BOOKS IN PRINT

Writers Talking by John Metcalf and Claire Wilkshire  

Eight interviews, eight stories, eight commentaries. Eight of Canada’s finest writers. Writers Talking gives readers a chance to listen in: Terry Griggs on where stories come from, Michael Winter on writing Newfoundland, K. D. Miller on being an actor who writes. The volume also features stories by and conversations with Mary Borsky, Steven Heighton, Elise Levine, Annabel Lyon, and Lisa Moore.

Table of contents

Foreword
Michael Winter -- The Force of Mystery
Michael Winter -- Archibald the Arctic
Lisa Moore -- Kernels
Lisa Moore -- Craving
Steven Heighton -- Foreigners
Steven Heighton -- Five Paintings of the New Japan
Mary Borsky -- The Last Bullring
Mary Borsky -- The Ukrainian Shirt
K. D. Miller -- Standing Up Naked and Turning Around Very Slowly
K. D. Miller -- A Litany in Time of Plague
Terry Griggs -- Self-Portrait
Terry Griggs -- Momma Had a Baby
Elise Levine -- Range
Elise Levine -- Always the Snow
Annabel Lyon -- Interview
Annabel Lyon -- Watch Me
Bibliography

Review quote

‘What’s most interesting about the book is the ways in which almost all the writers work out what it means to be Canadian writers. Michael Winter discusses having to leave Newfoundland in order to be able to write about it; Steven Heighton relates how his travels through Canada, as well as outside of it, forged his identity as a writer; Mary Borsky speaks of wonder at her realization that Canada could be an acceptable setting for serious literature; Terry Griggs traces her development as a writer to her childhood discovery of the differences of region in Canada. In telling their histories, the authors featured in Writers Talking who also include Lisa Moore, K.D. Miller, Elise Levine, and Annabel Lyon, tell the history of recent Canadian literature itself, shedding light not only on their work and careers, but also on the people and places that have made it all possible.’

—Peter Darbyshire, amazon.ca

Review quote

Writers Talking is a great idea, and the editors have crafted the material into a thorough, balanced and honed work. It would be nice to see more publications like this.’

—Joan Sullivan, The Telegram (St John’s)

Review quote

‘The interviews provide a vivid impression of the writers’ influences, techniques, and ambitions. Each interview is followed by a previously published story by the author and his or her brief commentary on the story. A source of inspiration for creative-writing students, Writers Talking also sheds light on the contributions of editors -- specifically John Metcalf.’

—Thomas Gerry, Canadian Book Review Annual

Review quote

‘Metcalf is not eccentric but central, a brilliant prose-smith who has mentored an entire generation of fledgling authors.’

—Jeet Heer, Toro Magazine

Review quote

Writers Talking is very much a book that is alive, one that will certainly make readers want to read more (especially by these eight writers), and read more carefully; it will also make writers want to write more -- and, again, more carefully. Each of these stories dazzles with a quiet, meticulous brilliance, a brilliance that comes from a sustained, holy belief in getting the words right. As Steven Heighton says in his interview/essay: ‘‘At the turn of the millennium being a true rebel means being, by postmodern standards, unabashedly uncool -- an aesthete, devoted to the old pursuit of truth and beauty in artistic form.’’ ... To that I say, now quoting Elise Levine: ‘‘Yippee-i-o.’’ ’

—Melanie Little, Globe & Mail

Review quote

‘I’m a junky for anything that takes readers inside the world of the imagination, and this collection is particularly fine. Eight of my favorite contemporary Canadian writers -- Michael Winter, Lisa Moore, Annabel Lyon, Steven Heighton, Terry Griggs, Elise Levine, Mary Borsky, and K.D. Milleri -- talking about their work. The set up is pure genius: an interview, followed by a story, and then the writers’ commentary on the technical challenges they had to solve in the writing of the story in order to achieve the effect they were after. The interviews are wonderfully wrought -- in most of them, the questions have been removed so the pieces read as seamless narratives of a writer’s coming-of-age.’

—Kim Jernigan, The New Quarterly

Review quote

Writers Talking is a great idea, and the editors have crafted the material into a thorough, balanced and honed work. It would be nice to see more publications like this.’

—Joan Sullivan, The Telegram (St John’s)

Review quote

‘The interviews provide a vivid impression of the writers’ influences, techniques, and ambitions. Each interview is followed by a previously published story by the author and his or her brief commentary on the story. A source of inspiration for creative-writing students, Writers Talking also sheds light on the contributions of editors -- specifically John Metcalf.’

—Thomas Gerry, Canadian Book Review Annual

Author comments

‘Why do some people insist writing can’t be taught? (If the same people believe their own writing benefits from being edited then they are hypocrites who should close their mouths. And if they don’t believe their own writing benefits from being edited then they are insufferable egotists who should close their mouths. And if they don’t, themselves, write, then they don’t know what they’re talking about and should close their mouths. QED).’

—Annabel Lyon

Author comments

‘I’m convinced that to be honest in a story is to deal with a bunch of lies about the real world, but to configure them in the best way you can to contrive some kind of truth out of it.’

—Michael Winter

Author comments

‘As I confess in my third book, Holy Writ, I have a relationship with writing -- one that is akin to my relationship with God, and is at the very centre of my life. That makes it both dangerous and dear. To do it badly -- to play it safe, take it easy and not let it cost me anything -- is to betray what is best in me. But to do it well? That is to stand up naked and turn around very slowly.’

—K.D. Miller

Author comments

‘I suppose I have to begin by confessing that my childhood was a normal one, although that word hardly captures how much fun it was....’

—Terry Griggs

Author comments

‘My sharpest sense of writing is that it bears a central relationship to wordlessness -- the blank spaces, the white margins at the edges of our daily lives.’

—Elise Levine

Author comments

‘I could never really trust that it was enough to let the popcorn be a popcorn, I want it to be suffering unrequited love, or be an egomaniac.’

—Lisa Moore

Author comments

‘I knew that a character in a novel could watch a sunset in San Francisco, and I knew that a character in a book could watch a parade in New York City.... But I did not know a character in a novel could watch the ice break up in Edmonton.’

—Mary Borsky

Author comments

‘To survive on the Lord of the Flies desert isle that is boyhood -- especially at an isolated summer camp, where the life of the body is all -- the ‘‘sensitive’’ child has to make himself somehow indispensable to the tribe. I forged my belonging out of narrative.’

—Steven Heighton


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John Metcalf was born in Carlisle, England, and was educated at the University of Bristol. He emigrated to Canada in 1962. In addition to working on his own writings (novels, stories and essays), he held for many years the unsalaried post of Senior Editor of the Porcupine’ Quill. John Metcalf is the editor of Canadian Notes and Queries and book publisher Biblioasis. He resides in Ottawa with his wife, Myrna.


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Claire Wilkshire teaches English at Memorial University in St. John’s. She was a founding member of the fiction collective The Burning Rock and her stories are represented along with Lisa Moore’s, Michael Winter’s, and Ramona Dearing’s in the Burning Rock anthologies Hearts Larry Broke and Extremities.

The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.

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LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Composition & Creative Writing

LITERARY CRITICISM / General

ISBN-13: 9780889842748

Publication Date: 2003-11-15

Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.56 in

Pages: 232

Price: $19.95