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Upcoming Guernica Author Diane Bracuk Discusses How to Write Creative Non-fiction With PRISM Magazine

PRISM international recently had the opportunity to sit down with upcoming Guernica author Diane Bracuk to discuss her story “Doughnut Eaters”, which won PRISM’s 2015 Non-fiction Contest. PRISM international is a quarterly magazine out of Vancouver that works to publish the best in contemporary writing and translation from Canada and around the world.

PRISM asked Bracuk why she was drawn to creative non-fiction, to which she responded “I’ve always been writing in some form or another, as a way to make sense of the world. What I like about creative non-fiction is the freedom to just be myself in a personal essay. Rather than inventing characters from scratch as I do in my fiction writing, I can just let my personal narrative take its own organic course, circling around a subject, and weaving together several perspectives and timelines as I did with ‘Doughnut Eaters.’”

Bracuk also discussed her writing method, which she begins by explaining her extensive revision process, “I’ll do a couple of drafts, then set them aside to marinate for a while, seeing if any new insights or revelations surface when I go back to it. After that, I’ll workshop the piece with a few writer friends, and consider something completed in seven to eight drafts.” She also discussed how to balance research and memory while writing creative non-fiction, explaining “I’m a stickler for accuracy, so balancing out memory with historical detail was important.”

Bracuk also talked about the inspiration behind the piece and its composition. “Doughnut Eaters” deals with a memory from Bracuk’s childhood spent as a Canadian expat in Germany. The story deals with “a young…female being followed by a predator on a lonely country road”, but also responds to the historical context of post-war Germany, when “Canadians – strutting about with our shiny new cars and stylish clothes – represented the good life Germans aspired to.” Bracuk explains that she was motivated to write the story “one dark and foggy (but not stormy!) night shortly after my divorce, an intensely vulnerable time where I was on unfamiliar terrain, emotionally and physically. The dense fog triggered a long forgotten memory of my ten-year-old self getting lost. So I simply went with the rush of raw emotion, interweaving descriptions of the fog with my childhood memories of Germany.”

Bracuk concludes the interview by mentioning her upcoming collection of short stories entitled Middle-Aged Boys and Girls, which will be published by Guernica Editions in spring of 2016. She states, “as the title implies, the theme is about adults stuck in various stages of adolescence – something I can definitely relate to!”

To read the whole interview, visit the PRISM international website at:

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Mike Cohen Announces Guernica Author Max Layton’s Return to His Hometown of Montreal

Mike Cohen recently wrote an article for The Suburban that announced multi-talented Guernica author Max Layton’s return to his hometown of Montreal. Cohen states that Max will be returning for the launch of his new book of poems, published by Guernica Editions, entitled In the Garden of I Am. The launch will be part of Blue Metropolis, and takes place at the Petit Salon of Hotel 10. Layton will be joined by Guernica authors Bernard Émond, Marianne Ackerman, Liana Langa, Michael Springate, and translators John Gilmore and Margita Gailitis.

Cohen refers to Layton’s colorful occupational history, who “has worked as everything from tobacco picker, logger, and apprentice auto mechanic, to vice president of a bank. Along the way, he was one of the founders of Toronto’s Book City bookstore and earned a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Toronto.” Cohen also refers to Layton’s albums, such as Heartbeat of Time, his 2012 release The Max, and his latest album, It’s a Mystery to Me. Cohen reports that Leonard Cohen calls It’s a Mystery to Me “a terrific record! Can’t praise it highly enough!” Cohen concludes by stating that he met Layton “when we named a new street in Côte St. Luc after his late dad and since then we have kept in touch.”

Max Layton was born in Montreal in 1946, and now lives in Cheltenham, Ontario. When Max went legally blind a decade ago, he began the series of linked poems that would become When The Rapture Comes. His eyesight was eventually restored by modern medicine, and Max bounced back with the release of two more albums of songs and another book of poems, In The Garden of I Am.

To read Cohen’s article, click the link below:

Mike Cohen, “Irving Layton’s eldest son set for poetic visit to Montreal”

To read more about In The Garden of I Am, visit the Guernica website at:

To read more about Max Layton, visit the Guernica website at:

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R. Andrew Paskauskas Calls B.W. Powe’s Where Seas and Fables Meet “a path towards the blessing of peace”

Andrew Paskauskas recently reviewed the Guernica publication Where Seas and Fables Meet: Parables, Aphorisms, Fragments, Thought by B.W. Powe. Paskauskas states that B.W. Powe’s book “exudes profound, at times humorous, thought provoking insights into the human soul”. He begins by explaining what kind of writer Powe comes across as, “on the back page of Where Seas and Fables Meet:…, we read that B.W. Powe is first and foremost a philosopher; followed by poet, novelist, and essayist. The ordering is fitting because here, in his latest contribution to world literature, Powe forges in the smithy of his soul a remarkable assembly of shorts – Parables, Aphorisms, Fragments, Thought – that differs significantly from most other philosophers of the not too distant past. Indeed, his writing is highly accessible (it is neither abstruse, nor is it laced with terroristic obscurantism).”

Paskauskas explains that Where Seas and Fables Meet deals with the conflict between two primary themes: “the principal universal of interest for Powe is Light. Concomitant with his consuming passion with Light, and all of its manifestations, is the Structure (at one time the System, and its equivalents) which encompasses all forms of mind and soul crushing (political, technological, emotional, spiritual, economic, and so on).” In his collection, Powe draws attention to “possible psychological strategies for liberation, or attempts to escape through self-expression”, drawing inspiration from “Blake, Nietzsche, Whitman, Kafka, Kubrick, Yuri in Zhivago.”

Lastly, Paskauskas identifies a point in Where Seas and Fables Meet that the Structure breaks down, “what the theologians call the beatific vision (universal-absolute Light).” Referring to Powe’s other writings, such as Outage; A Tremendous Canada of Light; Light Onwords, Light Onwards; Mystic Trudeau; The Unsaid Passing; These Shadows Remain; Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye: Apocalypse and Alchemy, Paskauskas explains that Powe follows “his inner voices and not the orders of others, he creates a path towards the blessing of peace; to breakthrough the Structure, and embrace the Divine.”

To read the whole review, click the link below:

Paskauskas Review

To read more about Where Seas and Fables Meet: Parables, Aphorisms, Fragments, Thought, visit the Guernica website at:

To read more about B.W. Powe, visit the Guernica website at:

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Majlinda Bashllari Discusses Elana Wolff’s Startled Night

Startled NightMajlinda Bashllari dicussed Elana Wolff’s collection of poems Startled Night as part of Brick Books’ anniversary celebration of Canadian Poetry. Majlinda Bashllari is a poet herself, having written Një udhë për në shtëpi (A road to home) which was published in Tirana, Albania and Love is a very long word, which is forthcoming from Guernica Editions. The Brick Books anniversary celebration of Canadian Poetry will feature a new article about a Canadian poem or poet every week.

Bashllari’s contribution focuses on Elana Wolff’s “book of strong images and sudden wit, with lines that keep working on you long after you’ve read them, but it is first of all a book that evokes change as the cause and aftermath of every event in a person’s life.” Bashllari draws on various poems from Wolff’s collection, such as “Hokey Pokey Poem” which “surfaces as an innocent life lecture for beginners, who perhaps intuitively know much better than adults how to deal with important issues”, as well as the poem “Art Sometimes Makes Me Vague”, which raises “the most interesting metaphor in the book: ‘startled night’ as a symbol of one of the most intangible possessions a person can own, or rather, pretend to own. Human nature is weird and wonderful: it’s looking for answers, but not for all of them.” Bashllari concludes her commentary by referring to poet Wisława Szymborska’s observation that “There are no questions more urgent than the naïve ones”, and that “Elana Wolff’s poems in Startled Night approach the big and difficult questions with the naïve openness of the beginner – the constant beginner, forever struggling with change at every stage. Yet these poems also imply a natural order to history and human life – it had to be like this: from ugliness to beauty, from blue to orange, from weakness to wisdom.”

Startled Night is one of four collections of poetry that Elana Wolff has published with Guernica Editions, among them is You Speak to Me in Trees, which was awarded the F.G. Bressani Prize for Poetry. She is also the author of Implicate Me, a collection of essays on contemporary poems; co-author of Slow Dancing: Creativity and Illness (Duologue and Rengas); and co-editor with Julie Roorda of Poet to Poet: Poems written to poets and the stories that inspired them. A bilingual edition of her selected poems, Helleborus & Alchémille was awarded the 2014 John Glassco Prize for Translation. Elana has taught English for Academic Purposes at York University in Toronto and at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She currently divides her professional time between writing, editing, and designing and facilitating therapeutic community art courses.

To read Bashllari’s article, visit the Brick Books website at:

To read more about Startled Night, visit the Guernica website at:

To read more about Elana Wolff, visit the Guernica website at:

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Shaw TV Okanagan Features Calvin White: On His Work, His Book and His Purpose 

letters from the land of fearShaw TV Okanagan recently featured the story of mental health specialist and author Calvin White, who spent 11 months in Central Asia with Doctors without Borders helping multi-drug resistant tuberculosis patients.

White has written about his experiences in Letters from the Land of Fear, published by Guernica Editions in 2015.

He explains the severity of the disease and the difficult treatments that the patients must undergo: “twenty pills and an injection for two years”.

“These drugs unfortunately sound great, they can help [them] to live but natural fact is that they give you terrible side effects and ultimately they may not work. We tend not to tell the patients that, that they may not work, because otherwise they might not go on the treatment.”

Furthermore, White explains that despite the severity of the epidemic which is taking lives by the storm in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, many people in the West aren’t aware of it.

“There are lots of books written about the more horrific tragedies like in Rwanda, Sierra Leone and ebola even but the quiet killer of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in a place on the other side of the planet— that’s just literally not on the radar. So those people kind of die in anonymity.”

Letters from the Land of Fear is a remarkable journey of intimacy and hope, one that reconfigures our understanding of sadness and, ultimately, reaffirms the common spirit of humanity.

“The experience for that year was so meaningful to me and the people I met and the people I worked with, the people who lived and died with me, deserved a book”

A former high school teacher and counsellor in small town British Columbia, Calvin White translated his experience developing educational and therapeutic approaches for troubled teenagers into leading a team of local counsellors in Uzbekistan, a remote corner of central Asia. As a mental health specialist for Médecins Sans Frontières, he spent a year creating therapeutic practises aimed at saving the lives of hundreds of patients suffering from multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. Calvin makes his home in Salmon Arm, BC.


To watch the video featuring Calvin White, visit Youtube:

Letters from the Land of Fear is available on the Guernica Editions website:

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Jirair Tutunjian Reviews Garebian’s Accidental Genius: The Pantheon of Modern American Poets

Accidental GeniusJirair Tutunjian recently reviewed Guernica author Keith Garebian’s newest book, Accidental Genius: The Pantheon of Modern American Poets. Writing for, a “non-partisan website devoted to community activities, human rights and democracy”, Tutunjian calls Accidental Genius “a hilarious anthology of short ‘poem’ quotes by such eminent bloviators as Sean Hannity, firebrand Michelle Bachmann, ponderous Rick Santorum, ‘America-right or wrong’ Newt Gingrich, rabble-rousing Sarah Palin, venomous Ann Coulter, self-worshipping Donald Trump”, and others. Tutunjian remarks that Garebian has assembled “120 pages…of gems in ‘Accidental Genius: The Pantheon of Modern American Poets”. Tutunjian concludes by stating “whether the reader is Right or Left Wing, Centrist or Independent, ‘Accidental Genius’ is a gift that keeps giving sharp-edged laughter”.

Accidental Genius: The Pantheon of Modern American Poets is Garebian’s collection of many well-known utterances by right-wing extremists in North America, presented as if they were modern poems deserving of serious academic consideration. Garebian is a widely published, award-winning freelance literary, theatre, and dance critic, biographer, and poet. He has won many awards for his writing, including the Scarborough Arts Council Poetry Award, the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Award, the Mississauga Arts Award (2000, 2008, and 2013), a Dan Sullivan Memorial Poetry Award, the Lakeshore Arts/Scarborough Arts Council Award for Poetry, and an Ontario Poetry Society Award for Haiku.

To read the whole review, visit at:

To read more about Accidental Genius: The Pantheon of Modern American Poets, visit the Guernica website at:

To read more about Keith Garebian, visit the Guernica website at:

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Stan Rogal Reading at the Art Bar Poetry Series on April 28th

After WordsOn Tuesday, April 28th, Stan Rogal will be reading at The Art Bar Poetry Series along with Patrick Friessen and A.F. Moritz. The event will take place at the Black Swan (154 Danforth Ave) at 8 PM.

The Art Bar Poetry Series, which is recognized as the longest running poetry-only reading series in Canada, holds weekly readings and features both emerging and established poets. Attendance is free, though voluntary donations are appreciated.

Stan Rogal will be reading from After Words, his most recent collection of poetry, published by Guernica Editions in 2014.

The objective of After Words is to offer a tip of the hat to people whose lives and/or works have influenced the author. Each piece is forwarded by a short background story as well as an epigram which provides some descriptive entry and flavour. The key was to construct these pieces in the author’s own style and voice and not fall into simple mimicry. Many names have been encrypted into the pieces as fractured homonyms, a sort of pun for the astute reader.

Steve Venright explains that “what impresses most [about the collection] is the vivid carnality of Rogal’s writing. Visceral, muscular, fleshly, and very much alive, this may be the strongest offering yet from the regal rogue of CanLit, the only poet who would unapologetically pay homage to Sylvia Plath and Humphrey Bogart in the same volume, and Albert Camus and Merle Haggard in the same poem.”

Stan Rogal was born in Vancouver and has resided in Toronto for 25 years. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies in Canada, the US and Europe, some in translation. He has published 19 books, including four novels, four story and 11 poetry collections. He is also a produced playwright and the artistic director of Bulletproof Theatre.

For more information about the Art Bar Poetry Series, visit the Facebook Event Page:

After Words is available on the Guernica Editions website:

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Clara Blackwood Selected as “Emerging, Innovative Voice” in All Lit Up’s Poetry Primer #7

clara blackwoodIn the 7th feature of All Lit Up’s Poetry Month Poetry Primer, poet and novelist George Fetherling selected Clara Blackwood as one of 16 innovative poetic voices in Canadian literature today.

All Lit Up’s Poetry Primer is an all month event which celebrates Poetry Month, and during which 16 established Canadian poets select an “emerging, innovative voice they feel will make a mark on Canadian poetry.” Throughout the month, All Lit Up is featuring a poem from each selected poet, along with commentary from both established and selected poets.

George Fetherling explains what intrigues him in Blackwood’s work, stressing the mystical, spiritually-focused nature of her poetry.

“Clara is herself not a cultist but like Gwendolyn MacEwen, the late Canadian poet to whom she frequently refers, her work deals with mysticism, symbology, and edge spirituality as they apply to contemporary urban feminism. Urban is one of the key words.”

He explains how the dichotomy between spiritual and urban is presented in her first full-length collection, Subway Medusa (Guernica Editions 2007), and how she carries these themes into her latest collection, Forecast (Guernica Editions 2014).

“[The title Subway Medusa is] perfect because it encapsulates the search for spiritual understanding in a world of bleary-eyed po-mo bohemians who fill the nocturnal streets, bars and all-night coffee spots, trying to find a tradition, or to make one of their own, in a monolithic money-mad city that does not acknowledge their intimacies and confusions. What the reader learns from Subway Medusa is expanded on, ripened and deepened in her collection Forecast”

He sums up his reason for selecting Clara Blackwood like this:

“There are many reasons to value both these books highly. I do so because Clara Blackwood seems to me to be a type of downtown soothsayer and haruspex—a late-night Yonge Street priestess.”

In Blackwood’s accompanying commentary, the poet explains her reasons for writing, stressing the unconscious state from which her inspiration is drawn. She turns to the Persephone archetype in order to define her view of writing and of the literary world.

“[Persephone] was a naive maiden like myself until Hades (the dark muse) chose her against her will and took her to the underworld. The underworld here being the unconscious where poetic inspiration is drawn. Another aspect of the underworld is the literary community itself, with all its exercises in shadow play. After this apparent lack of choice, the Persephone poet must continue to journey through the underworld – the source [of] her inspiration for writing – and bring back the material to the ordinary waking world.”

Blackwood explains that in her experience, it is not a matter of the poet choosing to write but of “being “chosen” to write poetry, and for the ongoing creative journey”.

She names Sylvia Plath and Gwendolyn McEwen as her poetic influences.

“[Plath’s] underworld-laden imagery has always spoken powerfully to me, and I aspire to create and evoke the same kind of richness and startling metaphor – but certainly not to follow the sad example of her life, which I take as cautionary.”

“Another poet who influenced me early on and I always go back to is Gwendolyn MacEwen. Her visionary imagination continues to enthral me, and the mythic and archetypal lives and breathes in her work in a highly intimate way.”

Clara Blackwood is a poet, visual artist and tarot reader. Her first poetry collection, Subway Medusa (2007), was the inaugural book in Guernica Editions’ First Poets Series, which features first books by poets thirty-five and under. Her poetry has appeared in Canadian and International journals. She lives in Toronto.


subway medusa



To read Poetry Primer # 7, visit the All Lit Up website:

Clara Blackwood’s collections are available on the Guernica Editions website:

Subway Medusa


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Travels, Tricks & Storytelling: The Power of the Oral Tradition in Lorne Elliott’s The Goat in the Tree

goat in the tree elliottApril is a month of mischief and trickery. It forecasts this from the start— the first day of the month is, after all, April Fools’ Day. But as April 1st saunters in, throws its pranks and tricks like confetti, we expect it to make its exit and make way for a more predictable month.

This isn’t always the case— the whole month of April often proves to have a mercurial nature and a knack for playing tricks on us. Somehow, despite the blooming spring, we feel colder than in February. Despite the promising sunshine, it is wetter and rainier than in November. Overall, the one thing we can expect is to be constantly surprised by the unexpected tricks April has up its sleeve.

And what better time to delve into a book whose hero is so spunky he’ll make you fall in love with hoaxes and pranks, than in April, the month that comes back every year to horse around and make merry with its trickery?


Lorne Elliott’s The Goat in the Tree follows the adventures of a protagonist who weaves his good fortune and disentangles his troubles with his fabulous stories— all made up, though all carrying a glimmer of truth despite factual inaccuracies.

His gift of storytelling turns him into a master trickster, as he travels through Morocco and France in pursuit of an audience for his stories and his next meal. He proves to be the master of changing identities and he moves between them seamlessly. He is Max, Charles, Eric. He is a Moroccan tour guide, a translator, a professor, a performer. In the midst of all of his tricks, he is a man who falls in love. But not without getting into trouble and without learning that there is a thin line between a story that is enriching and one that is destructive.

Through the protagonist’s constant fabrications, which excite and inspire his audiences, and often bring about concrete benefits for him and for others, the novel recalls the importance of the storytelling tradition, and shows the power of words, of imagination and of sharing them with an audience. But it does not follow this blindly. Elliott suggests that the storyteller holds a power which he can’t take lightly, and which, when abused, can have detrimental effects.

Through The Goat in the Tree, Elliott shows us that there are two sides to every coin, and that even the most inspiring talents come with the responsibility of acting with honour and sincerity.

This novel is stark. It is inspiring. Above all, it is highly entertaining.

Take a sneak peek into the brilliant world of The Goat in the Tree


The Goat in the Tree is available on the Guernica Editions website:

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 April 18: Liana Langa & Margita Gailitis Promoting Deadly Nightshade in Toronto 

deadly nightshadeThis upcoming Saturday, April 18th, Liana Langa will be in Toronto promoting her new poetry collection Deadly Nightshade along with translator Margita Gailitis. The event will take place at the Black Cat Espresso Bar (1104 College Street) at 7 PM. The evening will start with readings by Liana and Margita and will be followed by any responses from the audience— spoken, sung or otherwise.

Deadly Nighshade will be published by Guernica Editions in Fall 2015.

The poems in the collection raise the classic existential issues of the intensity and diversity of life, the daily presence of death, unavoidable loneliness, the materialism of the era, man’s moral obligations and the defence of humanism. Liana Langa displays above all a personal stoicism and the poetical ‘I’ stance accepting of the humanism criteria of individual perseverance, of survival and obstinacy, precisely that which shapes the cultural values of an individual set against an oft-dehumanized and mediocre environment and the limitations and single mindedness of a consumption oriented society. Her acceptance of the utmost importance of moral values and the defence thereof through the lyrical ‘I’ is one of the most characteristic sources of Langa’s poetic inspiration.

Israeli Poet Amir Or describes Langa as a poet ” whose every movement into language challenges us out of our sentimental approaches to living.” Petr Borkovec puts Langa’s work on par with Anna Akhmatova and Elizabeth Bishop: “I used to have two favorite women poets: Anna Akhmatova and Elizabeth Bishop. Now I have three.” 

Latvian author Liana Langa is the author of four books of poetry and one of prose: Deadly Nightshade (2010), Diary of Aerials (2006), Blow Your Trumpet, Scorpion! (2001), Now the Sky, Now the Hourhand (1997) and the collection of travel essays I Did Not Have To Hurry (2008). Langa is the recipient of the Latvian Poetry Day Award (1998 and 2006) and the Annual Award in Literature (2001 and 2011).
Born in Riga, Latvia, poet and translator Margita Gailitis immigrated to Canada as a child. Gailitis returned to Riga in 1998 to work at the Translation and Terminology Center as part of a Canadian International Development Agency initiative. Today Gailitis focuses her energy on literary translation and poetry, having translated some of Latvia’s finest poetry, prose and dramaturgy. Gailitis’ own poetry has been widely published and has won her awards from both the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.
For more information about the event, visit the event’s Facebook Page:
Deadly Nightshade is available on the Guernica Editions website:

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