Making It: 40th Anniversary of Grain Magazine

I was honoured to have some poems in the 40th anniversary issue of Grain Magazine. I have a soft spot in my heart for Grain, not simply because they’re my home town’s literary mag, but because they were the first legit journal to publish me. My poem This is the Nightmare (which coincidently became the title of my first poetry collection), was published in the issue Party Girls in winter 2004. Grain has been good to me over the years and I am thrilled that they’ve made it to 40 years. Happy Anniversary Grain!

Blame the Baby

So I’ve disappeared for the last ten months, mostly because I had a baby, but also because not a whole lot has been going on with me writing-wise (due to the aforementioned baby).

Quintana Roo Elizabeth, Born Jan 29, 2013 (Photo Credit: Megan Taylor)

However, things are starting to cook up again and while I’ve been living in a bit of a fog for the better part of the year, I have managed to get some writing done, and even a few publications, which I’ll post up here soon. In the meantime, I hope to be a bit more vigilant at updating this blog.

And now, a series of Phoem Workshop photos with the great Lex Leslie:





Talking Sculptures, Sexy Sea Creatures, and Dinner with Your Ex: A Review of Plenitude’s Third Issue

A nice review of Plentitude’s third issue, of which I just happen to be in.

Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian

plenitude third issueThe third issue of Plenitude certainly starts off on a high note: Vancouver writer and performance artist Amber Dawn’s short story “The Nevelson” is a brilliant, fantastical, cheeky, and funny piece of fiction.  Queer and feminist in the oddest and most wonderful ways, “The Nevelson” follows a seven-year-old girl who is forced to spend her time wandering around an art gallery where her artist mother works as a volunteer,

because that is one of the few ways in which poor, untrained female artists come to be affiliated with galleries. Even I know this, and I am seven years old. Mother also has hopes of meeting men, who know what kind of wine to order at dinner, men that tune into jazz radio as they lead her to the bedroom. She claims I’m a drag on her mojo.

AmberDawn_2012This girl is surprised to find out one day that an art…

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Queers Fail Better

They sure do. As part of the queer issue of Poetry is Dead, I was interviewed (along with the other poets in the issue) about failure, which was super fun, except that I may have given myself a bit of a complex. No big deal.

Here’s how Alex Leslie opens up the interview:

In her book ‘The Queer Art of Failure’ Judith Halberstam offers alternative ways of knowing and becoming. Instead of valuing the conventional paths of belonging, achievement and completion, she thinks about and champions the ways of “failure”: losing your way, giving in, being excluded, forgetting, awkwardness, coming apart. Not just rejecting the “normal,” Halberstam shows alternatives to success as paths that have always been there, moving away from mastery and coherence. In this series of Q&A’s with contributors to our upcoming Queer issue, we play with these ideas. When we aren’t trying to finish first (or finish anything) where do we end up?

Check out the interview here: here.

The Next Big Thing

I was recently tagged by both Alex Leslie and Darryl Joel Berger in an interview chain called The Next Big Thing. Basically, I answer ten questions about a new writing project I am working on. Then I tag five other writers. I’m tagging people who may or may not participate, but I’ll leave it up to them. I won’t force them. I won’t guilt them into it. I’m too stuffed from the holidays to do much personal manipulation.

The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?
Buoyancy Control.

Where did the idea for the book come from?
My brain.

What genre does your book fall under?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I’d want Lauren Ambrose to play me. Mostly because she has orange hair and is pretty. As for the collection of sea creatures, I’d probably cast all the actors from True Blood.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Sea creatures can be sexy too.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will hopefully get picked up by a press at some point, though I did get a very special rejection letter recently from a press that suggested I self-publish. The letter was printed on plain white paper with no official letterhead by someone whose name I didn’t recognize and whom I’m pretty certain didn’t actually read my work.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The very first draft was finished three years ago, but it’s gone through so many revisions and changes since then that it doesn’t contain most of the original poems it started out with. So, in reality, the draft I have now is my first draft of the book that Buoyancy Control was meant to be and that was about fourteen drafts later. So, about five years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Nothing I’ve read so far.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The scuba diving I did in the Pacific and Caribbean oceans.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The sexual innuendos in the book tend to involve tentacles.

Tagged Writers:

Brecken Hancock
Matthew J. Trafford
Linda Besner
Amy Jones
Jim Johnstone

Poetry is Dead

I was recently published in the queer issue of Poetry is Dead. It’s a pretty rad issue, edited by Alex Leslie and featuring some awesome queer writers. There have been a lot of great reviews of this issue, including one in Autostraddle. The most recent one is by blogger Casey, the Canadian ‘Lesbrarian’ as she likes to call herself, who reviews books of particular interest to queer Candian women and their allies. She was kind enough to mention my poem ‘Day Thirteen’ in her review, among the fantastic writing that’s in the issue. Check it out here.

2012 bpNIchol Chapbook Award

I’m thrilled that my chapbook Mimic (Leaf Press) won this year’s bpNichol Chapbook Award! Judges Bill Kennedy and Maggie Helwig said the following remarks:

“Gruber has written a sequence of connected poems, taking us from underwater landscapes to late night Portuguese bakeries, marked by brevity and precision, witty and alienist by turns. She deserves this year’s bpNichol Chapbook Award for making our minds race and our skins crawl.”

Also, some lovely words from Natalie Zina Walschots in The Torontonist about Mimic:

“Published as part of Leaf Press’ Gesture seriesMimic is a twisting, clever collection replete with tentacle-like lines and a weird tensile strength. The book “mimics” the undulating grace and alien appearance of an octopus in its content, and the theme is also carried over into the physical layout of the poetry, which is as strangely shaped as it is strangely beautiful.”