13 May 2009

Group fundraising for Uganda trip

PRINCE GEORGE - The Northern Uganda Development Foundation is hosting a charity yard sale on May 16 at 103-7000 Southridge from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The NUDF Well Water Health Care Team for Northern Uganda is a team of 10 professionals from University of Northern British Columbia who are travelling to Northern Uganda in July of this year. The three week trip will focus on digging wells (potable water being a major deterrent in the spread of disease) and providing hospital/health care to impoverished communities in Northern Uganda.

There is also a pub-night at Alfredo’s Pub on 15th. Tickets are $15 each and include a full roast beef dinner. Proceeds ($7.50 of each ticket price) will go toward the July trip. Tickets can be purchased by contacting 250-960-6598.

12 May 2009

Local writer nominated for award

PRINCE GEORGE - The Writers’ Union of Canada announced that writer Betsy Trumpener has been nominated for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for The Butcher of Penetang (Caitlin Press).
The Award recognizes the best first English-language collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2008.
The fiction book introduces a number of stories, including a child missing in a dangerous part of town, a draft dodger, a robber armed with a hairbrush and a refugee who rescues poetry from his prison cell.
Judges Merilyn Simonds, J.J. Steinfeld, and Rudy Wiebe also shortlisted Ian Colford, Evidence (The Porcupine’s Quill); Pasha Malla, The Withdrawal Method (House of Anansi Press Inc.); Rebecca Rosenblum, Once (Biblioasis) and Ahmad Saidullah, Happiness and other Disorders (Key Porter Books Limited).
The Award consists of cash prizes for the three best first collections, with a first prize of $10,000 and two additional prizes of $500. The winners will be announced in Calgary, Alta., on May 23, 2009.

05 May 2009

becoming birch

Justin Foster talks about his chapbook that won this year's Barry McKinnon award

PRINCE GEORGE - A long poem that connects the life of a tree to the life of a city woman was voted the top chapbook produced in northern B.C. this year.

Justin Foster’s from the melt was chosen by judges as winner of the fourth annual Barry McKinnon Chapbook Award at April’s chapbook fair in Prince George. The long poem, split into two parts, features the central character of ‘birch,’ a clearcut tree in a northern boreal forest and also a woman.

“It’s an investigation of the dichotomy between cityscape and landscape, personified through the experiences of birch,” Foster said. “A tree becomes a woman, becomes a writer, and writes about her exposure to city life and poetics. The second section is written by birch.”

Foster (at left) said the book started to take shape during a trip across Canada, and was mostly written during a brief stay in Vancouver. Vancouver did not work its way into the poem, but it gave him the time and distance to reflect on living in northern B.C. and working in the bush.

“The city which birch -- as a woman -- becomes a part of is very much in the likeness of Prince George. Her writing is concerned with the northern poetic.”

The construction of the chapbook also reflects both city and nature. The cover stock is forest green, and the cream coloured pages are textured and have a rustic feel. The cover page has a window cut into it, and the image in the window is a birch stand. Each book has an original sketch on its inside cover, handdrawn by Heather Glasgow.

“The cover suggests both city and nature,” said Foster, who graduated from UNBC with a focus on creative writing.

“I was leaning towards an earthy look for the book, which I thought was relevant to the content. The connection between trees and the products they become, such as paper, is a reoccurring theme through out the poem.”

Foster, who lives in northern B.C. and works seasonally in the forest industry, said he was honoured with the recognition, which came with a $250 award. Even moreso, he added, because making a chapbook can be a daunting task. While it is an artform primarily to showcase writing, equally important is the form, which is brought out by the paper, binding and format. It’s complete creative control for the writer, but it can also make the process difficult.

“When I look back on my previous c-books, they all seem like crap, really. This is a sentiment held by many artists, I think. It’s my fourth c-book and it is the only one I feel truly excited about . . . I still have a lot to learn about the craft, though. In some ways I feel like my efforts have come to fruition, but in other ways I feel like I have a long way to go.”

The first runner-up of the award was Matt Partyka, and the second runner-up was Aisha Leone. The judging panel was composed of writers, as well as former winners of the award. For information on obtaining copies of the books, contact pg pod.


Excerpt: from the melt

a northern cutblock
nestled into folds of old growth tree-line
taught and rearing, this place
separated from the hustle-bustle
of northern city-life
by mountains and water ways,
by policy and intent, intenders

here the tailings of last winter shift and linger
finding solace in the shade of seasons

the ground is soft, forgiving from the melt

having never been subject
to a full, blustering squall
these trees are ill-equipped
to face the coming storms

newly exposed timber
pushes back against the wind,
pulling at the gnarled roots below

there is a shift in soil, a heaving
of the boreal landscape

04 May 2009

Canvassing Students

PRINCE GEORGE - Students from the Emily Carr-UNBC Bachelor of Fine Arts program hosted a launch for their paintings at Art Space tonight. For those who missed the reception, the paintings, which range from city and nature landscapes to portraits, will be on display until May 31. Pictured is Jordan Rivera (top) and his painting "Self Portrait," and Andrea Fredeen with "Temple Site." Check it out upstairs at 1685 3rd Avenue. The program, between UNBC and the Emily Carr University of Art & Design, connects creative writing and studio practice.