no time left, remember to leave an hour or two to format your story according to the contest rules. There's nothing worse than finding out weeks after you've submitted your work that nobody wants to read your favorite font, or your italics were supposed to be underlined, not italicized.

    While submitting to a contest is always a bit different from the standard format (in that most contests are blind so no contact information is allowed) it's always good to ensure peace of mind by reviewing standard submission guidelines. But what is the "standard"? In the FAQs & Answers page found at the 'In Places Between' contest page, the friendly folks at IFWA listed their idea of a standard as exemplified in a website produced by writer William Shunn.

    Where do you go for reference on standard, proper submission guidelines?

    Lately I've been trying out Chuck Sambuchino's "Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript". This book, published by Writer's Digest, has very clear DO/DON'T lists, as well as examples for a wide range of submission types (non-fiction, short story, novel...) and also lays out very clear steps to take on the path to publication.

    Here at the 'Nook we would love to hear where you go for an authority on manuscript format and submission guidelines. Share with us here by leaving a comment below. We can pool our forces and extinguish all formatting uncertainty!

    Poetry Workshops with CSWF

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Anybody know what happened to March? I've seen months go by too fast before but honestly cannot believe we're less than a week from April. It's a bit concerning when large chunks of time go by like that, but the good news is it's pretty much April already. And there's a lot going on around town for writers in April, including a world class festival that brings in poets from all over the world.

    The Calgary Spoken Word Festival starts April 6 and runs slams, open mics, special events, launches, and generally amazing displays of poetic performance right through the month. With the quality of performers visiting this year it might be best to just sit back and soak it all in, but for those looking to hone their own spoken word skills the festival is also a great chance to work with some of the best.

    There are 6 workshops this year:

    Sunday April 14, 9 - 11am, PENN KEMP

    Sunday April 14, 11am - 2pm, MOLLY PEACOCK

    Friday April 19, NOON - 2pm, ANDREI CODRESCU

    Friday April 19, 2:30 - 4:30pm, TOM WAYMAN

    Saturday April 20, 1 - 3pm, BOB HOLMAN

    Sunday April 21, 11am - 2pm, LIZ LOCHHEAD

    If you need a little inspiration to get in the mood, look no further than 'The Spoken Word Workbook' edited by the festival's Producer & Artistic Director Sheri-D Wilson. This learning tool is also available electronically at

    Is it April yet?

    Live at Central... Alice Sebold

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Annie DavidsonThe year is 1906.

    A 68-year old widow with a passion for books invites a small group of women to gather in the parlour of her Calgary home to start a women's reading club. She has lost 6 children, a bankrupt husband, and the solace she finds in books can only go so far as Calgary's extremely limited public reading resources.

    At a time when women do not have the right to vote, members of the Women's Literary Club go door-to-door in the community gathering signatures for a petition supporting a public library. She and the Club succeed in establishing the first Library Board that, through an endowment from Andrew Carnegie, build Alberta's first public library in Calgary in 1912.

    Fast forward a hundred years, a million people.

    As a centennial legacy, the Calgary Public Library creates the Annie Davidson Lecture to acknowledge the work of change agents like her. It's been a century in the making and we are now only ten days away from a very special evening with Alice Sebold, bestselling author of The Lovely Bones, Lucky, and The Almost Moon, who will grace the stage in the John Dutton theatre for a celebration of the ways in which reading, writing and libraries act as agents of change in our society.

    This event is generously funded by the Province of Alberta’s Community Spirit Grant. Admission is FREE.

    Tuesday, March 26, Central Library.

    Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Event starts at 7:00 p.m.

    Public reception and book signing to follow.

    Register here.

    Lucky The Almost Moon The Lovely Bones



    IFWA's 2013 Short Story Contest

    by Phil - 2 Comment(s)

    An exciting reminder from Calgary's most far out writing group...

    The Imaginative Fiction Writers Association invites you to submit your original written works of speculative fiction to our 2013 short story contest 'In Places Between'. You have a chance to win a $125 first prize and get published in the annual In Places Between anthology! Final judging will be done and the winners announced at the When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers in Calgary, Alberta on August 11, 2013.

    Entry deadline is April 4th 2013 and the theme is 'In Places Between'. Visit for complete details and contest rules.

    There is also a perfect opportunity to get to know what IFWA is all about coming up on Thursday March 14, as they take over Shelf Life Books for a reading of speculative fiction themed 'Beware the Ides of March'. The reading starts at 7pm (doors at 6:30pm). There will be wine and cheese to follow. Shelf Life Books is located at 100 - 1302 4th Street SW.

    For a complete list of upcoming events at Shelf Life Books click here.

    For previous winners of the short story contest, come visit us on the 4th floor of Central where our CHFH local history room holds the 2008 and 2009 In Place Between chapbook anthologies.

    Writing in Public

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    At our annual Writers' Weekend hosted in early February there was a very interesting discussion raised during an Ask the Writer panel session. Lori Hahnel, Naomi K. Lewis, and Deborah Willis all agreed that success did not automatically translate to a stream of easy, confident production. If anything, all three agreed that after publishing their first books they experienced strong feelings of self doubt and inadequacy. All three also agreed on carrying the same misconception that most, or at least many (and perhaps every) aspiring writer has - that publishing our first books will magically wipe away all our problems, including any difficulty we have with writing.

    Raised expectations, both external and self-imposed, are not the only new challenges an acclaimed artist must face.

    When nobody's watching, well, nobody's watching.

    So how does it feel when everybody's watching?


    Tuesday, March 12

    7:30pm - Free Public Reading and Talk in the Taylor Family Digital Library's Gallery Hall.

    Marina Endicott, 2012-13 Writer-in-Residence at the University of Alberta, comes to Calgary courtesy of the exchange program between the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program and the Department of English at the U of A. Each year, these institutions host the other school’s writer-in-residence for free public events.

    While walking through the University of Alberta’s Humanities Centre, you may come across Marina Endicott’s office. Unlike other writers-in-residence, Marina doesn’t mind the fishbowl effect of the huge window, and writing on display. On Tuesday, March 12, 2013, Marina will switch campuses to read from her novel-in-progress Hughtopia and speak on how public writing – book club visitations, writers’ festivals, and even being a writer-in-residence – feeds into or disrupts the writing process. The 7:30 p.m. reading and talk in the Taylor Family Digital Library’s Gallery Hall will be free and open to the general public. A book signing and reception will follow.


    For complete event details, click here.

    For Marina Endicott's website, click here.

    Not familiar with Marina Endicott's work? Check out these titles on the shelves of your local library:

    Open Arms Good to a Fault The Little Shadows

    Zombies Hungry for Poetry, Not Brains

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Get your zombie on this weekend in Inglewood!

    It's a masquerade ball with Calgary Poet Laureate Kris Demeanor and the RE:act Collective. Other than promising a supremely great time at Inglewood's THE AREA, featuring FIRE PITS! BEER! WOOD OVEN PIZZA! LIVE ART! And prizes for best mask. And Best Mardi Gras themed zombie-esque costume...

    Money raised will go towards RE:act's Calgary Anthology Project and youth literacy initiatives.

    Click here for ticket information.

    Speaking of the Calgary Anthology Project, RE:act is working with Frontenac House and House of Blue Skies to publish "a gorgeous coffee table anthology of poetry and visual art about the City of Calgary, created by Calgarian writers and artists". If you are a Calgary writer or artist, click here for the CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS. Here's what they're looking for:

    We are looking for works about, or inspired by, the City of Calgary. We hope to articulate the experience of the city through creative language and art. What stories is our city ready to tell us through our poets and artists? What sings in our green spaces? What thrives in the fast lane? What struggles in the margins? What chatters in the Plus 15s? What two-steps in the alleys? What surprises us, wounds us, heals us, makes us run, or woos us to stay?

    The print anthology will be launched in April 2014.

    House of Blue Skies is responsible these two beautiful anthologies, available at your local library:

    Writing the Land: Alberta through its poets Home and Away: Alberta's finest poets muse on the meaning of home


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