All posts filed under: Interviews

An Interview with Jenna Butler

By Jamal Ali Jenna Butler is a poet, professor, essayist, and organic farmer. She teaches Creative Writing at Red Deer College. She is the author of a new travelogue and poetry collection, Magnetic North: Sea Voyage to Svalbard; an award-winning collection of ecological essays, A Profession of Hope: Farming on the Edge of the Grizzly Trail; and three critically acclaimed books of poetry, Seldom Seen Road, Wells, and Aphelion. Butler was born in Norwich, England. Jenna immigrated to Canada with her parents in the early 1980s. Jenna grew up within Edmonton’s vibrant literary community, but always possessed the desire to return to life on the land. Two decades later, Jenna and her husband began to build Larch Grove, their off-grid organic farm and artists’ retreat, on a quarter section near Barrhead, Alberta. In this interview, Butler talks about life on Larch Grove, her experience as writer in residence onboard a sailing vessel, “Antigua,” in the Norwegian Arctic, and poems from Magnetic North.  JA: What is life like on Larch Grove, your off-grid organic farm and …

Interview with Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Stella Leventoyannis Harvey is a Canadian author and the founder and artistic director of the Whistler Writing Society. Harvey was born in Cairo, Egypt and immigrated to Calgary, Alberta with her family as a child. She now lives in Whistler, British Columbia. Her books include Nicolai’s Dauhgters, The Brink of Freedom, and her latest book Finding Callidora. Crystal sat down with Stella to discuss Finding Callidora and what it means to write about family. Crystal Mackenzie: This story encompasses your own family history. What inspired you to do this and make it into a novel? Stella Leventoyanis Harvey: That’s a good question. I think, for me, and I say this often, is I missed my culture my entire life. The hole where home is, belonging, probably my entire life, and I have always been very interested in that, and so I started to do some research trying to find out. Listening to stories is the other part of it, my parents would tell us all these stories about life before Canada and piecing those things …

Interview with Denise Chong

by Jamal Ali A third-generation Chinese-Canadian, Denise Chong, the internationally published and award-winning writer, was born in Vancouver and raised in Prince George. She studied economics at the University of British Columbia earning her bachelor’s degree in 1975. She received an MA in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Toronto in 1978. Denise began her working life in the federal finance department and went on to become senior economic advisor in the office of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. After Trudeau’s retirement in 1984, Chong left her role as a public servant in order to pursue a career as a professional writer. Chong is the author of the following non-fiction books of literary non-fiction: The Concubine’s Children, The Girl in the Picture, Egg on Mao and Lives of the Family. Denise Chong was the 2017-2018 Canadian Writer-in-Residence for the University of Calgary’s Distinguished Writers Program. She lives in Ottawa with her family.  Jamal Ali: Can you reflect on your career as an economist with the Federal Government in Ottawa? What was it like?  Denise Chong: …

Interview with Lori Hahnel

by Jamal Ali Lori Hahnel is the author of the following books: After You’ve Gone (a novel), Nothing Sacred (a short story collection), which was shortlisted for the Alberta Literary Award for fiction and Love Minus Zero (a novel). Her work has appeared in over forty journals in North America, Australia and the United Kingdom. She holds a BA in English from the University of Calgary. Hahnel lives in Calgary where she teaches creative writing. Jamal Ali: You worked as a reference assistant at the Calgary Public Library from 1988-2006. Can you share your experiences? What was it like? In what ways did your experience influence your writing career? Lori Hahnel:  Actually, I only worked on the fourth floor reference desk at the old Central Library for approximately the last five years of my time at Calgary Public Library, partly before and partly after being at home with my kids for five years. The rest of the time I worked in circulation, first at Fish Creek Library, then Central. There are far too many experiences …

Interview with Vivian Hansen

by Joan Shillington Vivian Hansen is the author of two Chapbooks of poetry: Angel Alley – the victims of Jack the Ripper, Never Call it Bird: the Melodies of AIDS (Passwords Enterprises) and three poetry collections: Leylines of My Flesh (Touchwood 2001), A Bitter Mood of Clouds (Frontenac House 2013) and A Tincture of Sunlight (Frontenac House 2017).  Her essay ‘Hundedagene and the Foxtail Phenomena’ appears in Coming Here, Being Here: A Canadian Migration Anthology (Guernica 2016).  Vivian is a member of The Canadian League of Poets and The Writers Guild of Alberta.  She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and teaches at the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University and the Alexandra Writers’ Centre. A Tincture of Sunlight, to me, was not a book of poetry to read in one sitting. Rather, it was best to linger over each poem and allow the flavour of your poetry, the story of Old Man, complexities of war and your relationship with Old Man reveal themselves slowly.  Growing up under the …

Author Interview: Bruce Hunter

Bruce Hunter grew up in Calgary and studied film and humanities at York University. After graduation he taught at Humber College, York University and Banff School of Fine Arts. In 1986 he joined Seneca College teaching English and Liberal Studies. He is now retired. Bruce has published five books of poetry: Selected Canadian Rifles (unfinished monument press, 1981), Benchmark (Thistledown Press, 1982), The Beekeeper’s Daughter (Thistledown Press, 1986), Coming Home from Home (Thistledown Press, 2000), and Two O’Clock Creek (Oolichan Books, 2010). His works of fiction include a book of linked short stories Country Music Country (Thistledown Press, 1996) and a novel, In the Bear’s House (Oolichan Books, 2009). Joan Shillington: Bruce, I think it’s interesting how you write in both poetry and prose genres. Reading your work it seems seamless, but of course, all writing is a lot of work, time and commitment. More and more writers are crossing genres so I’d like to focus on that aspect of your work. Two O’Clock Creek is one of my favourite poems and when I read the chapter describing Trout’s trip with …

Marcello Di Cintio Interview with John Vigna, FreeFall’s Upcoming Contest Judge

Marcello Di Cintio sat down with FreeFall’s upcoming judge, John Vigna, for some quick questions: M: What elevates a piece of writing beyond ordinary? JV: A compelling, authentic narrative voice; brutal truth but restraint in calibrating it throughout the story. Humility. Wisdom. Complete mastery of the world of the story and finding the right way to tell it. The art of knowing what to leave out; the subtlety and the ability to express deep emotional moments without sentimentality, letting the details and characters speak for themselves. A less is more approach. M: Your characters are beyond ordinary for the circumstances they find themselves in and for the way they react to the violence within themselves and in their environment. How does a character come to you first? JV: Characters initially come to me from a sense of place, where they came from, where they currently inhabit space and time, and why. Reading Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy, I am interested by how they created fictional, composite worlds from a landscape that left a …

Q&A with Natalie Olsen on Why Book Design Matters

Jordan Simpson: Book design has been around for a long time. Like, a really long time. It’s been around since people first put ink/dye/blood to paper, papyrus or animal, or even human skin (yes, human skin; there’s a few books bound entirely in the stuff but that’s for another article). And its guiding principle is of the noblest of causes to the writer: making an author’s work organized, legible and attractive to read. In its own way, design gives the words on the page extra power for the reader. It can engage the reader on another level by intriguing them, seducing them, or entertaining them through simple things like typeface, colour, and layout. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a sexy-looking book? So as an introduction to the occasionally mentioned craft, FreeFall sat down with Natalie Olsen, cover and book designer extraordinaire based in Inglewood and had a nice chat about her art. Olsen, who’s worked with a variety of clients ranging from the Book Publishers Association of Alberta to University of Toronto Press, has designed …

FreeFall Interview with Joan Shillington

Despite promoting her new poetry book, living life, and being a wonderful poetry editor for FreeFall Magazine, Joan Shillington still found time to sit down for an interview with us about Folding the Wilderness Within. FreeFall: You started taking writing seriously later in life. What was the catalyst? And when and why did you first call yourself a “writer?” Joan Shillington: My daughter Laura was the catalyst. She bought a scrapbook for the poems I had written over the years; simple, rhyming poems for family occasions and games. Once they were gathered in one place, I decided they could be better and began to search for a poetry course. At the Alexandra Writer’s Centre I found a Saturday, all-day Beginner Poetry Workshop. It was May 1999, Bob Stallworthy was the facilitator. By the end of the day, I had fallen in love with poetry and registered for a six-week fall course. In May 2010, eleven years after the Beginner Poetry Workshop, I began to think of myself as a writer. Sequestered with nine poets for …

Interview with John Wall Barger

Micheline Maylor An Interview with John Wall Barger On October 25, 2012 MM: Your poems have a distinct voice that comes off as quirky. What would you tell starting writers about developing a voice? JWB: I think of the written voice as an extension of the physical voice. Our speaking tics should find approximations on the page, just as our lump in the throat must find an image. I spent many years trying to write small quiet poems like the ones I admire, but my voice would not do that. My voice is kind of excitable and jumpy and loud. Voice is where our limitations become our advantages. Do you stammer when you are nervous? A poem that stammers can command a room. But a poet who does not let his poem stammer is a dictator whose poem will be willing to die in protest against him. MM: How do poems come to you, or do you have to work for them? What is your creative process like in terms of starting a poem? JWB: …