10 June 2022

Sun Cows of the Petrichor

In winter 2021, I had the great privilege of being writer-in-residence for the University of Ottawa's English Department. I wish I could have lived in Ottawa for those four months — that had been my hope — but the Covid wrench insinuated itself into the process and I led my classes from my office basement, surrounded by bookshelves handmade by Nelson Ball and sitting on Barbara Caruso's chair, with a tapestry by Barbara hanging across from my "desk."

Anyway, the school gave me the opportunity to teach the fourth-year writing workshop. I was told I could teach anything I wanted. Both to be unpredictable and because I thought it was more necessary, I created a course called Blowing Up Fiction, devoted to experimental and innovative fiction. The twelve students who enrolled had not previously written experimental fiction, I discovered. But this was the only fourth-year creative writing course offered, so they took it.

The students turned out to be supremely talented writers, and though some might have been a bit reluctant at first, they met the challenge of writing in all the crazy ways I suggested, and they read works by David Markson, Daphne Marlatt, B. S. Johnson, Lydia Davis, Percival Everett, bpNichol, MAC Farrant, Renee Gladman, Raymond Federman, and lots more. They hated some of it, and some of it they loved.

Toward the end of the semester, I came up with the idea of putting together a full-length anthology of experimental fiction by these young writers. (Well, eleven young writers and one old guy like me.) I would publish it through Proper Tales Press. I brought the Russian artist and writer Jenya Stashkov aboard to do the cover graphic. I told them I'd have the book out by June 2021. It would be called Sun Cows of the Petrichor.

But Covid really slowed me down. Until this past spring. And now, at last, the book is out, with very exciting work by Emily Bertrand, Ciku Gitonga, Andrea Guzman, Vera Hadzic, Baylie Karperian, Jonathan Kipling, Jack Lahey, Vivian Li, Angelica Malpica, Lila Ndinsil, Sabrina Papandrea, and David Paré. I was worried that one or two of them would get cold feet during the yearlong delay, but they're a brave bunch!

Is it a book by student writers? Nope, it's a book by writers, most of them being published for their first time.

I'm very proud of this project.

Over and out.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home